TORY Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government unveiled its plans to target the unemployed and others on benefits, depriving them of their entitlements, or making draconian cuts to their benefits.
Former right-wing Tory leader and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition, Iain Duncan Smith, outlined the proposals that will be enshrined in the Welfare Reform Bill.
Using propaganda spin and ignoring the highest unemployment rate for almost two decades, Duncan Smith said: ‘A system that was originally designed to support the poorest in society is now trapping them in the very condition it was supposed to alleviate.’
He implied that the only thing preventing the unemployed getting jobs was that they were in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance, or other benefits. The reality is that 2.5 million people are unemployed and desperately looking for jobs that are not there!
On Tuesday, the budget of the Department of Work and Pensions was slashed by £535m as part of the £6.25bn package of cuts this year. Even more will be axed in 2011 to cut the budget deficit, to repay the rocketing national debt and in response to the impact of the deepening world crisis on decrepit British capitalism.
Inside the minister’s velvet glove – the expressions of concern for poor people – is the mailed fist poised to smash benefits.
Duncan Smith said five million people were on out-of-work benefits and 1.4 young people under the age of 25 were not working, or in full-time education. Clearly the Tories have got the latter group in their sights.
The Tories’ proposals for a Work Programme will not only be used to force young people off benefits and into cheap-labour jobs, older jobless workers are going to suffer the same treatment.
Any worker who refuses to take any job at any rate of pay will face ‘penalties’. In an interview, Duncan Smith said: ‘The Jobseeker’s Allowance has a sanction at present. It just has not been used. If you simply are not going to play ball, then the taxpayer has a right to say: “You need to know there is a limit to the amount of support we are going to give you.” The sanction comes into play.’
Alongside this, the 2.5 million people claiming incapacity benefit will be subjected to summary assessments, depriving them of their right to support.
The Work and Pensions Secretary wants to see the current eight welfare benefits cut to just two!
Significantly, in the knowledge that the onslaught on the Welfare State will provoke a massive confrontation with the working class, the Work and Pensions Secretary made an appeal to right-wing Labour politicians to join the coalition. The arch Labour right-winger, Frank Field, has already volunteered for this.
Duncan Smith said yesterday: ‘I’m determined that we take this once-in-a-generation chance to tie two parties together, and possibly elements of the third, to get the job done.’
Workers in work and in the trade unions must make their leaders fight against this onslaught on benefit rights.
Those in work and the unemployed must be united. The ranks of the unions must be open to the unemployed, particularly the youth, recruiting them with nominal subscriptions and organising them in branches appropriate to their former employment, or in line with the jobs young people want.
Nearly all the big trade unions participated in the march to defend the Welfare State on April 10. Now they must be made to organise national joint industrial action across the public secto r to stop cuts in public services and defend every post threatened with the axe.
Those union leaders, who refuse to organise the unemployed alongside those with jobs in the fight to defend the Welfare State, must be replaced by leaders who will fight.
As the result of the bankruptcy of British capitalism this country is about to experience a Greece-style situation, with millions of workers taking strike action to defend jobs, pay and welfare rights against the draconian cuts of the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition.
Only an indefinite political general strike, to remove this counter-revolutionary Tory-Liberal Democrat regime and its replacement by a workers’ government that will defend and extend the Welfare State, through socialist policies, can offer the working class and its youth a decent future.