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Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/9281

Posted on 14 December 2001 at 13:06 GMT

Tory Cuts But Better Packaging

NEW LABOUR wants an American-style welfare system in this country. In some ways although they are continuing the Tory cuts they are more astute at packaging the attacks than the Tories.

Katrine Williams, Cardiff

New Labour is laying the blame on the individual for not having a job or being unable to work, promoting the principle that everyone has an obligation to help themselves through work wherever possible.

Every new benefit claimant under 60 will have to attend a 'work-focused' interview in the new agency Jobcentre Plus. Their claim will not be looked at until they attend and participate in the interview. Then regularly throughout the claim they will be required to attend 'work-focused' interviews. If they don't attend and participate then their benefit will be cut.

All these interviews will take place in an open plan Jobcentre-style environment. That also raises privacy as an issue for claimants discussing the nature of their illness or disability.

According to government surveys seven out of ten single parents want to work as well as 1.4 million disabled people. The areas with the highest levels of claimants on sickness and disability benefits or lone parent benefits are also areas of high unemployment where manufacturing and industry have been decimated and well-paid jobs are rare or non-existent.

New Labour is concentrating its efforts on increasing in-work benefits and allowing out-of-work benefits to fall behind.

Rather than subsidising low pay with in-work benefits such as Working Family Tax Credit the minimum wage should be raised above the poverty threshold to 7.50 an hour so that people are actually able to escape the poverty trap.

Resources should be put into forcing employers to pay a living wage and bring them to book if they discriminate against single parents, the disabled or throw older workers onto the scrap-heap.

Rather than paying tax credits, resources should be put into public-sector good quality childcare, free to all. Benefits should be straightforward to claim without any compulsion - the real task is to create a system where all those who want to work have a real opportunity to do so without facing a future in poverty, trapped on means tested benefits.

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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.
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Related links:

Benefits:

triangleBooks that inspired me: The Road to Wigan Pier

triangleLife in lockdown - being home from school when you're poor is hard

triangleBosses profit out of 'starvation' food parcels

triangleMake the super-rich pay, not the poorest

triangleNo surprise, poverty is rising

Poverty:

triangleBooks that inspired me: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

triangleUNICEF feeds children in the UK for the first time

triangleLuxury for some, poverty for the rest of us

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

Labour:

triangleMay elections: Tories and Labour's Khan both vying to slash public services

triangleMillionaire tendency regains control of Scottish Labour

triangleTUSC to hold local elections conference in February

Jobcentre:

triangleJobcentre reopening: only union struggle will put safety first

triangleCivil servants in Paisley protest after Covid outbreak

Disabled:

triangleCripTales: A painful reflection of a system that pits us against each other

Claimants:

triangleFilm: 'Sick' - 'They've got people looking in the wrong direction'

Disability:

triangleCapitalism cause of disproportionate disabled deaths and isolation

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