‘THIS IS a time for revolution not patching,’ said Anthony Painter, Director of Action & Research at the Royal Society of Arts, calling for Universal Credit to be scrapped.
He was responding to the National Audit Office report into Universal Credit which says it has ‘taken significantly longer to roll out than intended, may cost more than the benefits system it replaces, and the DWP will never be able to measure whether it has achieved its stated goal of increasing employment’.
Anthony Painter continued: ‘The NAO’s report shows that Universal Credit is failing on its own narrow terms – it is proving an administrative nightmare, and most importantly, it promised to be much more humane but has led to delays, debt, and destitution.’ Painter describes ‘the very real harmful impacts of the Universal Credit roll-out – rent arrears, debt and the need for increasing numbers to turn to food banks’.
Universal Credit replaces six benefits: Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, income based Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support. Payments are made on a monthly basis, with a waiting period of at least six weeks before an initial payment is made.
During this period claimants are left destitute. Even if they manage to borrow money off family and friends or visit food banks to stave off starvation, their landlords will not wait six weeks without payment and many people are being forcibly evicted from their homes before their first payment of Universal Credit ever clears.
Even if a claimant makes it through the six weeks without a penny, when they finally do start receiving payments, the money is put directly into the claimant’s bank account. All money is received as a lump sum. It is then up to the claimant to decide whether to pay rent, heat or eat – however, they will not be able to do all three as Universal Credit represents a savage cut in the overall amount a person receives.
As of February 2016, 364,000 people were on Universal Credit. In April 2018, The Trussell Trust reported that their food banks in areas where Universal Credit had been rolled out had seen an average 52% rise in demand compared to the previous year, while homelessness in some Universal Credit areas has doubled. Universal Credit is now being rolled out all over the country, with the government aiming to have 7-8 million people forced onto the slave society system. At the same time as Universal Credit is being rolled out, Jobcentres all over the country are being shut!
Labour shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood said: ‘This NAO report shows just how disastrously wrong the Conservatives have got the roll-out of Universal Credit.’ However, Labour stops short of demanding Universal Credit is scrapped. Labour instead calls for the roll-out to be ‘paused’.
This is a disgraceful position. Of course Universal Credit must be scrapped. It is one of the most vicious sticks that the Tories are using to beat the working class. Universal Credit drives the most vulnerable people in society off benefits into abject poverty, starvation and homelessness – and Labour won’t even call for it to be scrapped!
The Tory plan is to make life for those who were on benefits so intolerable that they are driven into accepting any job, no matter how low paid and how many hours they are made to work.
This is the return to the Victorian attitude that the mass of the poor are ‘undeserving’ and must be ‘beaten into submission’ until they are prepared to work for a pittance with all their resistance to oppression broken.
Corbyn and the Labour Party are wrong to accept Universal Credit ‘in principle’. It can’t be ‘fixed’; it can’t be made more ‘humane’ or ‘paused’; it must be scrapped, and the Tory government must be scrapped along with it.
The working class is going well beyond the Labour Party. A revolution is needed. Workers are not demanding that their oppression be made more humane. They are demanding that this government be brought down and be replaced by a workers government and socialism. There will be no return to the Victorian era. It is a question of ‘Forward to Socialism!’