Thursday, 27 May 2010


Following on from my previous post, the item on the BBC's "World at One" didn't add much. The focus was on the need to simplify the benefits system and make it worthwhile to take a job. A chap from the Centre for Social Justice talked about increasing the amount one can earn before benefits start to be withdrawn, and getting rid of the 16 hour rule. A Labour spokesman, while agreeing with the aims, said that simplification, reducing the number of benefits to two, would inevitably mean that some people were worse off, and that is hard to deal with politically. Equally tricky is the question of sanctions. It's one thing to stop the benefits of someone who isn't willing to work, but what about his wife and children?
Iain Duncan Smith, in a recorded piece, talked about the real and perceived risks to the unemployed of taking up jobs, and the need to make it worth working. Asked about sanctions, he agreed that sanctions already exist but have not, he said, been implemented, but now will be.
This doesn't answer the question raised by Labour about the dependants of someone who is sanctioned. It ignores the fact that people do indeed lose benefits when they don't comply with, for instance, attendance on a programme.
There is a great deal still to be worked out in this legislation. On the one hand, they have to come up with a viable benefits system; on the other, they have to renegotiate the welfare-to-work contracts. It could be a while before we see any changes.

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