“A society without a welfare state is a society that does no protect its citizens, that doesn’t take care of its future generations.”
Although the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government claims that they are only reducing some benefits, in reality this is the most vicious attack by a government against the British welfare system since its creation in 1948.
Not even Margaret Thatcher – who introduced the unpopular Poll Tax – dared to unleash an assault of such scale against the working class; against mothers, children, the disabled, and other more disadvantaged members of society.
We are therefore faced with an historic set-back to the welfare system that was rolled out extensively after World War II.
The coalition government has taken ultra liberal measures based exclusively on the markets and privatisation. These measures favour banks, big finance and the elite, which represent a tiny minority in British society.
How far can we take cuts to healthcare, education, unemployment protection, family payments, freezing the minimum wage and eliminating disability payments and rental subsidies? We don’t know because there are still more to come, including cuts to pensions.
The tabloid press lies with its headlines blamed their tax burden on “cheaters” of the system, on single mothers, the unemployed and immigrants. Arguing that therefore the only solution is to cut benefits and eliminate the welfare state.
Unemployment remains high with about 2.5 million people out of work, with an estimated one million of those unemployed young people.
The neoliberal “package” of economic measures from the Tories last Monday puts the pressure on to reduce the burden of the economic crisis on social sectors excluded from the system. The cuts to benefits represent a real increase in the cost of living, as well as the price of food and transport for the most vulnerable members of society.
The welfare state was once thought to give capitalism a human face, this “new” capitalism was believed to be different from the over-exploitative, exclusionist and mercantislist 19th Century capitalism. This was also how it was understood by the rest of Europe, but coincidentally, Europe is also beginning to dismantle the welfare state.
The British welfare system is what led to the creation of the NHS, an institution of national pride, which forms part of the British national psyche. This was made evident at the last Olympic Games.
A society without a welfare state is a society that doesn’t protect its citizens, that doesn’t take care of its future generations.
Capitalism has openly revealed its true face, with the brutal domination of capital over labour. This is happening with the so-called “bedroom tax”. According to conservatives, households must pay a tax to have an extra room, no matter what their circumstances. The family must either move to a smaller home, or pay an extra tax.
The government has also drastically reduced funding to Legal Aid, and many people with limited resources continue to be abused by their employers, landlords and struggle in divorce cases etc.
Migrant communities and ethnic minorities – including the Latin American community – have also been significantly affected. Many migrants are paid below the London minimum wage.
There is already a decrease, as a result of the cuts, in funding charities for migrants. The elimination or reduction of benefits only exacerbates the situation. The fight has begun.
(Translated by Grace Essex- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)