Successive UK governments’ devastating welfare policies, including cuts in the value of benefits and increases to the pension age were condemned by a PCS motion to TUC Congress today (12).
PCS president Janice Godrich who moved motion 70 highlighted our campaign against the government’s plans to close dozens of jobcentres and support offices damaging services to local communities and in defence of social security.
She said: “Closures are forcing people to travel further for help. It’s no longer enough to say we will defend this social security system – we have to defend the concept of a welfare state as a basic human right. It is an issue for our whole movement.”
She explained that Universal Credit has been a disaster and should be scrapped and there was a need for an urgent debate in the labour movement for an alternative vision on social security.
She also highlighted how our union has campaigned against conditionality and sanctions.
She called on the TUC to look at a Universal Basic Income as an individual right to replace the current benefit system that could ensure everyone could exist in society in dignity and able to fully participate. But she also warned some forms of UBI have also been advocated by right-wing politicians aiming to undermine the welfare state, as has been seen in Finland.
“It is a basic human right to live free from hunger and want and be able to access a real job and a decent income,”she concluded.
We believe that social security for every citizen is a fundamental human right and that central
Thousands at mercy of foodbanks
The motion described how work capability assessments and sanctions are throwing thousands on to the mercy of foodbanks.
The motion condemned cuts built into Universal Credit, including cuts to tax credits and the imposition of the Minimum Income Floor on self-employed workers, as an attack on the poorest workers, families and young people in the UK.
David John from Equity seconded the motion and highlighted the crisis for self-employed workers.
He said that the Minimum Income Floor is “causing the self-employed real harm in this country and should be abolished.”
Nicola Fisher from EIS focused on the third child cap and so-called rape clause.
“I ask you to think about child three in families, full of joy and promise who is now the child that the Tory government says is less worthy and less deserving,” she said.
Our motion, which was passed unanimously, called on the TUC to:
- Demand an end to jobcentre closures, the sanctions regime and work capability assessment, and to argue for increases in the value of benefits, and for more resources.
- Work with campaigning organisations to launch a campaign for a welfare system that meets the needs of our communities and includes the principles of ‘social insurance’ and social security as a right.
- Examine Universal Basic Income policy options, including adequate levels and funding, drawing on the expertise and knowledge of workers in the field of social security.