AT the same time as the Brown government continues to spend hundreds of billions to ‘preserve’ the bankers and the capitalist system, his government is set to claw this expenditure back off the working class and the poor, by imposing draconian cuts on government services, deliberately hitting the very poorest and most needy people.
Up till now, single parents with a youngest child under 16 in their household have been able to claim income support and have been under no obligation to prove they have been seeking work.
From November 24, single parents, with major responsibilities for their children, are going to be forced to attend Jobcentres and prove that they are actively looking for work, and be available to be directed into very low paid jobs by officials, with the loss of 40% of their benefit, and extreme hardship for their children, as the penalty if they refuse.
This is subject to parliamentary approval which is expected to be of the rubber stamp variety, with an absolute minimum of debate and discussion.
Single parents are going to be taken progressively off of income support. From 24 November, all lone parents with a youngest child of 12 or over, or who will be 12 in the next year who apply for benefit – except those with a disability or health condition – will be placed on JSA.
From 26 October 2009, if a lone parent’s youngest child is aged 10 or over, or will be 10 in the next year, their Income Support will stop during that year.
From 25 October 2010, if a lone parent’s youngest child is aged seven or over, or will be seven in the next year, their Income Support will stop during that year.
Jobcentre Plus will contact the lone parent eight weeks before their Income Support is due to stop. They will tell them when their last payment will be and invite them to an interview with an adviser. The adviser will explain what they need to do to make a claim for another benefit.
Even the government appointed Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) cannot go along with this massive attack on the poor.
The SSC insists that the ‘reforms’, modelled on US Workfare policies, will cause enormous worry and stress to single parents and their children.
The SSC continues that ‘Lone parents who are sanctioned face financial penalties that will increase child poverty – an outcome at odds with the primary rationale that the Department of Work and Pensions has put forward.’
The SSC has been joined by Terry Rooney the Labour chairman of the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee.
He said that ministers should not press ahead with their plans to force parents with children under 12 to look for work until nationwide childcare arrangements were in place.
Rooney insisted: ‘We need irrefutable evidence that there is full, affordable childcare provision before we do more. There is lots of evidence that it is very patchy, and in London it is inordinately expensive.’
Rooney pointed to a contradiction between the government’s commitment to the family and its welfare plans.
‘On the one hand the government is saying it wants parents to stop their children becoming vandals, on the other it is saying to lone parents “go out to work”,’ he said.
The capitalist crisis is now deepening with a massive price inflation taking place as well as rapidly rising unemployment.
Even if single parents are willing to leave their children in the lurch and go to work, there are no jobs for them to go to.
Brown has made it clear that he puts the banks and capitalism first. His attacks on the working class flows from that position.
Trade unions must defend the working class and the poor by bringing down the Brown government and going forward to a workers government that will carry out socialist policies.