Nearly half a million people put in claims for Universal Credit (UC) in a nine-day period as the coronavirus crisis hit. The figure underlines how the Tory pledge to pay 80 percent of some workers’ wages is nowhere near enough to protect jobs.
Workers are being thrown out of jobs as restaurants, pubs, shops, and services close down. They now face a horrifying battle to claim benefits – and have no idea how long they will wait before receiving any cash.
We've heard a lot of negative reports on the UC helpline. Many have not been able to get through and others have had to wait on the line for hours. When you do get through they give you a date for a further telephone interview! So you are calling to get an appointment for another call...
Small wonder that many believe it’s just a barrier to put people off claiming.
The tidal wave of job losses as coronavirus bites has lifted a lid on the awful working conditions faced by so many people. The Tories increased the time you could get most employment rights from one year to two. They've encouraged zero-hour contracts where all the power is with the boss. Insecurity is the reality for many workers who don't know what hours they will get in a week or even if they will get any. Of course, bosses have wasted no time in sacking these insecure workers.
Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity said:
“They need to make it easier to claim benefits, and cut that initial pointless phone call out, there is no reason why an appointment can't be booked online. They should take on a lot more staff while this crisis is going on. But even if they cut the hoops they make people jump through £94 a week is just not enough to live on. It needs to be raised significantly. The coronavirus crisis has exposed a very cruel system. Aside from raising rates in the current system, we need to think seriously about the many benefits of a Universal Basic Income."