Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) bosses were hopefully watching Strictly on Saturday 22 September. Because if they were on Twitter instead, they would have got an unpleasant surprise.
The DWP: no rest for the literally wicked
After three previous Twitterstorms highlighting the impact of DWP policies, there was another on Saturday. People used #ScrapUniversalCredit, #StopAndScrap, and #StopAndScrapUniversalCredit to draw attention to Universal Credit, the DWP’s controversial new benefit:
— WOWcampaign (@WOWpetition) September 22, 2018
In #Preston @SAPrestonUK runs a foodbank on Harrington Street & gave away 798 bags of food in August – up from 675 bags in July. In August, the foodbank had 165 referrals, up from 122 in July. UC rollout not yet fully complete. #ScrapUniversalCredit #Lab18 @MpHendrick pic.twitter.com/afybNKUiTu
— Nathan James (@iamnathanme) September 22, 2018
But people also used the Twitterstorm to lobby the Labour Party. This is because they want it to follow the lead of some campaign groups and trade unions and commit to scrapping Universal Credit. Currently, there may be a chance Labour will vote to do this at its conference.
So people used the Twitterstorm to tell Labour why its current stance of ‘pause and fix’ isn’t good enough:
— Rick B (@TenPercent) September 22, 2018
I'm amazed we even need to ask but ok: pls @UKLabour pass a motion at #Lab18 #LabourConference to stop + scrap Universal Credit if/when you get elected. #ScrapUniversalCredit and investigate the Tory death toll, let's get the true no.s of DWP deaths, destitution + homelesseness.
— Babs (@BabsSheKing) September 22, 2018
— Bolshie Bear (@BolshieBear) September 23, 2018
The Canary asked five prominent writers, campaigners and claimants to give their message to Labour.
The very real human cost of Universal Credit
The campaigner I was a JSA claimant has been at the forefront of welfare rights for several years. He told The Canary:
Many people cite the cost of implementing Universal Credit as a reason to keep it. But the human cost has already shown itself to be much worse.
That is why we are calling for Labour to support #ScrapUniversalCredit. No other benefit has caused so much damage.
Writer and campaigner Charlotte Hughes documents people’s experiences of the DWP via her website The Poor Side of Life. She told The Canary:
Universal Credit needs to be stopped and scrapped because its unfixable. Suffering is inherent to its design; it causes untold misery and countless deaths.
It is the dismantling of our welfare state and we cannot allow this to happen. So we need Labour delegates to vote to stop and scrap – there’s no other option.
The campaign group BENEFITS NEWS, which is a vocal welfare rights voice, told The Canary:
It is critical Labour pledges to scrap Universal Credit. It can’t be fixed because the legislation already reached Royal Assent and is in situ.
Labour can’t ignore the urgency of the matter. Scrap it now – the ‘managed migration’ must NOT go ahead!
Paula Peters is one of the most prominent disability rights activists in the UK. She told The Canary:
Universal Credit is causing serious harm and distress. The DWP have admitted that claimants have died whilst claiming Universal Credit.
It needs to be stopped and scrapped. Labour now need to listen to us and act.
Also, Alex Tiffin, the writer behind the website Universal Credit Sufferer, told The Canary:
If Labour truly want to be for the many they must commit to looking after them. There’s so much evidence that Universal Credit is flawed by design – scrapping it is the only option.
Failure to listen to the now clear consensus could mean losing loyal voters. The long term social gains far outweigh the short term cost.
Stop and scrap
So, people will have to wait to see if Labour moves on Universal Credit. But regardless of what it does, claimants’ and campaigners’ strength will ensure the DWP doesn’t get any peace; not even on a Saturday night.
– Support the blogs Universal Credit Sufferer and The Poor Side of Life. Also, follow I was a JSA claimant, BENEFITS NEWS and Paula Peters on Twitter. Get involved with Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), fighting for disabled people’s rights.