MORE than 1.2 million people are on Universal Credit, while more than 100 new Jobcentres will be operating it by Christmas. Universal Credit is being rolled out to about 100,000 people a month, leaving in its wake a mass of evictions, and homelessness, poverty and food bank use.
In some areas where it has been enforced, homelessness has doubled. Three-quarters of tenants on the ‘six-in-one benefit’, are in rent arrears. This is no mystery since when you are moved onto Universal Credit, you do not receive a penny for five weeks. This puts every single claimant at risk of eviction.
By May 2019 there will be two million on Universal Credit, and by December 2019 it’ll be three million. 8.5 million people are expected to be on Universal Credit by 2023. No wonder millions of people are angry and demanding that it be scrapped. Working tax credit, child tax credit, jobseeker’s allowance, income support, income-related employment and support allowance and housing benefit are all rolled into a one-off payment. This payment is a severe cut compared to the amount received before.
It is then up to the claimant to decide whether the family is to eat, heat their home or pay rent … the sum received is not enough to do all three. Yesterday, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said in a damning report that ‘the introduction of Universal Credit is causing unacceptable hardship and difficulties for many of the claimants on it.’
According to the Resolution Foundation 3.2 million families are expected to be worse off, with an average loss of £48 a week, which works out as a loss of £2,500 a year. Single parents will also be hit hard, losing on average £26 a week, over £1,300 a year. Tory Works and Pensions minister Esther McVey herself has admitted that working families will lose £200 a month as a direct consequence of the introduction of Universal Credit.
Earlier in the month, Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell admitted that Universal Credit couldn’t be fixed and would ‘have to go’. At the time, McDonnell said: ‘I think most people have now come to the conclusion it has got to be scrapped. I’ve been listening to people over the last few weeks about the roll-out in their particular areas … I think we’re moving to a position now where it’s just not sustainable; it’ll have to go.’
However, just three weeks later, McDonnell in his pre-budget speech avoided the issue and did not mention the scrapping of Universal Credit at all. This was after Labour said that the party position was not that it should be scrapped, only that the ‘roll-out’ should be ‘paused’. Yesterday, Hackney South MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, said that it would be ‘too difficult to unpick the six benefits now’ and that Universal Credit needed to be reformed.
It has also emerged that Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry actually helped draw up Universal Credit! The Unison trade union leadership also refuses to call for it to be scrapped. Instead, its leadership calls on the government ‘to reverse its cuts to Universal Credit so that workers are allowed to keep more of the money they earn every month’.
Those who receive in-work benefits as part of the Universal Credit system … any extra hours they work, or wage rise they get is simultaneously offset by a cut in the amount of benefits they receive. Unison leader Prentis comments that ‘Workers won’t actually see the benefit of any pay rise unless the work allowance goes up at the same time as the minimum wage.’ Otherwise, any extra money goes straight into Treasury coffers and not into the pay packets of those who have earned it.
Even leading Tories such as John Major have warned that Universal Credit will cause bigger riots than the Poll Tax ever did under Thatcher. It finished Thatcher’s career in fact. The trade union leaders don’t want Universal Credit scrapped! Labour doesn’t want it scrapped! Why? Because they refuse to adopt socialist policies to get rid of capitalism. They prefer the working class to take the strain.
The only way to scrap Universal Credit is for the Tory government to be brought down through mass strike action. It must be replaced with a workers’ government that will expropriate the bosses and bring in socialism!