Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Ashton-under-Lyne: Universal Credit

YESTERDAY saw a small demonstration at mid-day outside Ashton-under-Lyne Town Hall in Tameside, called by the PCS union against a pilot scheme which was just introduced to test the consequences of the Government's proposed new Universal credit to try to simplify a range of benefits into a single benefit:  the proposal is to combine JSA, ESA, IS, Housing Benefit and tax credits.  It is estimated that 8 million households will get this universal credit (UC).  Optimistically, the Government hopes this scheme will be implemented during the four years from 2013 to 2017.

The demo yesterday was sup[ported by Alec McFadden, the TUC-JCC representative for the North West and manager of Salford Unemployed Centre, supporters of Salford Against the Cuts, and delegates from Tameside Trade Council.  John Pearson and other members of the PCS union, Alec McFadden and Barry Woodling (Salford Against the Cuts and the Northern Anarchist Network[NAN]) addressed the gathering.

There are fears that this new benefit will lead to less benefits for claimants and to administrative problems within the benefit system.  Even the Government seems nervous as witnessed by the introduction of this small and cautious pilot in Ashton which only applies to a few postcodes in the tameside area.  Later some of the demonstrators led by delegates from Tameside TUC went to leaflet outside the local Job Centre, where many of the media had congregated.  There the press officer for the Dept. of Work & Pensions [DWP]/ Job Centre told Barry Woodling that the scheme was operating well so far.  Some leafleters were distributing a flyer criticising the 'Bedroom Tax'.

Ashton-under-Lyne and Tameside is an interesting as in the 1990s it was one of the areas that was foremost in challenging the Job Seeker's Allowance.

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