A day of action against the DWP has put a spotlight on our broken social security system

Day of Action Image, Therese Coffey and the DWP logo
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Campaigners have thrust the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) into the spotlight again. Because on Saturday 6 February, Universal Credit was the subject of a day of online action.

DWP and the Treasury: at war

In April 2020, the DWP increased the rate of Universal Credit by around £20 a week. But ever since then, uncertainty has existed over what will happen this April. Since the Tories are ending this increase, people will see a £20 per week cut to their payments.

Chaos has ensued in government. At first, Sunak talked about giving Universal Credit claimants a one-off, £500 payment. Then, he was allegedly thinking about making this £1,000. But the DWP boss Thérèse Coffey ‘slapped down‘ Sunak’s idea. She said it was not her department’s “preferred approach”, but without saying what the DWP’s answer would be.

So the Tories are leaving claimants anxious and waiting. And several campaign groups have decided to voice their concerns via social media.

#20More4All

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Homes For All, and People Before Profit are grassroots campaign groups. They set up an online day of action on 6 February. The groups asked people to use #20More4All and #NoCutsToBenefits to post on social media why the government needs to sort this. And so, people did:

Other groups got involved:

As did some MPs:

People also took the campaign into the real world. There were socially distanced demos up and down the UK. And the day of action showed other problems with our social security system too.

Systemic problems

#20More4All highlighted people who claim other social security. Because for around 1.5 million claimants of things like Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the government hasn’t given any extra support at all during the pandemic. And the day of action also made a broader point. It’s that the social security system is not fit for purpose anyway.

Universal Credit was plagued by problems before coronavirus (Covid-19) hit. This led UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty Philip Alston to call it “Universal Discredit”. Things like the five-week wait for a first payment haven’t gone away because of coronavirus. In fact, some of the problems have become more widespread. For example, a study by the University of York found that:

Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of those who claimed for Universal Credit (UC) between March and June [2020] are living on less than they are assessed to need due to deductions. …

Almost all of the deductions include repayments of an advance loan that claimants can take out while they wait five weeks before receiving their first payment.

Little has changed

On Sunday 7 February, the Observer reported that:

More than three in 10 people who began claiming universal credit after the start of the pandemic last year have acquired new debts, or seen their existing debts grow

Little has changed since early 2018, when DPAC said the government must ‘scrap’ Universal Credit. The major difference now is millions more people claim it. In the short term, the Tories need to fix the immediate problem of the £20 uplift. And in the long term, the whole social security system needs razing and redesigning.

Featured image via DPAC, Sky News – YouTube and Wikimedia 

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  • Show Comments
    1. A day of action against the DWP has put a spotlight on our,
      broken social security system
      //
      Now voter plus residents on Benefits
      Some truths we must not forget here about this article.
      On SCAM -U-Credit benefit payments.

      1—The U-Credit was designed by a group of rich Torty party M.P.
      2—It was designed to remove the means tested part of Benefit by Tory M.P.-plus rich bankers.(A cut in the benefit price paid out to claimant)
      3—It is failing now because of the means tested part of benefits has been removed that aided all claimer with different needs to be kept out of poverty U-Credit does not do this it make poverty now with people on the U-Credit benefits SCAM.
      4—So we free voter believe the U-Credit Tory Scam benefit made up by rich already Tory party members including Bankers should be stopped full stop! People are dying OFF on this benefits Tory Scam now every day.
      ///
      To all the people that have been forced onto the Tory Scam -U-Credit benefit that where well paid before losing their jobs because of L-Down rules placed on us all.
      Please just answer the Questions BELOW new claimant of U-Credit now by NO fault of their own but Tory Govt miss handling of Virus L-Down rules and forcing business to be closed down,(forever)
      //
      Question I wish answered by all claimants now please.
      Q—Are you paid well on U-Credit benefits yes or no?
      Q—Are you keeping out of poverty yes or no?
      Q—Are you still living in the lifestyle you had before L-Down rules on
      Us all? like is your Rent paid up –food on table—Holiday booked –all
      your energy bills paid yes or no?–Are you in danger of losing your homes on U-Credit by no mortgage help form D.W.P. Dept. yes or no?
      Q—IS your home safe under the U-Credit payment yes or no?
      Is the U-Credit payment you get from Tory D.W.P. Dept covering all
      your family needs while out of work yes or no?
      FINALLY!
      To all people that may lose their home in time because of Tory SCASM U-Credit not being fit for purpose as a benefit help in this modern-day time It dose not STOP poverty it, AIDS poverty FULL STOP resident + Voters. and all Tory party members in LONDOIN Know this latter part of this post Is true at time of typing it today 8.2.2021. Boris.

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