Tuesday, 15 April 2014

More lies v. truth

You couldn't have a better example today of this government's contempt for the truth, and how the media collude with them.
On the one hand there are two articles, in the Express and the Mail.  The very names tell you what's coming - a platform for Iain Duncan Smith to lie about some made-up figures.  They are the same article, really.  The Mail says: "Half of those caught out by benefits cap are 'spurred to seek work': New figures show the system is working".  This is based on an Ipsos Mori poll of "more than 1,600 capped households" showed that 28% did more to find work.  Pretty thin, you might say.  Even thinner is the finding that 11% of capped households have found work, although you'll have to get your calculator out to work that one out.  This gives IDS the excuse to claim that the cap is changing people's behaviour, etc, etc.  This is the sort of nonsense which he was rebuked for, but he takes no notice.  
The Express's version oozes hatred, as usual, referring to "handouts", "welfare bonanza", "workshy", "creaming off" and on and on, but it's the same lie based on the same dubious figures.  Bringing in Jonathan Isaby of the Taxpayers Alliance to parrot the right things hardly enhances the credibility of this rotten propaganda.
So for an antidote we turn to the Guardian, and first to an article by Patrick Wintour.  The same Ipsos Mori poll which delights IDS also shows that a third of people affected by the cap have had to cut back on essential items.  Just as important are the findings of Citizens Advice.  The increased ruthlessness of the sanctions regime is driving people to loan sharks and hindering them from looking for work.  They point out that on the Work Programme twice as many people are sanctioned as find work.
And then there's an excellent article by Polly Toynbee.  The latest employment figures will show that more people are in work; but in the last 3 months all the increase is down to self-employment.  And most of it is down to desperation.  Toynbee goes on to look at Help to Work.  Since nobody actually calls it that, let's refer to it as workfare.  She says: "For once, instead of rushing in, the DWP has done a good control trial on this with 15,000 unemployed. The pilot's results, however, were sneaked out just before Christmas with no press release. That's no surprise when you uncover the findings.  First the unemployed were given a 13-week warning period to act as a deterrent, and then 26 weeks of either 'intensive Jobcentre Plus support', or the workfare 'community action programme'. Or they went into the control group with nothing special. Here's what happened: exactly the same number in the control group – 18% – found themselves jobs as those doing the forced community work. Just 1% more found jobs from the group with jobcentre support. In other words, workfare didn't work. Although 68% of the control group were still on unemployment benefits at the end, so were 66% of those who did the community work and 64% of those given jobcentre support."
Help to Work is only two weeks from launch, but there hasn't even been an announcement of the contractors, and Toynbee couldn't get an answer out of the DWP.  She concludes that the only reason for going ahead with this is that it takes people out of the unemployment figures for 6 months.  " Incidently," she says, "these sad long-term cases will do more than twice the maximum any court can sentence a thief to on Community Payback. To be out of work is now officially morally worse than committing a crime."

24 comments:

  1. IDS reminds me of Emma Harrison,he does not know when to be quiet,all those affected by the benefit cap(which I to a point agree should be there) have been required to look for work anyway,it is a rehash of old policy,it makes it apparent that he is on the old policy of distracting attention of every failed programme that he is in charge of....Or maybe I am the Insane one!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Daily Express is vile. How they have escaped censure for the lies they publish on a consistent basis is beyond me.

    That worthless rag should be banned.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good articles, although a little late to the party in the case of Toynbee. All of this has been in the public domain for ages (including the intended numbers, although they won't reflect reality), and her article really adds nothing to what's already been said here and elsewhere, other than by giving it a higher profile. Even with that, I'm not sure that (with the very occasional exception) scrounger bashers read the Guardian in any case, so she may be preaching to the converted.

    She also hints at the obvious conclusion rather making it explicit - in fact, the subeditor does a better job. Help to Work has nothing to do with helping people to find work, and everything to do with sending a simple message: if you want to harass and humiliate the vulnerable, the sick, those born to the wrong parents or in the wrong part of the country, vote Tory.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm never sure why people who are not rabid Tories disapprove of Polly Toynbee. She's one of the few left-wing journalists who gets on TV and radio regularly, and consistently provides a reasoned, informed counter to the rightist propaganda. It's okay to leave it to the subs to provide the headline.

      Delete
    2. If you're suggesting I dislike or disapprove of her, I don't. I rather like her personally and respect her professionally. My comment was born out of a sense of frustration that the time for this was last year, at the absolute latest when Osborne announced Help to Work at conference.

      Delete
    3. Probably right. But as a journalist she's dependent on someone publishing it.

      Delete
  4. There's an analysis of the Ipsos Mori survey on FullFact here: https://fullfact.org/economy/impact_benefit_cap_claimant_job_seeking-31483
    But it's a flawed analysis, in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The issues with benefit sanctions are not just to do with the severity of them, but also their sheer inconsistency and utter futility. One JC adviser could say one thing regarding a jobseekers activities which could contradict what another colleague says next week within the SAME JC! Most here have no doubt seen lists of ridiculous sanctions. Such as:

    You’re on a workfare placement, and your jobcentre appointment comes round. The jobcentre tells you to sign on then go to your placement which you do. The workfare placement reports you for being late and you get sanctioned for 3 months.

    You get given the wrong forms, get sanctioned for not doing the right forms. (Source: Adventures in Workfare blog )

    You don’t apply for an IT job that needs skills you don’t have so you get sanctioned. (Source: Geminisnake on Urban75 forums )

    Thus we see jobseekers increasingly toe tipping and playing the DWP's silly games of box ticking and chasing numbers simply to avoid being sanctioned. When instead they should be using their energies finding suitable employment and re-skilling.

    Congrats to Smith! You have transformed a dysfunctional system into a broken one. Well done!

    P.S. This should make good night time reading:

    The Cost of IDS
    "100 ways Iain Duncan- Smith’s Department have made life worse for the sick, poor & disabled"
    by Éoin Clarke

    http://www.greenbenchesuk.com/2014/01/the-cost-of-ids-100-ways-iain-duncan.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. We could have zero unemployment in Britain but if those 'self-employed' or 'in-work' are not actually working then it is a meaningless statistic.

    The Tories are attempting to 'spin' their way to a majority at the next General Election.

    The big question is this: how long can they keep the plates spinning?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Personal question.. Don't answer if to personal. Along way to go I know.. but who do you vote for?? Have not really got any faith in any political party. Such a bad state of affairs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I honestly don't know who I'm going to vote for in 2015. But I'm in one of those constituencies where it doesn't matter how I vote. The important thing, though, is to be aware of the local situation. For instance, Esther McVey has a very slim majority, so it would be mad to refuse to vote there. I have no patience with those who say they are not going to vote at all. You will still have a government the day after the election. I intend to contact all the candidates and ask them specific questions about social security, education and the NHS.

      Delete
    2. I will certainly be voting. I am probably going to do more on a local level to look at the candidates like you say. Have not got a clue where ill vote. This next 12 months will decide I suppose. Not looking good for this government at the moment, but can you see this labour government winning?

      Delete
    3. I live in a Labour-Lib Dem marginal and will be voting Labour, although it'll be (cliché alert) on the basis of being the best of a bad bunch. Some of the shadow team are people of considerable integrity, although I find the proposition of Labour overall still pretty unappealing.

      The question of to what extent that's a matter of preference or a matter of choice is interesting. I suspect some within the party would instinctively feel more comfortable paying less heed to neoliberal nostrums, supply side policy, the skiver/striver narrative. On the other hand, many in the shadow cabinet are instinctively (small c) conservative in nature and besides, we get the government we deserve. While most people are uncomfortable with the way disabled people (the deserving poor) are being affected, scrounger-bashing polls very well.

      The Job Guarantee is a decent proposal though, with a couple of caveats: I wish it wasn't a 'compulsory' guarantee, and it'll need a degree of nuance. You can no longer rely on a JSA claimant being able to work (not that you ever could, really) so a one-size fits all approach could become a sanction production line. Labour, thankfully, do acknowledge this.

      Delete
  8. I'll be voting Labour. The Tories are intent on taking Britain back into the 1800's, pre-National Insurance and the Welfare State. This will have serious economic and social consequences that will effect everyone not just the unemployed. Yes, it is expensive but what price do you put on genuine jobs, social cohesion and stability?

    I for one am not being fooled by the current wave of optimism flowing through the uncritical BBC and right-wing media regarding inflation and employment. This is the weakest economic recovery in modern British history based almost entirely on distorted statistics and one that has left millions of Britons underemployed.

    Britain has many serious economic and social problems that are being ignored by the mainstream media because we do not wish to face our problems, partly due the increase in tax it would take to tackle them e.g. underemployment and a lack of social housing. I have more faith that Labour will tackle these problems.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I live in a Lib-Dem/UKIP marginal, in which a lot of disaffected Tories have switched to UKIP.

    I intend to vote for the Lib-Dems in 2015 because I believe it will be vital to try to prevent a Tory majority at Westminster. Also, I have no quarrel with my excellent Lib-Dem local authority. Additionally, I believe that the EU is essential to forcing restraint on the Tories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is potentially a big problem for the Tories - losing seats to the Liberals or even UKIP. Don't be surprised if the Tories do a deal with UKIP! Or already have in place a 'secret agreement' which may not come into the public sphere until AFTER the General Election!

      Delete
    2. Living in Scotland , the referendum on independence looks to me to be seen as an anti Tory opportunity. Most of the people I speak to are planning to vote yes. Maybe the biggest legacy of IDS and co will be the break up of the U.K.

      Delete
  10. David Cameron says the same as IDS -

    http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2014/17-april/comment/opinion/my-faith-in-the-church-of-england

    Some issues such as welfare are more controversial. I sometimes feel not enough is made of our efforts to tackle poverty. Of course, we have been through some tough economic times in turning our country around over the past few years. But it is through the dignity of work, the reforms to welfare that make work pay, and our efforts to deliver the best schools and skills for young people, that our long-term economic plan can best help people to a more secure future. And that is why today there are 1.6 million new private-sector jobs, unemployment is at its lowest level in half a decade, and there are more than 500,000 fewer people on out-of-work benefits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lot of people were pushed by the WP into Self Employment,no real job,just a different benefit,Zero Hour Contracts,Part Time not enough hours, Apprenticeships salary reimbursed mostly by the DWP,CWP forced labour and the amazing rise in Sanctions.....IDS is crap at most things,but misleading the Public and Parliament...I think he has found his niche!

      Delete
  11. Their is an article in the DM today with a headline about the rising cost of the Benefits Bill,a Pie Chart and a few sound bites from IDS..Reading the comments section it is apparent that the strategy of divide and rule is still in effect,a lot of OAP's have taken offence and rightly so about the pension that they have paid into being called a benefit. What is also very obvious is exactly how little JSA costs (£3.6 Billion) I would like to see the how much the WP,JCP+,CWP and the administration costs compared to the cost of the JSA. Maternity pay is £2.4 Billion,could that be IDS next target? Will it be Politically incorrect to start a family? Will expecting mothers and fathers be publicly shamed?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're getting ahead of me again.

      Delete
  12. Sorry,slow week as Parliament is on holiday,,,,,,again...and watching the European Parliament is to say the least annoying.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The problem Cameron and Tories will have at the next GE is trying to convince the millions of people who have may have work but are on low-incomes to vote Conservative. His words above show that he is either ignorant of this or he is in denial. Yes, the economy is improving but for most people the effects of this will be minimal until productivity and wages increase significantly and, of course, more people find full-time work.

    The economic recovery, such as it is, has been very weak and I don't think people will be convinced by a 0.1% increase in real wages.

    ReplyDelete
  14. http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1143577/government-unveils-plans-outsource-child-protection

    Sorry to be off topic but even child protection now for sale, possibility of the likes of A4E, Capita, Serco getting more money

    ReplyDelete

Keep it clean, please. No abusive comments will be approved, so don't indulge in insults. If you wish to contact me, post a comment beginning with "not for publication".