Nov 162012
 

Joint statement on campaigning against welfare cuts

 Public and Commercial Services union, Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle Campaign

 

PCS, DPAC and Black Triangle Campaign are united in opposing the government’s austerity programme, which seeks to force people to pay for the failure of the finance system and of the government to regulate it.

The government is making unprecedented cuts across the public sector and is removing people’s social, economic and civil rights. The welfare state which was established to provide social security to those unable to work is being systematically dismantled through privatisation and £30 billion of cuts announced to date.

This is not about balancing the books. Over the same period, the government has also given away £30 billion in tax breaks to business. This is an ideological assault on the welfare state.

Disabled people are being disproportionately and brutally affected by these cuts, which include to Employment and Support Allowance, and the Disability Living Allowance, the imposition of the Work Capability Assessment (carried out by Atos) and the proposed abolition of the Independent Living Fund.

It is shameful and immoral that private companies are making profit from disabled and unemployed workers but worse, it does not work, the public sector delivers services more effectively, efficiently and less expensively than the private sector.

The cuts are blighting the lives of the least economically secure in society. The government’s approach cannot work: there are already 2.5 million people unemployed, and over 6 million seeking additional work. Pushing disabled people off benefits – without creating jobs or tackling employer discrimination – is simply a means of cutting disabled people’s living standards.

Evidence shows supportive social security systems that treat people with dignity and respect – rather than punitive systems based on conditionality, sanctions and low benefit levels – help individuals, families and communities but also the wider economy. The social, individual and household consequences of these cuts contravene the right to independent living enshrined in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

To justify this brutal attack on disabled people and those on welfare more generally, the government has engaged in a campaign of vilification to label those on benefits as lazy, as feckless and as scroungers. Much of the news and print media have colluded in this hate campaign – leading to a sharp increase in attacks on disabled workers, including physical assaults. The government’s own figures show benefit fraud accounts for £1.5 billion a year, while £16 billion of benefits and tax credits are left unclaimed.

Tens of thousands of PCS members are involved in the administration of the welfare state and they are committed to providing a service that meets people’s needs. Workers are facing huge cuts in their pay, pensions and rights at work – 40% of those workers who will administer universal credit will also be entitled to it.

PCS members are often on the frontline, facing the anguish and anger of those suffering from government welfare policies. PCS members did not create these policies, the union does not support them and is committed to campaigning against them.

We commit to strengthening our campaigning alliance, which includes peaceful direct action against those politicians who have supported these policies and against those companies that seek to profit from them.

The government is trying to divide people: between those in work and those out of work;, between disabled and non-disabled people, between those in the public sector and those in the private sector. The key to defeating these welfare cuts, and austerity more generally, is unity.

PCS, DPAC, and Black Triangle members have a common cause in defeating these welfare cuts and in building a decent welfare state. We are united.