UNION activists staged events across Britain today in a day of action against the government’s Universal Credit benefit system creating a “hostile environment.”
Unite Community members were in action in 65 towns and cities raising public awareness of how the system is plunging hundreds of thousands of people into poverty and misery.
Unite Community is a section of the Unite union for those people not in paid employment, including retired people, carers, students and jobless workers.
Universal Credit replaces six different benefits, and involves assessments by private companies who notoriously can, and do, impose “sanctions” on claimants by withdrawing payment.
In areas where Universal Credit has been imposed amid a national rollout, foodbanks have seen a 50 per cent increase in use.
Liane Groves, Head of Unite Community said: “Universal Credit is creating a hostile environment for people who claim it and is not fit for purpose and should be stopped.
“Despite knowing that Universal Credit causes serious problems for those claiming it, the government is ploughing ahead regardless while claimants are descending further into debt, relying on foodbanks and getting into rent arrears and in many cases are being evicted from their homes.”
Among yesterday’s actions was a protest in Old Palace Yard outside Parliament, followed by a march on the government’s Department for Work and Pensions offices.
In Yorkshire and north-east England, union organiser John Coan said: “Our welfare rights activists in the north-east have seen an increase in poverty, debt and homelessness amongst the people we support as a result of this calamitous system.”
Peter Lazenby is the Morning Star’s Northern Reporter.
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