Harrogate Socialist Party organised a protest today, Tuesday 1st October, against the planned roll-out of Universal Credit in the area.
Universal Credit, which combines a range of benefits into a single payment, was originally scheduled to have been implemented in Harrogate from October. However, repeated delays which has seen £34m wasted on failed IT programmes, has meant that it will not be introduced in Harrogate until next year at the earliest.
Harrogate Socialist Party protested outside Jobcentre Plus in the town, highlighting this Government’s ideological attack on the welfare state and their attempts to scapegoat the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society. George Osborne continues to demonise the unemployed, peddling the myth that people are better off on benefits. However, Osborne is happy to use taxpayer’s money to defend bankers’ bonuses at the European Court of Justice and does nothing while the scroungers in big business dodge an estimated £120 billion in tax every year.
Many unemployed people, along with local workers and passers-by visited our stall. They spoke of their anger at the attacks on benefit claimants by the Con-Dems and New Labour. One unemployed father of two, who was signing on with his eldest son, said that “Our grandparents fought for the welfare state. All that they fought for is now being destroyed.” G4s, who provide the security for Jobcentre Plus, panicked at the protest and called the police to complain about the “harassment of passers-by”!
Without a political alternative to austerity, the scapegoating of the unemployed and benefit claimants by all the establishment parties will continue. TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) candidates will be standing in Harrogate and across the region in next year’s local elections to defend the welfare state and fight against the privatisation of jobs and services.