Workers sacked due to coronavirus denied benefits by Universal Credit chaos – Fight Back!
Newly sacked workers are experiencing a kick in the face as they try to claim benefits through the chaotic Universal Credit system. New claimants told the TV news on 25 March they were on the phone for hours without getting any reply.
Universal Credit’s “online by default” system has broken down. Even the government admit on their Coronavirus and Claiming Benefits page “Universal Credit users are experiencing extended waiting times for gov.uk Verify“, but claimants reported that in reality the online ID verification system just does not work. Many then believed they were unable to make a claim. In fact the excellent Frank Zola blog has revealed that you can still claim Universal Credit without needing to use GOV.UK Verify to confirm your identity/address history.
Tens of thousands desperately needing support are being left with nothing.
As groups like ECAP have long argued the Universal Credit system is deliberately designed to deter claims. In “normal” times it can take hours to get a phone response. The 5 – 6 week for payment is inhuman. Sanctions are a constant threat. We need to organise; a starting point being to insist the £20 per week increase in Universal Credit be made permanent, but then to aim to stop and scrap Universal Credit.
CLAIM TO THE SCOTTISH WELFARE FUND
Claimants in Scotland needing immediate support should also apply to the Scottish Welfare Fund via their local Council. The Scottish Government has more than doubled the funds for the SWF and widened the eligibility to support people hit by coronavirus lay-offs. Edinburgh Council state “If you are no longer able to work or have had hours reduced, and do not have any savings or other sources of income, we may be able to help.”
So councils SHOULD be making more payments. In Edinburgh apply to the Scottish Welfare Fund by ringing 0131 529 5299 or online. You can apply for a crisis grant or a community care grant plus get a foodbank referral. If knocked back contact ECAP firstname.lastname@example.org for support and solidarity. And hassle your local councillors.
ACT NOW TO WIN RE-INSTATEMENT
Of course while a payment from the Scottish Welfare Fund is an immediate help, in the longer run it is totally inadequate, we need to fight for much more. As Better than Zero say: “ACT NOW – All workers who’ve been fired should get in touch with ex-colleagues and together contact ex-bosses to urgently demand reinstatement and 80% of salary that the government has said you are due.” See this excellent poster at the end of this page.
SAVE LIVES – SHUT DOWN NON-ESSENTIAL WORK
To save lives we need to organise to force non-essential work to shut down. Reel News say “Workers in Britain have already been successfully taking or threatening action over coronavirus, from stopping dismissals, through demanding improved hygiene and protective equipment, to winning full sick pay so that workers can afford to self-isolate.”
“In some countries workers have already gone further – striking to force irresponsible employers to shut down non-essential workplaces. More collective action will be needed as government and many employers fail to adequately protect us all.”
Join this virtual meeting to discuss workplace collective action to slow coronavirus on Thursday 26 March 8 – 9.30 pm