Socialist Worker

Activists meet to organise unity for benefits justice against Tory attacks on welfare

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2407

Campaigners debated how to organise against the Tories attacks

Campaigners debated how to organise against the Tories' attacks (Pic: Mark Krantz)


Campaigners from across Britain met in Manchester last Saturday to organise against Tory attacks on benefits. More than 80 people attended the national meeting of the Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation.

They represented many local groups as well as several national campaigns and the PCS union’s group for Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) workers.

Thousands have protested against the bedroom tax and held hundreds of local meetings. They have had a huge impact, moving the Labour Party and the Scottish and Welsh governments to come out against the tax and lifting more tenants out of it.

Eileen Short from Defend Council Housing (DCH) said, “We have come a long way in winning the argument and that is putting pressure on politicians.” But she warned, “The bedroom tax has created an atmosphere of fear and shame, and that’s all the more reason for us to keep fighting.”

Almost 1 million unemployed people were left with no income at all for weeks or months at a time last year by benefit sanctions. Minister Iain Duncan Smith’s plans for Universal Credit would extend this regime to include people who are in work.

Unpick

Dave Owens, a leading DWP worker in PCS, accused the government of “trying to unpick the whole social security system”.

“It’s not just an attack on claimants but on the entire working class,” he said. “They want to use the benefits system to frighten and discipline the workforce”.

Campaigners were determined not to allow the government to divide claimants and job centre staff.

Axe The Tax in Huddersfield run stalls outside the job centre with the banner “No sanctions for claimants, no targets for workers”. Southwark Benefit Justice in south London produced a joint leaflet with PCS on how to avoid sanctions.

A day of protests against sanctions at major DWP centres was called on Thursday 11 September.

Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) has also called a day of action on Friday 4 July against the closure of the Independent Living Fund.

And communities secretary Eric Pickles is set to face protests when he defends the bedroom tax at the landlords’ Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Manchester on Thursday 26 June.

The vile Tory has also pushed through billions of pounds of cuts to local authorities.


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