It may seem that the cast of ‘Oliver Twist’ is entertaining the weekend shoppers on Lemon Quay, Truro this Saturday but in fact it’ll be a fancy dress protest, comparing the suffering of those faced with life on Universal Credit with the grim hopelessness of Dickensian poverty.
The Cornwall branch of the trade union Unite is organising the unique protest as part of a national day of action against Universal Credit. The demo is due to take place Sat Dec 2nd from 11 am and protesters are invited to come dressed in Victorian rags to show their opposition.
Zoe Fox of Unite said the fancy dress theme is “Christmas is cancelled due to benefit cuts and delays” as those applying for Universal credit now will not receive any financial support in time for Christmas.
The new system rolls together ‘in work benefits’ such as tax credits with unemployment and sickness benefits and housing benefit.
Zoe explained further
“Research into the effects of Universal credit has shown that half of all claimants will be worse off and the 6 week wait is plunging people into unmanageable debt. Government claims that extra help may be available do not mention that this in the form of repayable loans. People working less than 35 hours a week will have to undertake extra work and the disabled will also suffer new hardships as they will be forced to make a new claim and wait 12 weeks for payment
Anyone would think we lived in a third world country- not the 6th richest country on earth. It seems like the Victorian ages- not the 21st century.”
The event will run from 11am till 2pm .
Sue Joan Lewis, who is the secretary of ‘Unite Community’ Cornwall Branch said that support was out there for people in need. ”We run a ‘drop-in’ every week at the All Saints Community Centre in Camborne, where the centre manager is stockpiling tents and warm clothing to deal with the expected fall-out. We also offer support there every Friday from 11-1pm for anyone struggling to access benefits or work through the system- which can be hugely intimidating. There is access to a bank of computers for online applications and friendly support and warm drinks, all run by volunteers. Anyone facing difficulties is welcome to drop in and we will help in any way we can.”