The welfare state is one of the UK’s greatest achievements and supports us all especially vulnerable and unemployed people and their families.
In July the government published the green paper ‘No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility’ announcing plans to change the current provision of support.
Many of the plans were unacceptable when they were first published and the worsening economic situation should lead to a fundamental rethink. However the government is pressing ahead despite the current global economic downturn which is leading to increasing levels of unemployment. As a result we have come together.
The government’s proposals remove entitlements and fail to value the important work of parents and carers. Parents with young children, carers, sick, disabled, people with mental health problems and other vulnerable groups face tougher tests to qualify for benefits. If they fail they could be cut off with no support.
We are opposed to the abolition of Income Support which ends the principle that those in need deserve help. We are opposed to compulsory work for benefits. People should be paid the rate for the job or at the very least be paid the national minimum wage.
Jobseekers Allowance is shockingly low at less than £10 a day, if it had increased in line with earnings over the past 30 years the rate for a single person over the age of 25 would be more than £100 a week.
The government wants more of the welfare state to be handed over to the private sector. It is wrong to profit from the sick and unemployed. There is also the intention to share information with the police which raises real concerns about civil liberties.
We want voluntary skills training and life long learning opportunities for unemployed people. The government should focus on ensuring that there is more support to access jobs that have fair pay and decent conditions with a guarantee that when people cannot seek work they will not face poverty.
The government should introduce positive measures to challenge discriminatory attitudes held by employers, encourage flexible working practices and expand the provision of affordable childcare.
We want the government to rethink its plans. Support our campaign to help create a better welfare state and society.
Mark Serwotka – general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)
Paul Kenny – general secretary of the GMB union
Sally Hunt – general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU)
Jeremy Dear – general secretary of National Union of Journalists (NUJ)
John Corey – general secretary of the Northern Ireland Public Services Alliance
Katie Curtis – national women’s officer, National Union of Students (NUS)
Ama Uzowuru – vice president welfare, National Union of Students (NUS)
Colin Hampton – national unemployed centres combine
Eileen Devaney – national co-ordinator of the UK Coalition Against Poverty
Iman Achara – director of British Black Anti-Poverty Network
Peter Kelly – director of The Poverty Alliance Scotland
Frances Dowds – director of the Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network
Miranda Evans – policy and public affairs manager at Disability Wales
Dr Chris Ford MB ChB MRCP FRC GP – GP in north west London and the clinical director of substance misuse management in General Practice.
Tony Rhodes and Paula Hanson – co-founders of The National Carers Forum
Cheryl Dobbinson, Frances Kelly, Iain MacNeil, Rosemary O’Neill, Paul Tubby and Philippa Wood – Carer Watch
Chris Steel, Jean Milne and Tony Dennis – Carers Voices
Kelly Smith – secretary of the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers
Claudia Rubin – head of policy and communications at Release
Stephen Fisher – chairman of trustees, Repetitive Strain Injury Action
Kim Sparrow – Single Mothers’ Self Defence
Claire Glasman – WinVisible (Women with Visible and Invisible Disabilities)
Niall Cooper – Church Action on Poverty and Get Fair Coalition
Adrian Sinfield – professor emeritus in Social Policy, School of Social and Political Studies, University of Edinburgh
Professor Ruth Lister CBE – professor of Social Policy at Loughborough University
Mark Donne – director of the Fair Pay Network
Steve Donnison and Holiday Whitehead – co-directors of Benefits and Work
Neal Lawson – chair of Compass
Andrew Fisher – co-ordinator of the Left Economics Advisory Panel (ht2 HarpyMarx)