16_march_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,030

Monday 16 March 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Universal Credit.

Who came up with that bright idea? I am guessing the secretary of state for work and pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, might wish to take the credit but frankly I don’t think he’s got the brains for it. I suspect it was probably your Nudge Unit or some Think Tank that hatched the idea to sell out ordinary people.

Of course we all know what credit is now, it’s debt, and, as we are seeing, debt is hounding the lives of those subjected to the violence of your welfare reforms. But Universal Credit is a spectacular and devious misnomer because social security is paid in advance by the nation for the nation, there’s no credit involved. I know that you like to pretend that our taxes in some maleficent way belong to government, but they don’t, they are entrusted to the care of government management to benefit the nation.

Everything about Universal Credit is punitive not least that it is entirely predicated on one word – ‘Work’ – regardless of individual needs and circumstances. Like your treatment of our NHS such a radical change in social security or welfare should have been the subject of a referendum, but, as with all your social policies, what ordinary people think is of no concern to you. Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do… or die.

Research by Oxford University shows that between June 2011 and March 2014, more than 1.9m sanctions were imposed on people receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) although people on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are increasingly being targeted with a rise of 334% between December 2012 and December 2013.

Iain Duncan Smith is at great pains to maintain the fiction that there are no sanctions targets and that they are only used as a last resort. As a man who repeatedly misuses statistics and has been officially rebuked for doing so, his word has less credibility than a fisherman’s tale on the one that got away and is a damned sight less entertaining.

It comes down to this, Universal Credit is a lie and, indeed, a massive fraud being perpetrated against the those whose lives are the most fragile and most vulnerable to financial insecurity. In work or out of work, your government pogrom of welfare reform is driving increasing numbers into poverty including millions of children. People, children and adults alike, need security, encouragement and support in order to flourish in whatever way they are able, not beaten into the ground through heartless brutality. Poor and vulnerable people will not recover until the only Tory left is hisTory.