Socialist Worker

The Troublemaker—Cruel Universal Credit drives poor women into prostitution

Issue No. 2678

Protesting against Universal Credit in Doncaster earlier this year

Protesting against Universal Credit in Doncaster earlier this year (Pic: Neil Terry)


Vulnerable women are being forced into prostitution because of the Tories’ Universal Credit (UC) benefit. It is more evidence of why the nasty benefit must be scrapped now.

An MPs’ committee found that the five-week payment wait for new claimants plus other problems means more women use “survival sex” to get by.

Julie said, “I didn’t go out looking for it, I said no at first. It wasn’t until about three weeks later that I said, ‘Ok, yeah,’ because I need money. It was during the eight weeks that I was waiting to get the Universal Credit. I couldn’t wait eight weeks for money. I just couldn’t.”

Another claimant suffered long waits for her UC payments, and when she did receive them they didn’t cover her basic expenses. She was caught shoplifting food.

“The manager said if I gave him [oral sex] he’d let me off,” she said. “What could I do? It was that or have the police called. I just did it. He said afterwards that if I did the same next week he’d let me have forty quid’s worth of stock. It seemed like a fortune.

“I got my money, and again it was short, and again it was gone on bills before I’d even thought of food.

“So I left the baby with next door and went down to the shop. It’s been like that for months now.”

The committee found evidence “that many of those who turned to survival sex were single mothers, who may also fear losing custody of their children”.

K, who has three children, said she is about to be moved onto UC and will lose £200 a month. “I don’t have any savings,” she said.

“I need to save some money so I am planning to escort or massaging or something similar. The thought of going into debt and having no money is really scary. I have children. I can’t do that.”

The committee said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) initially “displayed little interest” in the reality of claimants’ lives.

“Its initial response was defensive, dismissive and trite.”

Student M, who is working in a brothel, said this was an “attempt to cover the DWP’s back and be like, ‘Oh well, you can’t prove that it is us or that it is Universal Credit’.

“It kind of proved the point that it is poverty and it is this horrible system that is making us be in the sex industry.”


Loan shark runs away from debts

MORE than 5,000 QuickQuid customers face losing payouts after Britain’s biggest payday lender shut.

The Financial Ombudsman Service has 5,500 complaints for mis-sold loans against its parent firm Casheuronet.

But QuickQuid’s US owners Enova are simply leaving after failing to reach agreement over how many customers it should compensate.

The Ombudsman Service said later, “It is unlikely we will be able to progress with complaints about Casheuronet.”

QuickQuid, which closed on Friday, charged 1,300 percent annual interest on short term loans of up to £1,000.

The firm’s collapse comes a year after Wonga and Money Shop shut following a surge in claims and a crackdown on what payday lenders can charge.

With the charm the industry is known for accountant Grant Thornton, acting for Enova, says those with loans should carry on making repayments.


67 dead after protest at Nobel Peace Prize

Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

So it was almost inevitable that, following in the footsteps of previous murderers who received it, last week saw a massacre in Ethiopia.

Some 67 people

were killed in Oromia state during protests against Abiy and state?fuelled fighting between ethnic groups.

Amnesty International said that, since Abiy took office, there have been several waves of mass arrests of people in Oromiya perceived to be

opposed to the government.

Detainees were not charged or taken to court, Amnesty’s Ethiopia researcher Fisseha Tekle said.


Relatives of people who died give evidence

Parents of victims of the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster gave evidence to the retrial of David Duckenfield last week.

Duckenfield denies 95 counts of gross negligence manslaughter relating to the disaster.

Some 96 Liverpool fans died after a crush built up in two pens at the Leppings Lane end of the Sheffield stadium.

Duckenfield cannot be tried in relation to the 96th victim, Tony Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after sustaining his injuries.

Trevor Hicks’ two daughters Sarah and Victoria died as a result of the disaster.

He told the court that he noticed a problem in the central pens but that the police reaction “was one of containment, not assistance”.

Trevor described trying to tell police officers that fans were at risk, and being told to “shut your fucking prattle”.

The jury heard evidence that the capacity of the Leppings Lane end was overestimated.

At the time of the disaster, it was said to safely accommodate 7,200 fans.

Expert engineer John Cutlack said he believed the figure should have been 5,426.

He agreed that correctly calculating the capacity was “fundamental” to crowd safety.

Judge Sir Peter Openshaw told the jury that they should not judge Duckenfield for his apparent lack of emotion. He said that Duckenfield’s “appearance and demeanour” may be due to “post-traumatic stress disorder”.

The trial continues.


Bus funding slashed

Funding for buses in England has dropped by nearly £400 million in a decade. A report last week showed that more than half of local authorities have cut funding by 50 percent or more since 2009.

The Campaign for Better Transport added that over 3,000 bus routes have been axed.

Campaigners say older people and people living in rural areas are hardest hit.


Language mistake for Brexit campaign

The “Get ready for Brexit” campaign went continental last week, with Britain’s Belgian embassy establishing its information point for hauliers.

Adorned with a poster saying “Soyez pret pour le Brexit,” it had only one flaw.

It was set up in Flanders, where the official language is Dutch.


The things they say

‘The name of this beetle is particularly poignant since it is likely that undiscovered species are being lost all the time’

Dr Max Barclay from the the Natural History Museum explains why they called a beetle Nelloptodes gretae after environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg

‘A curse will fall on all of them. They will remember how they defiled this sacred place until they die’

Professor Marcia Langton, of the Australian Indigenous Studies department at Melbourne University as tourists rushed to climb Australia’s indigenous sacred rock Uluru on the final day before a ban came into force

‘We placed each piece of lace in a small bowl, filled with cool water and a tea bag’

Dressmaker to the queen Angela Kelly explains how they made the chiristening gown for the royal offspring the right shade

‘Lock him up!’

Chant by baseball fans in Washington when Donald Trump showed up


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