Universal Credit rolls out here in Stockport this week. People making new benefit claims will have to claim Universal Credit from this Wednesday.
This will be a disaster. The whole benefits scene already is.
Readers of this site will know that I’ve been interviewing Universal Credit and other benefit claimants at Stockport jobcentre for much of this year. Stockport United Against Austerity holds regular demonstrations outside the jobcentre, which I join. I interview people who sign on at the jobcentre as they come and go.
Stories of sanctions (sometimes one following straight after another and lasting for months) are already all too common among people who use that jobcentre.
People already talk about delays to the start of benefit claims and problems accessing much-needed assistance. I’ve talked with people who’ve been years out of work and can’t get basic help to secure voluntary jobs. Some already claim Universal Credit. Some claim JSA or ESA.
Stockport jobcentre is the only jobcentre in the borough. You’re dreaming if you think that the jobcentre has the staff or resources to manage a tide of complex Universal Credit claims.
Funds for people in poverty are being targeted for cuts even as Universal Credit rolls out
There’ll be a great deal of local attention on Universal Credit in Stockport in the coming months.
Stockport United Against Austerity is campaigning to stop and scrap Universal Credit.
Last week, the Stockport council cabinet agreed to a SUAA demand for full council to vote to call for a halt to the Universal Credit rollout. Council votes on that motion at next week’s full council meeting.
The council needs to do a great deal more than that.
It is not. Quite the reverse.
As we speak, Stockport council is preparing to plunge the borough’s poorest citizens into further hardship.
The council is consulting on plans to close its local welfare assistance fund – the all-important stopgap fund for people who are in extreme financial difficulties and who can’t afford food or basic household items.
This is an extraordinary step to take at exactly the time when Universal Credit is rolled out locally with its built-in debt problems and inevitable setting up of people for serious rent arrears.
Protest this Wednesday
Wednesday 21 November 2018
Regular demonstrations and interviewing will continue outside the jobcentre in the coming months.