The most savage attacks on the income and living standards of the long-term sick are currently underway, and unofficial reports would appear to confirm our fear that the qualifications now required before a sick or disabled person can receive incapacity and other benefits have been altered to make it virtually impossible for all but the very worst cases to succeed with their claim.
This is leaving vast numbers of chronically sick and disabled people with no other choice than to enter the employment market, despite the fact that they have little or no chance of getting or holding a job.
According to reports in the bourgeois press, these measures have already resulted in up to 90 percent of new applicants for long-term sickness benefits being rejected in some areas and forced onto the unemployment rolls.
Next year, the government plans to subject the 2.6 million existing claimants to these same ‘rigorous’ ‘work capability assessments’, which will have the effect of moving many of them from sickness to unemployment benefits, entailing a huge drop in financial terms, and bringing with it all the harassment that comes with being classed as unemployed.
Another attack upon this already disadvantaged group in our society is also underway. Payment of benefits is changing from weekly to fortnightly, as is already the case for the unemployed and for newer claimants, which means that, every other week, the state holds back money owing to claimants and receives interest on that not inconsiderable sum, regardless of the problems that this might cause people already forced to live from day to day and struggling to balance meagre benefit payments against outgoings.
Owing to the crisis of overproduction that has pushed capitalist economies worldwide into meltdown, unemployment is already rising rapidly. Now the government’s need to slash public expenditure is going to have the very visible and politically undesirable result of adding substantially to the unemployment figures.
But Labour is caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, it wants desperately to convince workers that recovery is round the corner, and will do all in its power to massage unemployment figures and hide the real extent of the crisis. On the other, it is fighting for the very survival of capitalism in Britain, which demands savage cuts in welfare provision that can only lead to further decreases in living standards for Britain’s poorest people and a massive increase in unemployment as state-employed workers are thrown onto the dole and the businesses that previously catered to them go bust.
Workers, both in and out of work, regardless of colour or nationality, both sick and able-bodied, have to realise that our only defence and chance of progress to a better world comes from protecting each other from the attacks of the dying beast that is monopoly capitalism. Moreover, arming ourselves with Marxist-Leninist knowledge, we must move from defence to attack and kill the imperialist beast that sucks the life out of each and every one of us in order to give maximum profit to the few who prosper from this illogical, outmoded and divisive system.