Tories to cut another £3.7bn from disability benefits

Tories to cut another £3.7bn from disability benefits

The below article was written by a member of the PCS union in Coventry, which represents DWP staff.

The Tories plan to make savings of £3.7bn from disability benefits by reducing the number of people eligible for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) by 160,000.

This is their response to two tribunal rulings from late last year, one of which would mean the same number of “points” on the assessment given to a person needing help with medication or monitoring a condition like diabetes, as well as someone needing help with therapy like kidney dialysis. The other ruling would score someone who struggled to travel independently because of a condition like anxiety the same points as someone who was blind, for example.

Under this government, disabled people are facing a relentless attack – alongside the cuts to PIP, from April 2017 the weekly rate for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for the majority of new claimants will be cut by 28% per week to only £73.10, a pittance for those who need the support!

Shockingly, Conservative Party Chair Patrick McLoughlin claims they give “very generous schemes” overall, as well as stating that in terms of supporting disabled people, they do “very proudly” in this country!

In the face of these attacks, as well as the threat of further cuts and privatisation of the NHS, the programme of Jobcentre closures across the country and the massive cuts to local council budgets, what is needed is a joint campaign of struggle involving trade unions, the unemployed and claimants, as well as those involved in groups such as DPAC (Disabled People Against the Cuts).

This was clearly highlighted in a recent well-attended Coventry showing of I, Daniel Blake, followed by a Q&A session with Ken Loach – with representatives from the PCS, UNITE Community, disabled people and others involved in other campaigning groups.

Record number of evictions in Coventry

Record number of evictions in Coventry

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Anti-bedroom tax campaigners prevent a tenant from being evicted

Figures released by the Ministry of Justice have shown a record number of tenants were evicted in Coventry last year. 288 homes were repossessed in the city, a 14% rise from 2014 – and the Citizens Advice Bureau has reported a 100% rise in enquiries about homelessness.

Sophie Parks, communications and marketing manager for Coventry CAB, was quoted in the Coventry Telegraph saying “The cost of living and low wages are factors but undoubtedly it is welfare reforms that are the predominant cause [of the rise in evictions].”

The MOJ figures only cover private tenancies, but last year Coventry Against the Bedroom Tax campaigners prevented two evictions from social housing properties which were caused by the bedroom tax and other benefit cuts. Sadly more evictions are to be expected with benefit cuts continuing to bite.

Coventry has become a paradise for landlords, with low regulation and plenty of students to exploit with higher rents – regardless of the consequences for communities throughout the city. The council should introduce compulsory registration for all landlords, and a cap on rents – but perhaps it’s not surprising that they haven’t done this, as at least eight Labour councillors including council leader Ann Lucas are believed to be landlords!

Coventry Socialist Party calls for:

  • No evictions here! An end to all evictions caused by benefit cuts and the bedroom tax. Join Coventry Against the Bedroom Tax‘s Anti Eviction Network!
  • Build council homes! For thousands of new council homes in Coventry.
  • End landlordism! Compulsory registration for all landlords in the city, to stop dodgy landlords ripping us off.
  • Cap rents not benefits! For a cap on rents to stop landlords milking tenants and raking in housing benefit with extortionate rents.

 

Miliband Joins Tory Onslaught on Young People

Miliband and Labour have once again joined the Tory onslaught on young people

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Not content with seeing hundreds of thousands of young people on the dole or drifting in and out of low paid, insecure zero hour contacts. Miliband has today announced plans to ‘out Tory the Tories’, by setting out plans to cut benefits 18-to-21-year-olds who do not have qualifications equivalent to one A-Level. Replacing them with a means-tested payment dependent on training if Labour is elected in 2015.

The overwhelming majority of young people out of work and on the dole today, aren’t there out of choice. They have been forced through the dire lack of jobs across Britain today as more jobs are cut and more people thrown on the dole as a consequence.

Instead of fighting for the millions of young people thrown on the scrap heap of austerity in 21st century Britain. The Labour Party have once again shown their blatant support for more Austerity and the idea that ordinary working class people should pay for the crisis of the banks and free market system.

The solution to youth unemployment is not ever harsher and more punitive treatment of those who are out of work; it’s the creation of millions of secure, well-paid socially useful jobs – jobs that can provide the foundation for stable and happy lives for the next generation, as well as homes and services for those who need them.

Coventry Socialist Party members on youth demo

Coventry Socialist Party members on youth demo

Not one of the mainstream political parties currently offers us that. For young people facing unemployment – anger, frustration, stress and even despair can be normal responses to the bleak prospects austerity offers. But a concerted fightback, by young people working alongside trade unionists, socialists and other campaigners, can challenge the cuts consensus and help secure a decent future for the ‘99%’.

We say:
• A living wage that’s enough to live on – fight for a £10 an hour minimum wage and no youth exemptions
• Scrap workfare and all unpaid work schemes
• For secure jobs with guaranteed hours – scrap zero-hour contracts
• For government investment in well-paid socially useful jobs with full trade union rights for workers
• Prevent job losses. Stop public sector cuts
• Share out the work. For a 35-hour working week with no loss of pay. No increase in retirement age