Edinburgh Claimants Solidarity
The ever-delivering Variant has a new issue out, with loads of great stuff, including Tom Jennings on “war as the health of the State” and John Barker on “KPMG and the Accountancy Oligopoly”. Best of all is the full interview with some of the people behind Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP) and the Edinburgh Claimants’ Group who have for years been fighting alongside the poorest and most marginalised in society those long left behind by the “Labour and Trade Union Movement” and the traditional left. The history of this struggle that goes beyond a workerist leftism is essential:
“The James Purnell’s 2008 Welfare Reform White Paper is the latest in a series of punitive welfare reform policies which go back at least as far as the infamous Youth Opportunities Programme of the late 1970s. Each ‘reform’, a word now inextricably linked to privatisation, has tended both to immiserate the claimant, and, in the language of Purnell, “deepen” and “widen” the obligation to work. The key area of restructuring the resultingWelfare Reform Bill 2008-09 intends is the abolition of Income Support and the movement of all claimants to either Jobseekers’ Allowance or Employment or Support Allowance. For the first time all benefits will be madeconditional, marking the removal of the universal right to benefit based on need alone. Indeed, the Social Security Advisory Committee have called these reforms: “a major departure from the principles … that have underpinned UK social protection for almost 60 years”.
In opposition to these continued attacks on the poor, there have been some challenging community responses to the proposals. In a collaborative riposte underpinned by research from Chik Collins and funded by Oxfam, the Clydebank Independent Resource Centre, state that: “No one apart from a desperate and despairing coalition of poverty groups and trade unions seem to much care that this curiously scanty bill gives the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions sweeping and vaguely defined powers to remove benefits from anyone who does not or cannot comply with a raft of ‘work preparation’ activities.” Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and Edinburgh Claimants are among those groups that are only too well aware of the implications of this legislation. They were set up by people who are unemployed, too sick to work, or on low incomes in order to provide “advice and solidarity” on benefits hassles and debt woes. Variant interviewed these groups in Spring 2009 because building and strengthening coalitions between people in low paid work and people on benefits is surely more urgent than ever.”
Read the full interview here, Vagabonds, criminals, paupers & gangrels? Interview with Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty & Edinburgh Claimants