Universal Credit = war on benefits

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YESTERDAY the Tory-led coalition launched its ‘pathfinder’ trial of the new Universal Credit System at a job centre in Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester.

From here the government intend to roll-out the scheme nationally to encompass the over six million people who rely on the whole range of benefits from unemployment, income support, child tax credit and housing benefit in order to survive.

All these are to be replaced at a stroke with the one single capped payment available only through applications made via the internet and payable on a monthly basis.

The main architect of the universal credit system, the Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith, made it quite clear what the intentions of its introduction were when he said it was about ‘changing people’, making a ‘fundamental cultural shift’ before adding ‘this will revolutionise the way people experience the welfare state’.

The entire drive of the government is to solve the historic crisis of capitalism, with its banking collapse and destruction of manufacturing industry, by driving up the rate of exploitation of the working class to levels not experienced since the 19th century.

Levels that would see workers experiencing the same levels of exploitation that capitalism has inflicted on countries like Bangladesh or Sri Lanka where wages are so low that workers exist on a bowl of rice a day and work in the most appalling and dangerous conditions.

Now, in its worst ever economic crisis, the capitalists are attempting to force the same levels of exploitation onto the working class at home.

This is the real meaning of Duncan Smith’s boast that he will drive people into work by making it impossible to live on the benefits which they are entitled to.

The fact that there are no jobs in this collapsing economy is entirely irrelevant to Duncan Smith and the government, they are seeking to save billions by cutting benefits in order to pay back the huge debts caused by the banking crisis while, at the same time, creating a vast reservoir of unemployed to be used to enforce the wage cutting programme, to drive the wages of those in jobs down to the barest minimum needed to ensure they can crawl into work the next day.

The real intent of Duncan Smith and the coalition was revealed when he said that anyone can live on £53 a week.

Even this is considered too high by a whole section of the capitalist class and, very soon after his statement, the right-wing press were full of stories about how it was entirely possible for people to live on a pound-a-day by only shopping at charity shops and by getting free food from food banks.

This is the level the coalition are determined to drive the working class down to, scrounging for food in dustbins and living on the streets when evicted by landlords as benefits no longer match the unaffordable rent levels demanded.

As for the leadership of the Labour Party, they are in complete agreement with Duncan Smith and the government on making workers pay.

Shadow work and pensions minister, Liam Byrne, called the universal credit system ‘a fine idea’ and boasted that it ‘builds on Labour’s tax credit revolution.’

His only complaint was the fact that the trial was limited to such a small number of people and he feared that it would not work efficiently enough.

In other words, the Labour Party is promising to carry out the cuts much more efficiently than the Tories.

Duncan Smith is right in one respect, all these attacks are having a revolutionising effect on the working class which is learning by the day that capitalism cannot offer any future except poverty and misery and that the only answer is to demand that the TUC call an immediate general strike to bring down the government and go forward to a workers government and socialism.