Saturday, 13 December 2008

Welfare for All!

THE LEADERSHIPS of several unions last week joined forces to call for support for a joint statement to oppose the Government’s attacks on welfare benefits and to demand welfare for all. The statement said: “The welfare state is one of the UK’s greatest achievements and supports us all especially vulnerable and unemployed people and their families.
“In July the government published the Green Paper No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility announcing plans to change the current provision of support.
“Many of the plans were unacceptable when they were first published and the worsening economic situation should lead to a fundamental rethink.
“However the Government is pressing ahead despite the current global economic downturn which is leading to increasing levels of unemployment. As a result we have come together.
“The Government’s proposals remove entitlements and fail to value the important work of parents and carers. Parents with young children, carers, sick, disabled, people with mental health problems and other vulnerable groups face tougher tests to qualify for benefits. If they fail they could be cut off with no support.
“We are opposed to the abolition of Income Support which ends the principle that those in need deserve help. We are opposed to compulsory work for benefits. People should be paid the rate for the job or at the very least be paid the national minimum wage.
“Jobseekers Allowance is shockingly low at less than £10 a day, if it had increased in line with earnings over the past 30 years the rate for a single person over the age of 25 would be more than £100 a week.
“The Government wants more of the welfare state to be handed over to the private sector. It is wrong to profit from the sick and unemployed. There is also the intention to share information with the police which raises real concerns about civil liberties.
“We want voluntary skills training and life long learning opportunities for unemployed people. The Government should focus on ensuring that there is more support to access jobs that have fair pay and decent conditions with a guarantee that when people cannot seek work they will not face poverty.
“The Government should introduce positive measures to challenge discriminatory attitudes held by employers, encourage flexible working practices and expand the provision of affordable childcare.
“We want the Government to rethink its plans. Support our campaign to help create a better welfare state and society.” It was signed by: Mark Serwotka - general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS); Paul Kenny – general secretary of the GMB union; Sally Hunt – general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU); Jeremy Dear – general secretary of National Union of Journalists (NUJ); John Corey – general secretary of the Northern Ireland Public Services Alliance; Katie Curtis – national women’s officer, National Union of Students (NUS); Ama Uzowuru – vice president welfare, National Union of Students (NUS); Colin Hampton – national unemployed centres combine; Eileen Devaney – national co-ordinator of the UK Coalition Against Poverty; Iman Achara – director of British Black Anti-Poverty Network; Peter Kelly – director of The Poverty Alliance Scotland; Frances Dowds – director of the Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network Miranda Evans – policy and public affairs manager at Disability Wales – and many others.