It was with grave concern that WF Trades Council heard a report from a spokesperson from the civil service union PCS about Universal Credit – a new system of welfare payment – and how it will force some poor families into even greater destitution. They informed us that where this new system has been trialed, it has produced even more hardship. So many organisations are up-in-arms, and say it must be halted. “Some people, including families with children have to wait up to 6 weeks to get even a penny. They are forced to food banks, and get evicted when landlords won’t wait for rent.”
Linda Taaffe of the Trades Council was horrified. “In the last few days the revelations of the so-called paradise papers have shown how Lewis Hamilton bought a jet plane for 60million, registered it in the tax haven in the Isle of Man, was given a special appointment at the airport, flew off – and was duly rewarded with an immediate rebate of 3million. One law for the rich, one for the poor!”
This change of bringing all benefits into one payment, pioneered by our local Tory Chingford MP Iain Duncan Smith on behalf of this government for the millionaires (and himself very well-heeled) is bringing back Dickensian conditions. It is scheduled to be rolled out in stages – Walthamstow in February, and a few months later in Leytonstone. Threats to close job centres, like the Job Centre Plus in Leytonstone, are being vigorously opposed by the PCS workers in those offices. They know that those needing welfare would be forced to travel further and can get sanctioned for not turning up on time for an appointment.
We are not taking this lying down. Anyone can fall on hard times, with lay-offs even from well-paid jobs. The idea of never being a pay cheque away from the street is becoming a real fear for more and more young people. Homelessness has increased. Whilst private companies build thousands of unaffordable flats in the borough, the numbers in housing need are as great as ever.
WF Trades Council already supports Christian Kitchen and the Sleep Out on November 17th, and has now decided to launch a campaign to get the law changed so that payments to people on Universal Credit can be paid out immediately and not suffer this inhuman 6-week wait. We want everyone treated with the same courtesy as Lewis Hamilton.
The first event will be to arrange a meeting with Mr. Duncan Smith. Further information to follow.
Contact Linda Taaffe, Secretary, Waltham Forest Trades Council – 07952 283 558