The BBC is to broadcast a Panorama programme about the young unemployed, tomorrow 26 April at 8.30 pm. It returns to a programme they filmed in 2007 about four young unemployed people in Swindon. "The programme first met them in 2007 and set them real-life Apprentice-style work challenges, with dramatic results. Since then the recession has struck, and hit Swindon - and their prospects - hard. How have they responded?" (BBC website) Today's Times gives us a taste of what is in this programme. "The former government minister Lord Jones has suggested that unemployed young people who refuse to look for a job should be “starved back to work” rather than continue to claim thousands of pounds in benefits." It's predictable stuff. "One of the pair, who were from middle-class families, told Jones that he and his girlfriend were paid about £12,000 a year in jobseeker’s allowance and housing benefit, and there was no reason for them to look for work. This is equivalent to a gross income of £15,000-£16,000." Shocking. And Jones' conclusion? "He said that while looking for a job, claimants should carry out community work — such as cleaning lavatories or removing graffiti — or study at college. While he did not support forced starvation, he believed anyone who refused three offers of jobs should lose the dole and be put in hostels and given “subsistence rations” of food and water. Jones said: “I’d say to them, ‘Sorry, mate, you have just surrendered your choices in life’.”"
The comments on the article are equally predictable. But the unemployed will be asking the obvious question. Where do those job offers come from? As we've pointed out before, you are not handed a job, you have to go out and ask for it. And no government, whatever the rhetoric, is going to create jobs specifically for the unemployed; and no government (one sincerely hopes) is going to change the law to remove the concept of the personal allowance, the minimum someone needs to live on.
It's a good time for the right-wing press to carry articles like this. It's less obvious why the BBC should choose an election campaign to run programmes like this. - hard. How have they responded?s. Since then the recession has struck, and hit Swindon - and their prospects - hard. How have they responded?