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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 September 2011

Low pay and the housing crisis

Dominic Smith, Winchester

When you tell someone that you're claiming benefits you can be sure that, in many cases, they will initially picture the right-wing tabloid caricature of someone sat at home all day watching TV. While most know better and will quickly shake off that image, its effect is to cast a haze over the reality.

The truth is that many people who claim benefits are already employed - either part-time or, as in my case, full-time but low-paid.

At school we were informed that we would receive money for work that would then allow us to pay all the various bills. Instead, like millions of other low-paid workers, I was to discover that I needed to claim housing benefit to assist with paying my extortionate rent.

When I explain to people that in the Socialist Party we call for building new, quality council housing, I'm often told that it's both unaffordable and would disrupt the so called 'inner workings' of the market.

But how is it cheaper in the long term for the government to spend a staggering 21 billion for the last financial year, subsidising the private renting sector through housing benefit instead of using such sums of money to build new council houses and recouping the money through council rents? This would also create much needed jobs.

This massive subsidy allows the housing profiteers to keep bleeding us dry and does not compel prices to come down to more affordable levels.

The Jarrow march

Youth Fight for Jobs and the Jarrow marchers oppose all cuts in benefits, including the housing benefit cuts which will directly impact on me. I'm also affected by the main focus of the campaign - youth unemployment.

Many young low-paid workers understand that bosses see increases in unemployment as an opportunity to drive down wages and attack working conditions.

Management at my workplace has already raised the sinister threat of the millions of young people out there who would 'kill for my job' in attempts to silence me from making any criticism of them.

To show my opposition to job and benefit cuts in the most direct way I can, I have taken a week's holiday from work in order to march over 100 miles on the Jarrow march in October with the official support of my union branch, Southampton Unite, whose recent dispute with the council has been reported several times in the pages of the Socialist.

March for jobs

75 years ago 200 unemployed men from Jarrow marched from their home in the North East to London to demand jobs and an end to their poverty conditions.

This October Youth Fight for Jobs is marching their route again to demand:

To get involved with the march see email [email protected] or call 020 8558 7947

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 14 September 2011:

Socialist Party features

We need a programme of action to fight back!

Austerity policies strangle growth

Socialist Party youth and students

Pampered politicians plan education massacre... STOP THEM!

Low pay and the housing crisis

Youth must join pensions struggle

EMA cuts: doors close on our future

Cuts hit young people hard in Hastings

Stop attacks on pensions

Hands off our pensions!

NHS pensions - Pay more, work longer and get less!

Socialist Party workplace news


Support Wyndeham workers

No to pay cuts in Carmarthenshire

Workplace news in brief

International socialist news and analysis

How can the national rights of Palestinians be achieved?

Socialist Party news and analysis

NSSN calls on TUC to open the floodgates of mass action

Nationalise the banking system!

Childcare costs push parents into hardship

Save our NHS

Fast news

Socialist Party review

Power and terror

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Save Surrey libraries!

Bristol: Labour's short-lived valour

Hundreds march against Dale Farm evictions

May Day protest case goes to Strasbourg


Home   |   The Socialist 14 September 2011   |   Join the Socialist Party

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Related links:

Low pay:

triangleKeep the Universal Credit uplift

triangleFreeports spell deregulation, low pay and a new race to the bottom

triangleLondon bus dispute against low pay, pay cuts and longer hours

triangleOn the NHS front line

triangleFast fashion, big profits, low pay


triangleNew left NEC meets - Organise the fight back now

trianglePublic sector pay - NHS, teachers - Prepare for action!

triangleGovernment departments move to impose pay cuts: Fightback needed

triangleWorkplace round-up


triangleStop Pimlico gentrification

triangleWe need councillors who will end housing crisis - vote TUSC in Staines on 22 July

triangleHousing: Join the service charge 'strike'


triangleYouth Fight for Jobs is back

trianglePost-pandemic railway battles loom


triangleSocialist Party national youth meeting


triangleTories threaten to axe free prescriptions for older workers


triangle1920s-30s Britain: A working-class movement fighting unemployment and capitalism

Housing benefit:

triangleTory hypocrisy over housing benefit cut


triangleLow-paid workers shouldn't pay for Covid crisis

Reports and campaigns

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