The following motion was passed by our Branch Committee on 28th November 2018.
Universal Credits – Stop and Scrap
Salford City UNISON notes the following:
That Universal Credit, UC, was designed as an integral part of the Welfare Reform Act brought in by the Coalition Government following their election in 2010.
That underpinning the Act has been an ideological drive to making being on Welfare Benefits as degrading and punishing as possible with the intention of forcing as many claimants off benefits as possible.
Welfare Reform including the introduction of UC was accompanied with the rhetoric of benefit dependency, skivers and strivers, cheats and malingerers as a way of winning public support for pushing through the biggest changes in welfare since the 1930’s.
UC is just one part of these reforms which include the discredited and hated Work Capability Assessments, the change from DLA to PIP with a 20% budget reduction target and cuts to the Access to Work programme.
These changes are interconnected and form the core of the Tories making work pay programme.
This Branch notes the continued roll-out of the disastrous Universal Credit system and that this impacts on non-working claimants of legacy welfare benefits to whom we deliver services but also claimants of Universal Credit, many of whom are Community and Voluntary Sector UNISON members.
Axe the Housing Act, other Housing campaigns and Disabled People Against Cuts, DPAC, called for a National joint Campaign to Stop and Scrap UC.
Salford City UNISON believes:
The plethora of research carried out by organisations such as the Child Poverty Action Group, a range of universities and think tanks throughout the period that Universal Credit has been rolled out, underpins everything that UNISON members already know through experience: that Universal Credit is a punitive, ideologically-driven ‘reform’ which leaves claimants, workers and UNISON members financially disadvantaged.
This Branch further notes that the employment of new-starters who are already claimants of Universal Credit can cause serious hardship to the claimant/employee as income is assessed each month on a strictly cash in/out basis, so any pay received during the assessment period affects that month’s award regardless of when the work it relates to took place. This includes back pay, holiday pay and advances from employers. Employees usually have their earnings assessed using HMRC’s real-time information system, reported directly to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and income is recorded as received on the date on which it is reported through this system, regardless of the period to which it relates.
Along with the conditionality attached to claims (such as the requirement to seek additional working hours), even for those who are employed, these issues can place undue pressure on workers, undermining their welfare, general well-being and sense of job security.
Additionally, the roll out of welfare reform is having serious knock-on effects for the many charitable organisations employing UNISON members providing services to the most vulnerable in society and which rely on the provision of housing benefit.
That as with the Work Capability Assessments an entirely new scheme needs to be created making sure that Disabled Peoples Organisations and other groups affected are included at the heart of how these schemes are designed.
We believe that Universal Credit cannot be fixed and must be scrapped.
Salford City UNISON agrees:
To adopt a position of Stop and Scrap Universal Credit.
To support the national Stop and Scrap campaign called by DPAC, Mental Health Resistance Network, Housing campaigns and others.
To support the TUC’s call for the rollout to be halted now and for UC to be stopped and scrapped before it does anymore damage to some of the lowest paid workers in the UK.
To publicise the campaign and promote it to our members urging them to support the campaign.
To lobby the Labour Party and other organisations who currently have a Pause and Fix approach to UC and urge them to adopt and work with the Stop and Scrap campaign.
To call on Salford City Council and Salford Housing Associations not to evict tenants in rent arrears due to Universal Credit.