Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1036/28922

From The Socialist newspaper, 3 April 2019

End Tory cold cruelty: life under austerity in Merthyr

Scrap Universal Credit now

Socialist Party members campaigning against Universal Credit in Wales, photo Socialist Party Wales

Socialist Party members campaigning against Universal Credit in Wales, photo Socialist Party Wales   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Reid

It's a cloudy March morning in Merthyr and there is a steady flow of people going about their business.

This town has received a bad press as the "benefit capital of Britain". The Mirror newspaper pointed out the average male life expectancy on one of the estates is lower than Haiti's. But it's a friendly town.

We set up our stall against Universal Credit. People start approaching as soon as our posters go up.

Lisa signs the petition straight away. She has a young child and, because her partner is working, doesn't get out-of-work benefits. She's worried that when Universal Credit hits they will lose tax credits. Her dad has been evicted because of Universal Credit.

"He's sofa surfing now" she says "59 and nowhere to live". He lost his flat because the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) held up his benefits for so long that the private landlord lost patience and turfed him out.

Sonya comes up to the stall questioning us. "Scrap Universal Credit?" she asks, "what will people live on?" We explain we want it replaced with benefits people can actually live on. "Right!" she says, and signs our petition.

It turns out Sonya has fallen foul of the strict rules on tax credits. She works for McDonald's and ensured she was contracted for 16 hours a week so she qualified for tax credits to top up her pay.

But then she got a letter from the DWP who had found out that she had a 15-minute unpaid break every day. So, technically, she did not work 16 hours but 13 and a half hours a week, and had therefore never qualified for tax credits. They demanded she return over £3,000 in overpayments. "I couldn't pay that back!" she said, so they settled for £10 a week for six years!

Then Gwyn comes up to sign: "they're cruel bastards" he says as he leans his stick on the stall. Gwyn has worked in Merthyr Vale colliery and then bricklaying after the pits closed. His knees are shot. The Welsh NHS sent him for a new knee to the Bupa hospital but it all went wrong and he has to have another one to replace it. Now the other knee has gone and that will have to be replaced as well.

But he says private company Capita found him fit to work - even though he can hardly walk. The DWP cut off his benefits and then an administrative error delayed his appeal so he had to resubmit it. He and his wife have not had a penny since October. They have held off eviction by the housing association so far, but can only live with their family helping out.

Gwyn is a tough but gentle man: "I'm not religious, but if there is a hell that's where Iain Duncan Smith is going", he says with unsmiling passion. "How can he treat people like this?"

The café owner comes out to clean the tables outside and offers us a cup of tea or coffee. "They're all talking about that inside" she says. "Everyone hates it." Sure enough, as the café empties, a queue forms at our stall. They approach, shaking their heads at the injustice of it all.

And we remind them that the Tories have given the rich nearly £20 billion a year in cuts to Corporation Tax alone, paid for by the suffering of the people at the bottom. They nod when I say the Tories are trying to drive us into the ground. All leave our stall with a copy of the Socialist.

While the Tories are in turmoil over Brexit we should never forget the cold cruelty with which they have had ruined the lives of millions of people. Nor the Blairites who refused to vote against the Welfare Act, or to put up a fight to defend local people in the council chamber.

Universal Credit must be scrapped and replaced with benefits that provide enough to live - paid to all those who need them. And there should be investment in a mass scheme of job creation - providing decent jobs to working-class people, with a minimum wage of at least £10 an hour.

These are policies Corbyn should be loudly championing amid the current parliamentary shambles. This misery must end.

Donate to the Socialist Party

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 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.
  • 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 Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 3 April 2019:


What we think

Corbyn and workers' movement must lead fight for general election and socialist alternative to EU bosses' club


International socialist news and analysis

Mueller report underlines Democrats' weakness

40 years after Three Mile Island disaster

Corporate capitalism jeopardises air safety


News

Cuts and chaos. Enough. General election now!

End Tory cold cruelty: life under austerity in Merthyr

Working families in poverty: fund homes and childcare

Toxic Grenfell fire residue threatens survivors

Poor doors, segregated playgrounds

Probation privatisation failure


Workplace news

Thousands of Honda workers march in Swindon

Greenwich Unite demands workers brought in-house

Well-supported strike against cuts at Bradfield school

Chesterfield hospital privatisation plans

Workplace news in brief


PCS elections

PCS elections: Support socialist candidates


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Socialist change not climate change

Vote for socialist mayor and council candidates

NHS marches in Yorkshire and London

Financing the fightback

Discussion and debate at Leeds Trans Pride

Socialists say we need a workers' Brexit at Young Labour debate

Reclaim the Game book launch


Opinion

The Socialist Inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 3 April 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Universal Credit:

triangleTories attack UC recipients with 'get any job' threat

triangleTory Universal Credit crumbs no solution to cost of living crisis

triangleTories plunge millions further into poverty

triangleTory cuts to UC: we need a union fightback

triangleHands off the uplift

Merthyr:

triangleChartism: The world's first working-class movement

triangleSocialist newspaper sales round-up

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: Lessons of the Merthyr Rising

triangleAberfan disaster novel reminds us Grenfell was not an anomaly

Austerity:

triangleWhy I joined: I'm tired of austerity and status quo

triangleWhy a socialist candidate for Birmingham Erdington is vital

triangleWorkplace news in brief

Benefits:

triangleWest Sussex care campaigners' victory

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: The minimum wage and working week, pensions and benefits

Tax:

triangleCut our fuel bills - nationalise energy

Tax credits:

triangleFight expansion of disastrous 'Universal Credit' welfare system

DWP:

trianglePCS 2022 elections

Welfare:

triangleMutual aid, the welfare state and the fight for a new mass workers' party

Wales:

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Perspectives for the fightback in England & Wales

Brexit:

triangleWest London Socialist Party: Northern Ireland and Brexit

Iain Duncan Smith:

triangleTen years since our 330-mile Jarrow March for Jobs

Minimum wage:

triangleSheffield Just East couriers picket and march for pay rise

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

23/2/22

Cardiff

Restore Cardiff's slashed services

23/2/22

Pay

Just Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut

23/2/22

UCU

University workers continue strike against bosses' attacks

23/2/22

London

Tube workers strike in defence of pay, pensions and conditions

23/2/22

Students

Workers and students unite and fight

23/2/22

Fees

Fighting fees and marketisation after 2 March student walkout

23/2/22

Brighton

Brighton Green and Labour cuts - workers and communities fight back

23/2/22

Anti-cuts

Surrey: Unions and campaigns say stand as an anti-cuts candidate

23/2/22

Newham

Newham City Farm - closed with no consultation

23/2/22

Women

London Socialist Party women's meeting

23/2/22

Socialist

1 March: Socialist Party new website launch

23/2/22

Coventry

Coventry bin strikers lobby strike-breaking Labour council

23/2/22

Strike

Scunny scaffs action forces bosses to the table

23/2/22

Usdaw

Usdaw: 'Reinstate Max' week of action

23/2/22

Anti-cuts

Trade union support for standing anti-cuts election candidates

triangleMore Reports and campaigns 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: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2022

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

February 2022

January 2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999