Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Welfare State

The BBC2 programme on the Welfare State tonight is being so well promoted that we don't have to watch it. I'm listening to part of it now on the Today programme. And Left Foot Forward has already analysed why Humphrys is wrong. I don't intend to watch, but feel free to comment if you do. "The age of entitlement", he says, "must be brought to an end."

I reported that Emma Harrison's Family Champions scheme was to consist entirely of volunteers. But Poole council in Dorset "has obtained funding to become part of the Working Families Everywhere Programme which provides one to one support to help families overcome unemployment and return to work." Three of these people will have contracts running to March 2013. How will that fit with the ESF contract, which is being run down there by something called Paragon Concord International?


  1. Just listened to that clip. The usual nonsense. Here's a couple of parents (who receive a collaction of different benefits, which is the reason they seem to get a lot of 'free' money) that don't want to work for less then they receive. Well why shouldn't they? If wages were worth something they'd feel differently wouldn't they? Oh no, they must be scroungers. Same old ridiculous nonsense. Plus an ominous quote from some council leader claiming that everyone unemployed in his patch isn't applying for jobs. As if he'd know.

    Same old bloody same old

  2. would appear that the BBC has pulled the Panorama 'Britain On The Fiddle prog. It has been replaced by a prog on the Dale Farm occupation / eviction.

    I wonder why????????

    Anything to do with viewers pointing to TWO progs appearing to be critical of jobseekers in the same week and indeed the same day?

  3. It has been sad to see the BBC decline to the point where it is little more than a propoganda station for the government. Protests are ignored and the government position is rarely challenged on anything. The BBC caved in to the government's demands re. the licence fee and funding the World Service, senior management are reintroducing bonuses for themselves, lower level producers who actually create programmes are being forced to reapply for their jobs while those at a senior level who do nothing but monitor compliance are exempt.

    Twice this year John Humphrys has turned in disgraceful interviews on Today with Christopher Grayling where the latter was not challenged over his use of fraudulent statistics. The whole Today programme, which was once the BBCs flagship is sloppy and padded with celebs plugging books and CDs, has lost 400,000 listeners in the last quarter according to yesterday's RAJAR figures. Humphry's is a multi-millionaire who admitted his huge salary for presenting Mastermind was "money for old rope" and who moonlights for very large sums on the dinner and conferance speaking circuit.

    Thos who hail Larry Mead would do well to look at the studies by american trade unions which estimate workfare in New York cost 20,000 low paid jobs with some people doing the same job for workfare which they were previously paid for.

    A more interesting piece was shown on Newsnight much earlier this year which showed welfare payments in the US are so low that families move into a cheap motel for a week or two when they receive their monthly welfare cheque and then spend the remaining weeks in church basements.

    All governments need reminding than workfare is not the last option before destitution, crime is.

    The "Britain On The Fiddle" programme has simply been delayed a week, perhaps the BBC has filled its bigotry quota for the week.

    I'm sure John Humphrys' knighthood is getting ever closer

  4. Trick Or Treat

    Quote link on the right Fine defaulters face benefit loss

    Well David Cameron certainly is not missing a trick with this new proposed increase from £5 to £25 per week deduction from benefits to pay fines

    What next I wonder.

  5. To be fair, the show could have been more right wing. Though that isn't a compliment.

    Again it isn't really much of anything other than stating the most obvious and superficial facts (if that) regarding the system. Some basic questions are asked, met with stock asnwers, and noone gets anywhere. The poll tells me thing, i have no idea who was asked or what their demographics were. But the answers aer sadly not surprising: the majority of people think the benefits system needs reform of some kind. Yay.

    I don't understand where this idea of entitlement comes from. People are entitled to claim benefits and that money comes from the income paid to the treasury through tax and NI etc and we all pay one or the other. So if we aren't entitled to this money, what else is going to happen to it? Are prices going to come down? MPs going to take a pay cut? Public services restored? More foreign invasions?

    The sequence with Larry Mead was the usual workfare claptrap. It also demonstrated that neither Humphrys nor the yanks understand that welfare payments to the unemployed ARE conditionial. There is no 'entitlement' as they see it. So what are they whinging about? Frankly Larry Mead is another right wing apologist who should be told to sling his hook by any civilised country. I bet he isn't in any danger of requiring financial support.

    No discussion of the responsibilities of a decent society to help people. If you want peopel to work, then provide decent work for them to do. Don't hijack the contract between self and state so that the ownership class gets free labour.

    And then the GP who couldn't believe there were 2million genuine sick benefit claimants. She provides no evidence for this, nor does the programme. Yet she is an 'expert' - though not expert enough to refuse signing notes (or her colleagues) for people she sees that want to claim. Are we to believe these claims are all fraudulent because of dimwitted or culpable doctors? No, that point is never explored.

    Then there's the tour at a WP facility where the owner proudly talks about how she gets adults to bake fairy cakes as a means to motivation. It's like a kindergarten as we see pictures on the walls the claimants have (had to) drawn in 'motivation collages' or some such (my words). Some footage of a typical WP class seemed to focus on the need to convince the unemployed how great 'work' is, but no discussion of what work is in terms of a career or a rewarding life contributing to a good society. Presumably any job is a good job and thus work is great. That doesn't explain why 60% of the rioters in August weren't out of work for example, or the country's problems with alchohol and antisocial behaviour as well as high levels of stress and anxiety. Also the claimants themselves were not alien to work - they had worked. Why then is the WP wasting time and money 'teaching' people about work as if it were a foreign language? Will that help them find any?
    In answer to John's question about availability of jobs, the owner says the usual 'there are jobs out there' and mentions there were, as of April (don't knwo when the show as filmed) 500 thousand positions. There are way more people claiming - with more being forced to compete through losing their sick benefits.

    So we are no closer to understanding anything if this is the only lens we intend examining these issues through. The programme has informed me not at all and only confirmed my fears that unemployment is a gravy train for a cadre of pimps and capitalists.

    Apologies for the spelling. I wish i'd learned typing at school (instead of economics hah!).

  6. I didn't watch the programme, but I'd like to make an observation about "entitlement". The original idea of the welfare state was an insurance system. When in work you paid into the coffers and when you were unemployed you got benefits. Payments to others who didn't or couldn't work were known as "national assistance" or some such and were means tested. The feeling among many people now is that the link between contributing and getting back has been broken and people who have never worked nevertheless feel entitled to benefits.

    Sickness or incapacity benefits have a troubled history. In some areas where workers were made redundant on a huge scale, doctors were willing to sign certificates because sickness benefit was higher than the "dole". That suited governments because those on "sick" didn't count in the unemployment figures. There are undoubtedly people claiming incapacity benefits who are fitter than some people who are working. How do we change that (or do we want to change it?)

    The myth about the number of jobs out there persists, and I don't know how we are going to change that either!

    I'm thinking of writing a post on the history of welfare. Some broadcasters could do with the lesson

  7. The welfare system has become a tool of politics and a revenue stream for governments, just like any insruance system. Unsurprisingly they don't like paying that money back.
    But it's not just insurance for a given individual that's paid in during a career of work. It's also insurance against society-wide poverty, inequality and division. When people have nothing left, because they have nothing to live on, then they turn to crime.


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