Benefits withdrawn to punish low-waged workers for striking

Iain Duncan Smith breaks strikes and tortures kittens

The "right to strike" in the UK comes under further attack today, as Iain Duncan Smith announces plans to withdraw Working Tax Credit for workers who take strike action.

The new Universal Credit model of benefit payments, part of a massive overhaul of the welfare state which is systematically attacking the living standards of the most vulnerable sections of the working class, includes plans to restrict payments to those who take industrial action.

Presently, workers who earn under £13,000 are able to claim Working Tax Credit (WTC) to top up their wages, workers can claim WTC against the first 10 days of strike action. As if the decision to take strike action wasn't already difficult enough, Duncan Smith's plans will further discourage workers from taking industrial action.

Duncan Smith has been quoted as saying that "the right to strike is a choice, and in future benefit claimants will have to pay the price for that choice, as under universal credit, we no longer will."

Of course, this announcement could help fuel the backlash already in full swing against both benefit claimants and striking workers, compounding the negative stereotypes already presented over again in the mainstream media.

More info here and here.

Posted By

Ramona
Jun 17 2012 21:39

Share

Attached files

Comments

Steven.
Jun 17 2012 22:09

Yeah, this sucks. Although I do wonder how the government knows when people are striking. Anyone know what the process would be?

Ramona
Jun 17 2012 22:14

The BBC article says something about new laws that allow customs and revenue to identify people engaged in strike action - could it be passed on by employers? Like, if people's pay is getting docked, the employer knows it's because of strike action, presumably?

fingers malone
Jun 17 2012 22:20

The deduction comes up on your pay slip, although I don't know if it says the deduction is specifically for striking, and you have to show your payslips when you claim benefits.

I guess they could put an extra line in the declaration you sign saying that you have to declare if you were on strike, and then if you don't declare and they find out, you've made a false declaration.

They did something similar to this during the miners strike, deductions were made from payments that were for miners' kids, not themselves. There is a pamphlet about it called "let them eat coal".

Caiman del Barrio
Jun 18 2012 00:23
fingers malone wrote:
I guess they could put an extra line in the declaration you sign saying that you have to declare if you were on strike, and then if you don't declare and they find out, you've made a false declaration.

they already ask that when you sign on for JSA, giving me the impression that you couldn't sign on while involved in industrial action (although I dunno if this is true, maybe someone else can confirm).

communal_pie
Jun 18 2012 07:16
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
fingers malone wrote:
I guess they could put an extra line in the declaration you sign saying that you have to declare if you were on strike, and then if you don't declare and they find out, you've made a false declaration.

they already ask that when you sign on for JSA, giving me the impression that you couldn't sign on while involved in industrial action (although I dunno if this is true, maybe someone else can confirm).

"EIM76223 - Social security benefits: jobseeker's allowance paid during strikes and back to work bonus
Someone who is involved in a strike or trade dispute cannot claim JSA.

Where that person is part of a couple, his or her husband, wife or civil partner may be able to claim JSA but will not receive any extra benefit in respect of the person who is on strike. In these circumstances the JSA is still paid under the JSA payment system.

The JSA is the taxable income of the person making the claim and the taxable maximum is the basic personal allowance paid in respect of that person.

Back to work bonus
Back to work bonus is an extra payment made to people who move from part-time to full-time work (or in some cases stop claiming either income support or JSA for some other reasons).

It is based on part-time earnings declared while the person was working part-time and claiming JSA or income support. Back to work bonus is not taxable (Section 677(1) ITEPA 2003).

Home|Main Contents|Manual Contents

Previous Page|Next Page|Top|Menu

"

Croy
Jun 18 2012 10:22

This makes me fucking angry.

Rachel
Jun 18 2012 11:23

My pay slips show the deductions for Industrial Action.

fingers malone
Jun 18 2012 11:31

Thanks Rachel.

Yes, you already can't claim JSA while you are on strike, I assumed this was about changes to in-work benefits.

Just read the OP again, yes it is, it's about working tax credits.

Ramona
Jun 18 2012 13:25

I wonder if there will be any knock-on effect to housing benefit and LHA as well.

Variant
Jun 18 2012 15:11

A key, and largely uncommented upon, issue does seem to be that it provides a system for very fine-grained monitoring of ALL strike activity, not just recipients of WTC. Might be worth trying to get more info on what the actual reporting system is and what kind of information it might be set up to collate?

If you already qualify for WTC all you might be eligible for is the top-up to the max payment of £52 per week or so - so if you're already so poorly paid to be eligible and in receipt you might only get, what, an extra tenner a week against the first 10 days of strike action? - hardly 'compensating for loss of wages', etc, as has been IDS's excuse.

For government these are piffling figures in any case, one would think hardly worthy of our (£24,222-a-pop towards accommodation costs) MPs' time. So what's IDS on about then?

Is the focus on the WTC component something of a distraction (disciplinary and regressive as it is), as (if I'm reading it right) what it would mean is that ALL employers would have the means and duty to inform HMRC of ALL those striking (not just those on WTC) -- ie a means of government tracking ALL individuals individually with regard to strikes and employers doing all the reporting and taking on the costs and responsibility of that reporting. Is this IDS using the anti-welfare card to orientate still greater workplace surveillance...?

Variant
Jun 18 2012 19:59

Frances O'Grady:

"…The system also seems likely to increase administrative burdens on employers – not only will they be faced with reporting every income fluctuation to the new universal credit computer system, but now they will also have to provide separate information to HMRC on whether any income reductions are the result of industrial action. It may not be intended, but this adds up to a state record of anyone striking. This has serious civil liberties implications. …"

Steven.
Jun 19 2012 08:31

Yeah, I think people are onto something here. The amounts of money don't seem to be significant, if what variant says is correct (I don't really know much about in work benefits personally).

But certainly HMRC basically having a permanent log of everyone who's taken strike action is extremely concerning - and could be a permanent blacklist. Especially seeing all the blacklisting in the construction industry you can imagine that some ruthless employers would pay good money to potentially corrupt HMRC staff for copies of the database…

And as someone else pointed out this would be a big administrative burden on employers. My employer docks your pay but doesn't record why, it is done in the same way as someone who took a day's unpaid leave, for example. They may have to change their entire payroll software system in order to do this, which would be a huge expense - at a time of supposed austerity…

jef costello
Jun 19 2012 17:34

The article I read said that they would add a tax code to payslips. It would be a big pain in the arse for most payroll systems and like people have said above it would be for very small amounts. More worrying the idea of a central record of strikers.