Leeds Welfare Fightback was set up in 2014 by members of the housing campaign group Hands Off Our Homes, with which we still have close links.
Our original focus was on the vicious system of sanctioning of JSA and ESA claimants, ie stopping vital benefits often for the tiniest “failures” to comply with demands of the Job Centre or outsourced welfare-to-work providers, and often for situations beyond the control of the claimant.
Since the announcement by the 2010 Tory government of a raft of new cuts, affecting especially young, adults people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, migrant workers, families with children and social housing tenants, the situation has become desperate and we expect to see soaring rates of poverty-related ill-health, mental health distress, evictions and homelessness. We oppose all of these cuts, along with cuts to public services, sell-offs of social housing and attacks on trade union rights aimed at further limiting our ability to defend ourselves and build the kind of society we want.
At the same time we want to go further, to demand a decent system of social security for everyone, which respects and remunerates the vital work done by carers, parents and others whose work lies outside the waged workplace; and the right to choose work which is meaningful and supports rather than undermines our wellbeing. We recognise our common struggle with those seeking better pay and conditions and security of employment; with those struggling to defend and improve public services; and with all those seeking to build solidarity and mutual support within their neighbourhoods, workplaces or places of education and training, whether through campaigns or through autonomous projects.
We aim to build links with these other groups, campaigns and projects to strengthen our ability to support each other and demand alternatives to the politics of austerity and to the scapegoating and persecution of those most acutely affected.