Is this the first time in the city there has actually been a demonstration in support of Salford City Council?
Usually, trade unions and community campaigns stand outside the Civic Centre slamming councillors who are about to make cuts to services, but tomorrow morning, Wednesday 15th November, Salford TUC, Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre, Unite Community and others have called a demonstration supporting the Council's motion calling for a halt to the roll-out of Universal Credit.
The controversial and hated new benefits system, which has left many in debt, with over six week long waits until any money arrives, has been labelled the Tory Government's 'poll tax moment'. It was protests against Thatcher's poll tax which led to her downfall.*
Tomorrow's motion, to be moved by Labour Party councillors Paula Boshell and Barbara Bentham, begins "This Council believes that the Universal Credit process is flawed and causing unnecessary hardship to local families...
"We note that Universal Credit was deliberately introduced on a slow rollout so that any issues could be seen and corrected before the benefit was introduced to all claimants" it adds
"The evidence of this Council as a pilot, and others across the country, is that Universal Credit is causing huge increases in rent arrears and in general debt levels amongst claimants, many of whom have never been in debt before" it explains "In addition we note the trend that landlords are refusing to accept tenants receiving Universal Credit, leading to an increase in those registering as homeless and seeking temporary accommodation.
"While we welcome the removal of benefit help line charges this Council resolves to write to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, making these points, requesting that the Government addresses these issues, and that the roll-out is halted until the problems are fixed" it concludes.
While there have been campaigning petitions and open letters to the Government signed by Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham*, amongst others, this is the first actual motion put forward by a Greater Manchester council calling for a halt to the Universal Credit roll-out.
The demonstration in support of the Salford Council motion, backed by Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre, Salford TUC and Unite Community amongst others, will take place Wednesday 15th November at 9:30am outside Salford Civic Centre on Chorley Road, Swinton M27 5AW and then in the public gallery inside the chamber.
*See previous Salford Star article: Greater Manchester Petition To Halt Roll-Out of Universal Credit – click here