Tory war on welfare, trade unions must act


Last week it was revealed that the number of people forced onto the new scheme by the end of next year is now estimated to be only 400,000 instead of the 4.5 million Duncan Smith had originally predicted, at present just over 2,000 people are involved in the pilot schemes intended to start the roll-out of universal credit.

The Tory works and pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith was up before the parliamentary select committee yesterday to get a roasting from MPs over the latest fiasco around the introduction of the government’s flagship universal credit scheme.

While the reformists of the Labour Party leadership are having a field-day at the expense of Duncan Smith and the catastrophic failure of the IT systems, bought at vast expense to run the system, they cannot escape the fact that they are completely in agreement on the issue of introducing universal credit, which merges six working age benefits into one monthly payment while cutting the overall benefit payments dramatically.

Duncan Smith is holding out the prospect of ‘savings’ from the introduction of the scheme of around £7 billion a year – these savings can only be achieved not through efficiency but through the simple process of cutting state benefits to the bone and driving the unemployed and the disabled off benefits altogether.

The intention is to force workers and young people into low paid jobs, mini-jobs and zero hour contracts, using the unemployed to force down wage levels throughout the country.

The DWP boasted of this in a recent briefing for businesses on the ‘benefits’ to companies of the universal benefit scheme.

They wrote to the bosses:

‘Universal Credit will have a positive effect on your business as you will:

• find it easier to fill any job as more jobseekers will be willing to consider short-term or irregular work

• be able to identify opportunities for flexible working using your existing part-time employees to meet business peaks and troughs, without the overheads associated with recruiting and training new staff

• have access to a wider pool of applicants for your jobs, many of whom are registered on our Universal Jobmatch service, to help you fill your job vacancies quicker.

The ‘benefits’ to capitalism are quite clear, cut welfare payments down to nothing and drive the unemployed and the disabled into jobs that pay so little they cannot afford rent, food or heating, the aim being to create an army of the unemployed to use to hold down wages across the board.

For the working class universal credits mean a life of abject poverty.

A new report on the pilot scheme reports that 34% of those receiving universal credits were forced to borrow money from pay day lenders, banks or friends and family in order to survive, this is up from the 19% figure under jobseekers allowance.

On top of this the introduction of new housing benefit rules with caps on the amount payable is having a dramatic effect on homelessness with over 52% of private landlords admitting that they will not consider renting to anyone on housing benefit for fear of arrears.

In the social housing sector the situation is dire with three quarters of housing association staff reporting increases in rent arrears and evictions with the hated bedroom tax being cited as the main cause.

In order to bail out the banks, the coalition, with the full support of the Labour Party leaders, are demanding that the working class be forced to face a future of poverty and living under the threat of homelessness for the rest of their lives.

This is the only future bankrupt capitalism can offer the working class, the burning issue of the day is to put an end to capitalism once and for all by demanding the TUC call a general strike to remove the government and replace it with a workers government that will advance to a socialist society.