Protesters gathered outside job centres across Britain on Thursday of last week to speak out against benefit sanctions.
In Barnsley, South Yorkshire, Chris told Socialist Worker his benefits were cut off for a month after he went to hospital for an emergency operation.
He said, “We have been to the food bank this morning because we have no other way of feeding ourselves. We can’t afford the bus fares home so we have a three mile walk to face.”
Many protesters were furious with Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves.
She said days earlier that, “We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work.”
Outside the Department for Work and Pensions in London, protester Geraldine said that Reeves’ comments were “irresponsible” and that “people on benefits are part of the working class”.
She lost nearly a stone in weight and has been on the verge of kidney failure when she was sanctioned for three months. “I don’t think the poor are able to live very well and I think more are going to die,” she told Socialist Worker.
In Barnsley, Martin has been sent on a “workfare” placement after struggling to find work since having a heart attack at 56.
He said, "They treat me as if I am workshy. And now Rachel Reeves tells me that Labour doesn’t represent people like me.
"She is right in a way—Labour doesn’t represent the interests of any working class person.”
Dave Gibson, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate for Barnsley Central, told the crowd, “As we’ve marched through town we’ve chanted ‘Tax the rich—not punish the poor.’
"That sums up what’s wrong with Tory Britain. They are stealing from the poor to make the rich even richer.
“And when Rachel Reeves said this week that Labour are not the party of people on benefits she too is siding with the rich against the poor. That is why we need a socialist alternative.”