Both main parties blame us for the economic crisis which politicians and bankers have created. The money & support services of older people they resent for living longer, and of disabled people, asylum seekers and single mothers they accuse of being “scroungers”, are being cut to pay for their deadly wars and obscene lifestyle.
“Welfare reform” threatens us with destitution by abolishing Income Support, the main benefit which recognises unwaged caring work. Mothers and other carers are forced into job seeking and, if there are no jobs, to work for our benefits, i.e. £1.60 an hour.
The promised “carers’ exemption” excludes many carers, while “work-focused interviews” remain compulsory. CarerWatch say Carers Allowance, with its 35 care hours minimum p. w., is the model for “work for your benefits”. Traumatised women fleeing domestic violence get only a three-month respite from job seeking.
Asylum seekers, not allowed to work, were first to be made destitute. In 2009, their subsistence was cut to £5 a day. Those in detention are being forced to work for £1.
Campaigning won mums of babies under one not having to attend “work-focused interviews”, and carers of disabled children on DLA from low care rate upwards being excused from “work-related activity”. We can win more, but could lose our entitlements if we allow it. Child Benefit is already under threat in Ireland.
|3 April 2010, Remembrance & Justice for Jennyfer Spencer, a former primary school teacher found dead in her home. After suffering a stroke she became a wheelchair user. Camden Council had stopped her care service. She left a letter blaming them, addressed to the Camden New Journal: “When you read this, I’ll be dead… no human/animal should ever go through life as I did, or endure so much deliberate cruelty...”|
“If I was in waged work I would have to leave suddenly when my daughter was ill – not a lot of jobs let you do that. I’m already working caring for my child but now they are asking me to do paid work on top, which is devastating and exhausting. How would my daughter feel knowing that I was no longer able to be there for her?” SM, carer for disabled child
“Asylum seekers, some who only have
supermarket vouchers, have invisible disabilities, and are very ill and
need to go to hospital but don’t have the money to get there.”
J, All African Women’s Group
“I was a nervous wreck. You don’t know
who you are anymore …. It took me three months to find somewhere to live. No way could
I have got a job ...” Survivor
of domestic violence,
is one of the most demanding and energy-consuming jobs there is. The
relationship between a child and a mother is the root from which all
human interaction springs.”
The DWP transferred me from Income Support to JSA when my youngest became 12. I had no choice. The Council told me my Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit ‘have been suspended . . . as your circumstances have changed.’ They asked me to provide proof of income to re-assess my claim, but I had none – only that I was not entitled to Income Support.” Ms S, single mother
“Life is very stressful. I live on cornmeal, biscuits, sugar, skimmed milk and a little butter and cheap cheese. I am selling any small personal belongings I can, and when I need money for heating I must beg from people.” J, seeking asylum
“They want to bring wages down by forcing more people to chase scarce jobs and allow employers to bypass the minimum wage. Single mothers and pregnant women are being targeted. Christelle Pardo jumped to her death with her baby son in her arms. A single mother, she was cut off JSA and refused Income Support. How many more destitute mothers will be driven to desperate actions?” Kim Sparrow, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence
‘If they cut our benefits you’d find more of us working in more out-of-the-way places. That’s terrifying.’ J, English Collective of Prostitutes
“As a mother on Income Support with an
11-month-old son, I am being forced to attend a compulsory ‘Work Focused
Group Information Session’. If I don’t go I face losing my benefits.”
“When I found the note from the Jobcentre under my door, I felt fear, panic and distress. If the people I thought were there to help worked against me, there was no point in going on.’
X, woman with mental health problems on Employment and Support Allowance
“It’s vital that the government are prevented from committing this social atrocity.” Oliver James, child psychologist, author of Affluenza and Guardian columnist.
“So much for Minister Jim Murphy’s 2006 assurance that for disabled people on ESA, job-seeking or training would stay voluntary. Now we are being forced into unsuitable training, low-paid jobs or begging.” Claire Glasman, WinVisible (women with visible & invisible disabilities)
“Our supporters are using their child benefit to feed their children, to pay for childcare, to pay the ‘voluntary’ contributions to schools, and thousands of other child-related expenses from nappies to school books.” Treasa Dovander, PACUB -- Protest Against Child Unfriendly Budget, Ireland
uncovered is scandalous and is a stark example of what happens when
profits rather than people are put at the heart of the welfare state.”
What we can do:
· Give out this leaflet outside your local Jobcentre.
· Write to the local press saying how your family & community are affected. Are there are any jobs that fit with your caring responsibilities or other circumstances? How do Jobcentre or “back to work” staff treat you? What are the hidden costs of going out to work? What is the care/childcare like? How do you pay for it? How do employers treat you? What do your loved ones think?
· Write to your MP, Ministers and Lords & tell them what is happening.
· Get professionals to raise concerns – health visitors, teachers…
· Defend your entitlement. Single mothers and other claimants can say no. On 13 March mothers marched down Whitehall demanding recognition for all caring work.
Know your rights with all benefits
and their conditions – complain about rules which don’t take account of your
If you want to campaign against these cuts, or are already, we want to meet you. We can help to spread your news. Contact:
Single Mothers’ Self-Defence or WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities) Tel: 020 7482 2496 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Global Women’s Strike email@example.com
Legal Action for Women firstname.lastname@example.org