Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1036/28922

From The Socialist newspaper, 3 April 2019

End Tory cold cruelty: life under austerity in Merthyr

Scrap Universal Credit now

Socialist Party members campaigning against Universal Credit in Wales, photo Socialist Party Wales

Socialist Party members campaigning against Universal Credit in Wales, photo Socialist Party Wales   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Reid

It's a cloudy March morning in Merthyr and there is a steady flow of people going about their business.

This town has received a bad press as the "benefit capital of Britain". The Mirror newspaper pointed out the average male life expectancy on one of the estates is lower than Haiti's. But it's a friendly town.

We set up our stall against Universal Credit. People start approaching as soon as our posters go up.

Lisa signs the petition straight away. She has a young child and, because her partner is working, doesn't get out-of-work benefits. She's worried that when Universal Credit hits they will lose tax credits. Her dad has been evicted because of Universal Credit.

"He's sofa surfing now" she says "59 and nowhere to live". He lost his flat because the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) held up his benefits for so long that the private landlord lost patience and turfed him out.

Sonya comes up to the stall questioning us. "Scrap Universal Credit?" she asks, "what will people live on?" We explain we want it replaced with benefits people can actually live on. "Right!" she says, and signs our petition.

It turns out Sonya has fallen foul of the strict rules on tax credits. She works for McDonald's and ensured she was contracted for 16 hours a week so she qualified for tax credits to top up her pay.

But then she got a letter from the DWP who had found out that she had a 15-minute unpaid break every day. So, technically, she did not work 16 hours but 13 and a half hours a week, and had therefore never qualified for tax credits. They demanded she return over £3,000 in overpayments. "I couldn't pay that back!" she said, so they settled for £10 a week for six years!

Then Gwyn comes up to sign: "they're cruel bastards" he says as he leans his stick on the stall. Gwyn has worked in Merthyr Vale colliery and then bricklaying after the pits closed. His knees are shot. The Welsh NHS sent him for a new knee to the Bupa hospital but it all went wrong and he has to have another one to replace it. Now the other knee has gone and that will have to be replaced as well.

But he says private company Capita found him fit to work - even though he can hardly walk. The DWP cut off his benefits and then an administrative error delayed his appeal so he had to resubmit it. He and his wife have not had a penny since October. They have held off eviction by the housing association so far, but can only live with their family helping out.

Gwyn is a tough but gentle man: "I'm not religious, but if there is a hell that's where Iain Duncan Smith is going", he says with unsmiling passion. "How can he treat people like this?"

The café owner comes out to clean the tables outside and offers us a cup of tea or coffee. "They're all talking about that inside" she says. "Everyone hates it." Sure enough, as the café empties, a queue forms at our stall. They approach, shaking their heads at the injustice of it all.

And we remind them that the Tories have given the rich nearly £20 billion a year in cuts to Corporation Tax alone, paid for by the suffering of the people at the bottom. They nod when I say the Tories are trying to drive us into the ground. All leave our stall with a copy of the Socialist.

While the Tories are in turmoil over Brexit we should never forget the cold cruelty with which they have had ruined the lives of millions of people. Nor the Blairites who refused to vote against the Welfare Act, or to put up a fight to defend local people in the council chamber.

Universal Credit must be scrapped and replaced with benefits that provide enough to live - paid to all those who need them. And there should be investment in a mass scheme of job creation - providing decent jobs to working-class people, with a minimum wage of at least £10 an hour.

These are policies Corbyn should be loudly championing amid the current parliamentary shambles. This misery must end.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 3 April 2019:


What we think

Corbyn and workers' movement must lead fight for general election and socialist alternative to EU bosses' club


International socialist news and analysis

Mueller report underlines Democrats' weakness

40 years after Three Mile Island disaster

Corporate capitalism jeopardises air safety


News

Cuts and chaos. Enough. General election now!

End Tory cold cruelty: life under austerity in Merthyr

Working families in poverty: fund homes and childcare

Toxic Grenfell fire residue threatens survivors

Poor doors, segregated playgrounds

Probation privatisation failure


Workplace news

Thousands of Honda workers march in Swindon

Greenwich Unite demands workers brought in-house

Well-supported strike against cuts at Bradfield school

Chesterfield hospital privatisation plans

Workplace news in brief


PCS elections

PCS elections: Support socialist candidates


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Socialist change not climate change

Vote for socialist mayor and council candidates

NHS marches in Yorkshire and London

Financing the fightback

Discussion and debate at Leeds Trans Pride

Socialists say we need a workers' Brexit at Young Labour debate

Reclaim the Game book launch


Opinion

The Socialist Inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 3 April 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Universal Credit:

triangleMake the super-rich pay, not the poorest

triangleNo surprise, poverty is rising

triangleWhat will the spending review mean for me?

triangleDon't let Tories starve our kids

triangleTV: Council House Britain

Merthyr:

triangleSocialist newspaper sales round-up

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: Lessons of the Merthyr Rising

triangleAberfan disaster novel reminds us Grenfell was not an anomaly

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

Austerity:

triangleNational demonstration: 'After Covid - Demand a New Normal'

triangleWe will not pay the cost of Covid! Defend the right to protest

triangleNew voter ID laws: Electoral fraud - Tory style

Benefits:

triangleLong Covid: Fight for jobs, benefits and services

triangleA fighting programme for women's rights and socialism

Tax:

triangleBirmingham Clean Air Zone a tax on the poor

Tax credits:

triangleFight expansion of disastrous 'Universal Credit' welfare system

DWP:

triangleVote 'yes' in the PCS DWP ballot

Welfare:

trianglePoverty increasing. Welfare state in crisis. Do we need a new Beveridge Report?

Wales:

triangleBeth Roper inquest: Train company failures ignored

Brexit:

trianglePost-Brexit trade deals: Workers' mobilisation needed to stop corporate extortion

Iain Duncan Smith:

triangle'Vote Leave' fined: For a workers' Brexit

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

16/6/21

Leicestershire

Engineers in fourth week of strike action

16/6/21

PCS

Conference 2021: Divide between union leaders and rank-and-file exposed

16/6/21

Electricians

Sparks win victory!

16/6/21

NHS

Underpaid, overworked - NHS workers say: 'Enough is enough'

16/6/21

Enfield

Enfield byelection: We need councillors prepared to resist

16/6/21

Unite

Left candidate needed for Unite general secretary election

16/6/21

Finance

National finance meeting

16/6/21

Unison

Socialist Party to the fore at Unison LG conference

16/6/21

Birmingham

Birmingham Clean Air Zone a tax on the poor

16/6/21

Cornwall

Johnson's G7 hypocrisy

16/6/21

Homelessness

Pandemic homeless

16/6/21

Protest

International solidarity protests

16/6/21

Socialist

Queues at Socialist Party stall in Cov

16/6/21

BFAWU

Majority of BFAWU members vote to break from Labour

16/6/21

NHS

Now is the time to fight for the NHS

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999