From The Socialist
THE NEW government work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, plans the biggest attack on the rights of the most vulnerable people in society in a generation. His plans are presented as an attempt "to improve the quality of life for the worst off in society" but resemble more the 1834 poor law when paupers were forced into the gruelling regime of the workhouse!
While this former Tory leader pointed out that many on the dole receive more in benefits than they would earn from a low paid job, his plans will actually attack the claimants rather than his big business mates who are looking for cheap labour.
Labour's previous cheap labour job creation schemes - 'future jobs scheme' and 'flexible new deal' - will be scrapped in favour of a 'community task force' in which unemployed people will be forced to work for voluntary organisations for their dole money. The scheme is likely to be used to drive down the wages, terms and conditions of people who are presently employed.
Many workers fear that the government will try to use claimants as a scab labour force to do the jobs of workers in the course of expected trade union battles over public sector cuts.
The disabled and ill are also in for huge assaults on their living standards under the new plans. People in need of incapacity allowance already find it difficult to claim any benefits under the present strict Work Capability Assessment. Now, all existing receivers of the incapacity allowance will be forced to endure this draconian assessment.
IDS says his only goal is to tackle poverty and help the worst off in society. But rather than eliminating poverty these measures will allow the government to massage the statistics. The choice facing people on benefits will now be poverty on the dole or poverty at work.
To fight these attacks we need to build a mass movement of trade unionists, the unemployed and community campaigners. We need to put forward a clear socialist alternative to the diet of cuts proposed by the politicians and their big business pay masters.