PCS members strike at Hewlett Packard over cuts to jobs and pay

Tim Lezard

IDSThe PCS has issued a challenge to work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith to prove his claim that anyone is better off on benefits than in work.

As the government launches universal credit, the union says the Department for Work and Pensions’ own figures show it pays to work, contrary to the rhetoric Duncan Smith and others continually use.

And the minister’s own staff in jobcentres use spreadsheet calculators to help claimants see how much better off they would be in work.

DWP figures show that, even compared to working for 30 hours a week on the minimum wage, benefits – including housing – are only worth 79% of in-work income.

This is supported by data compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to assess the ‘replacement rate’ for moving from benefits into work for dozens of household types. There is not one example of a household being better off on benefits.

The challenge comes at the start of a week of renewed campaigning by the union on welfare issues, starting with a protest in Ashton-under-Lyne, where universal credit is being trialled.

The union says the government should rethink universal credit and prioritise creating jobs and supporting people into them instead of demonising those out of work and entitled to benefits.

Hewlett PackardAlso today around 1,500 of the union’s members who work for Hewlett Packard on government contracts, including DWP, will be on strike in a dispute over cuts to jobs and pay at the highly profitable multinational IT firm.

The welfare week forms part of the union’s national three-month campaign of industrial action and protests over cuts to pay, pensions and working conditions.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “If universal credit was being introduced to genuinely make life easier for people entitled to benefits it would be commendable, but the government’s pernicious language exposes its real intent is to demonise and punish them.

“We have shown that ministers are prepared to mislead and misdirect to drive through their welfare cuts so we are challenging Iain Duncan Smith and others to prove what they claim is true. The next time a minister says people are better off on benefits than in work, give them a pen and paper and ask them to show you how.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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