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The Labour Party Conference starts this weekend and there’s much speculation if a motion calling for Universal Credit to be scrapped will feature on the program. The motions have yet to be announced but with unions now joining claimants in calling for it to be scrapped, Labour would be letting claimants down if they don’t hold a vote at the very least.
Unions pile on the pressure
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) which represents 48 unions in the UK held its annual conference last week. The TUC Disabled Workers Conference voted passed a motion at its conference in June calling for Universal Credit to be scrapped.
The motion stated;
“Congress calls on the General Council to campaign around universal credit and consider the judicial review’s recommendations and to call on the incoming Labour government to:
i. stop and scrap universal credit
ii. carry out a far-reaching social security reform that truly makes work pay and to protect those unable to work.”
TUC Disabled Workers Conference
So important is this issue, they put it forward as the only motion they wanted voted on the union’s main conference last week. The motion was passed by the conference comfortably meaning it joins The Unite Union in calling for Universal Credit to be scrapped. This put them at odds with Labour’s official policy of “pause and fix.”
As my friend Mr Topple wrote yesterday, this will pile the pressure on The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Labour to act.
Mr Topple is a arduent campaigner for Universal Credit to be scrapped and I highly recommend to check his articles out at The Canary.
Claimants will feel their voice is ignored
It’s not only the unions calling it for it to be scrapped. Claimants of the punitive benefit have long called for it to be scrapped. I know I’m one of them.
Should Labour not at the very least hold a vote for it to be scrapped Labour will make claimants feel as if their voice is ignored.
The best people to inform policy makers is the people living it every single day. While reports and studies offer a good insight they can never tell close to the entire story.
A report doesn’t convey just how bad it can get, how low it can make you or how the stories they think are worst case scenarios are actually common occurrences.
To be a true party for the many they need to be radical and listen to the many.
Claimants shouldn’t have a cost value
The Tories method in cuts has been to cost everything and that includes claimants. This is their way of dehumanising them to justify their cuts. The cost of implementing Universal Credit has been high in monetary terms and in human terms.
They have spent more than originally planned, not kept even close to their timescales and change the system so much some same we can’t go back because it will be too costly.
The National Audit Office (NAO) said in their report in June that despite the fact Universal Credit may never save money, they think that it has gone too far to be scrapped due to the cost.
What the NAO are doing though is placing a cost on claimant’s welfare. I’d much rather the public purse was worse off in the short term to ensure that we have a humane and caring system, than we continue to punish the vulnerable to save a few quid now.
They need to act now
Labour cannot wait to declare their intent either. Early next year the Tories plan to accelerate the roll-out with “managed migration.” This will see millions currently on Employment and Support Allowance and Tax Credits forceably transferred to Universal Credit.
BENEFITS NEWS; a group of who campaign for better conditions for benefit claimants had this to say;
“We have very serious concerns, that whilst Labour vowed, in their 2017 Manifesto to review all Social Security, which is greatly appreciated, the real urgency is now.
‘Managed Migration’ commences January 2019, ‘slower’, before being ramped up from July 2019 – this simply can not be allowed to go ahead. For one thing, we totally disagree that ESA claimants should be forced off ESA and on to UC at all.
The policy is not fit for sick, incapacitated and this Tory Government has proven, by it’s reciting “Universal Credit is getting people into work and helping to stay in work” – when many ESA claimants used to work, to the point, they couldn’t any longer and that sick means sick. It is callous to show utter disregard.
Many won’t be able to comply with conditionality and we can presume, through experience, not every ESA claimant will be exempted from enduring the vile treatment of meetings with Work Coaches; at Job Centres or wrongfully being Sanctioned.
It is not a gamble Labour should take.” – BENEFITS NEWS
They also had a warming for Tax Credit claimants which should push them to call for Labour to act now.
“Tax Credit claimants are in for a shock, at present not needing to meet the harsh UC Conditionality nor be Sanctioned – nor the interventions of weekly / fortnightly or eight weekly meetings or up to 35 hours per week, seeking jobs. Labour needs to protect all persons. No other party is clearly wanting to scrap Universal Credit.
Do it now, before 2019.”
My view is clear. Universal Credit must be scrapped as soon as possible.
Threatening and damaging sanctions that push people into work whether they are fit or not, must be stopped and the outsourcing of health assessments must end. Claimant’s doctors and specialists are best placed to assess their patient.
Should a face to face assessment be required, the old system of using another local GP practice is my most favourable option. This is because they can access the patient’s medical records in full and also consult with the local GP to make an informed decision.
Thousands of people will be watching the conference next week for action Universal Credit. Should they fail to act, I feel that they’ll have missed a major opportunity. Not only will they be continuing to support a unfixable and punishing benefit but they could well lose votes because of that stance.
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