The Tories must #CancelTheCut to Universal Credit – Steve Turner, Unite

“The grim reality is that work doesn’t pay in this country and our benefits system has been destroyed.”

By Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary.

This week Unite’s community members were out in force campaigning to stop the £20 Universal Credit snatch-back the government plans for September.

Rishi Sunak’s determination to force ahead with this cut is the news that struggling families were dreading.  It will bring despair and further hardship to the vulnerable.

Economists, think tanks, children’s charities and even former Tory ministers – including the architect of Universal Credit, Iain Duncan Smith – all pleaded with the government not to impose the cut.

But pleas for compassion and common sense fell on deaf ears.

Such is this government’s ideological loathing of social security, they’d rather money be sucked out of our high streets and food bank queues lengthen than do the right thing.

That’s why Unite Community is determined that the fight goes on. 

Inflation has jumped to 2.5 per cent, the highest rate in three years.  Higher food costs have helped to fuel the rise but the timing couldn’t be worse for those on Universal Credit facing the loss of more than £80 a month from their incomes.

From Bristol to Slough to Brighton, at our day of action street stalls, time and again we heard that the £20 is a lifeline. 

That’s why I am furious at Tory MP Andrew Rosindell, the fella who spent nearly £300 of our money on a new telly for his office yet claims that the £20 is not actually needed by the millions living on the breadline.

I invite Mr Rosindell to join us on our next day of action so that he can share his views with claimants who told us that without that £20 they will be robbing Peter to pay Paul. They may be able to pay a bill but they won’t be able to buy food without going into debt.  No fancy tv for them, just the chance to buy their child a pair of shoes.

Or to the self-employed man, not entitled to sick pay, who said the £20 a week repays debts racked up when he was struck down with coronavirus.

For hundreds of thousands of people, the coronavirus crisis brought them into contact with the benefits system for the first time.  They’ve only ever known Universal Credit at this level and have no idea how they will cope when it is £20 less.  People are living in abject terror.

The grim reality is that work doesn’t pay in this country and our benefits system has been destroyed. 

So forgive me if Unite will not be taking sermons on the mysteries of inequalities from this prime minister.  He has sanctioned the grab-back of £20 per week from millions of the lowest paid in the land.  When poverty increases, as it will, this is on him.

Unite’s fight to #CancelTheCut continues.


Unite Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner takes part in the #DemandANewNormal demonstration hosted by the Peoples’ Assembly Against Austerity.

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