Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1025/28517

From The Socialist newspaper, 16 January 2019

Universal Credit: robbing the working class

photo Dan Moyle/CC

photo Dan Moyle/CC   (Click to enlarge)

David Maples, Lambeth and South West London Socialist Party

What is the real problem with Universal Credit? It's constantly in the news, with politicians criticising delays in payment and design flaws. But most do not address the fundamental issue: austerity.

The Universal Credit benefit system is part of the general Tory onslaught against the welfare state. The Socialist Party stands opposed to all these attacks, not just the worst features of them.

And some of the features of Universal Credit have yet to be widely publicised.

After decades of losing 'proper' jobs, many workers have had to resort to some kind of self-employment. They will soon be subject to the 'minimum income floor'. This assumes self-employed workers earn at least the minimum wage - regardless of actual earnings, which are often lower.

Universal Credit also includes punitive provisions aimed at forcing workers to increase their working hours - regardless of personal circumstances such as care responsibilities, or whether the additional work even exists.

Profit

These attacks are about propping up capitalist profit. Between 1966 and 1982, unemployed workers could get an earnings-related supplement to their unemployment benefit - up to 90% of previous earnings.

But having seen the potential strength of the trade union movement in the big battles of the 1970s, Margaret Thatcher's newly elected Tory government had a high priority of creating unemployment to try to weaken union power.

An overvalued pound made it harder to sell overseas. Combined with British industry's legacy of low investment levels - compared with rival capitalist economies like high-tech Germany - this resulted in mass redundancies.

Unemployment increased to three million. Against this background, the Tories wanted to reduce benefits to increase competition for jobs - to help drive down wages and restore profits.

Unemployment and underemployment are inherent within any economy based on market competition. Overall they are the fault of capitalism, not individual workers.

New system

A new welfare system needs to take this as its starting point, and also form part of a programme to replace profit-driven jobs chaos with democratic socialist planning - jobs for all. The Blairites instead pander to Tory 'benefit scrounger' myths because they defend the capitalist system.

A new welfare system must be based on a reasonable standard of living for claimants. Pro-capitalist politicians may criticise elements of Universal Credit. But they don't criticise the derisory level of benefits, exacerbated by the Tories' four-year in-work benefits freeze.

A new welfare system also has to have adequate administrative resources. PCS, the trade union for benefits workers in the Department for Work and Pensions, is calling for an extra 5,000 staff and a freeze on Universal Credit roll-out until its administrative disasters have been resolved.

Funding to advice bureaus, law centres and legal aid must be restored, so claimants can get help to receive their full entitlement.

Most urgently, Labour councils should use their existing financial powers to ensure no one is evicted, cold or hungry because of Universal Credit.

Jeremy Corbyn should promise to reimburse councils which underwrite all Universal Credit losses if he takes power. This could make the system unworkable, hasten the downfall of the Tory government, and prove to working-class voters that Corbyn is serious about fighting for them.

Tories out - scrap Universal Credit - fight for living wages and welfare. 21 billion a year in unclaimed benefits is the real scandal in the welfare system.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - 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.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • 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.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 16 January 2019:


What we think

May facing Brexit vote catastrophe


Socialist Party news and analysis

After Grenfell, thousands still in high-rise firetrap blocks

Universal Credit: robbing the working class

30% of English secondaries in deficit

Them & Us


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

'Tories out' demo

A key task - strengthen Tamil Solidarity campaign


Council cuts

Glasgow: huge turnout to fight closure of Whitehill pool

Surrey: save our children's centres

Caerphilly: right-wing Islwyn Labour councillors fight to impose cuts

Nothing to declare? Dodgy councillors hide vested interests

North Tyneside: march to save our footbridge


Socialist history

The 1979 'Winter of Discontent'


International socialist news and analysis

USA: federal workers without pay - but immediate mass action can end shutdown

India: biggest general strike ever

France: union-led action and assemblies can defeat Macron

Mexico: police silence on horrific attack on CWI member


Workplace news and analysis

Unions must fight and demand nationalisation to save thousands of car industry jobs

Hundreds join Manc RMT picket line in solidarity after far-right attack

UCU: Vote Yes and Yes in the higher education pay and equality ballot

Re-elect Chris Baugh for AGS


Opinion

Sorry to Bother You: "Socialist film Botox that made me feel young again"

Brexit: The Uncivil War - an interesting but inaccurate portrayal of EU referendum

The Socialist Inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 16 January 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Universal Credit:

triangleDon't let Tories starve our kids

triangleTV: Council House Britain

triangleWelfare after Covid-19

trianglePCS union: Reject longer DWP opening hours

trianglePCS union demands better deal for benefits claimants

Welfare:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleEven social-care bosses say cuts have gone too far

triangleEnd Tory cold cruelty: life under austerity in Merthyr

triangleTories out. Scrap Universal Credit. Fight for living wages and welfare!

Benefits:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleJob Support Scheme - too little, too late

triangleTories' obesity plans - blaming individuals not the profit system

Austerity:

triangleWhy the Socialist Party is backing Hugo Pierre for Unison general secretary

triangleWorld capitalism's terrified strategists abandon austerity - for now

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

26/11/20

NHS

PPE contracts: It pays to have friends in high places

25/11/20

Covid

Covid crisis: "We won't pay the price"

25/11/20

Health

Stop the Tories putting profit before health

18/11/20

Unison

Women workers need strong trade unions to defend their jobs, pay and services

18/11/20

Covid

Covid, vaccines, 'big pharma' - and the need for socialism

18/11/20

NEU

Campaign for school Covid safety must continue

18/11/20

Government

Tories in turmoil... 'Reset' the whole system! Fight for socialism

18/11/20

Government

Tory crisis cannot be 'reset' - workers need a new mass party

18/11/20

Children

System failing thousands of children in care

18/11/20

Education

Wales exams scrapped: What's behind the headline?

18/11/20

Croydon

Croydon Council declares bankruptcy - no cuts in Croydon or any other council

18/11/20

Universities

Tories student 'evacuation' plan won't work

11/11/20

Police

Spycops inquiry : why the capitalist state feared and continues to fear socialism

11/11/20

Covid

Capitalists vs working class - not in it together

11/11/20

Children

Tory U-turn: Free school meals

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


December 2020

November 2020

October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999