Thursday, 5 July 2012

Bits and pieces

Leaked figures are quickly forgotten as the media follow banking scandals.  And the government maintains the line that the Work Programme will solve everything.  ITV reported various groups which are concerned about growing levels of child poverty and even hunger.  A government spokesman responded by talking about universal credit and said that: "Work is the best route out of poverty which is why the Work Programme will ensure that people will receive the personalised support they need."  How comforting.

Other papers have carried stories about poverty.  Patrick Butler in the Guardian reports plans to replace crisis loans with vouchers for Tesco or Sainsbury's.  These could be limited to stop them being used for alcohol or tobacco.  People who need to replace essential items like fridges will get chits redeemable only in accredited recycling stores.  The Telegraph reports a speech by the chief operating officer at the DWP, Terry Moran.  He would like to see photos of benefit cheats pinned to lamp posts, to name and shame them.  He admitted that it wasn't likely to happen.

The Yorkshire Post has a story headed "Echoes of the 1930s".  It's about Michael Hall, a 26-year-old from Leeds who stands at a road junction holding up a placard saying, "I'm looking for work."  He worked up until 12 months ago, but has now had to move back in with his parents and lives on £60 pw JSA.  This should be required reading for everyone at the DWP.  But perhaps he's due to go on the WP and receive "personalised support".  

There's some good news, again in the Guardian.  The big five bus companies are planning a scheme to offer free or heavily discounted travel to NEETs.  We know how important this could be to young people trying to find work; but sadly many of the people commenting on the article don't.

One more story, on A4e's own website.  Three middle-aged men in Liverpool found work through a sub-contractor of A4e, Liverpool in Work, which is run by Liverpool City Council.  Now, this is excellent news for the men concerned.  For A4e it serves the two-fold purpose of reflecting well on A4e and showing the good relationship they have with their "partners".  For the rest of us it begs the question, why are companies like A4e involved at all, taking their cut from the activities of sub-contractors?  Some councils are carrying on their schemes alongside the WP, funding them themselves.  Others have chosen to become sub-contractors of the primes.  It would make much more sense to cut the primes out of the picture and put the money into local schemes.


  1. Terry Moran said, He would like to see photos of benefit cheats pinned to lamp posts, to name and shame them. so could we do the same for the people that cheat or just not pay there tax?also can we have photos of every MP that fiddled there expenses I don't think we have that many lamp posts do we.

  2. I wish the current government would just be honest and say what it obviously believes: the state has no role in supporting citizens who are unemployed or become ill.

    We could then have a sensible debate about the role of the state and how the poor could organise to mitigate the end of the welfare state.

    For example the original idea behind building societies was that members each contributed a certain amount of money per week and when there was enough money a house was built. A family would then be selected by lot to become the owners of the property. The process went on until everybody in the society had a home. Hence "building" society.

    In Israel the Trade Unions owned a large part of industry because they had invested and ran business which were then run for the benefit of the people who worked in them.

    The National Health Service was modelled on the charitable health service founded by the miners in South Wales in the 1930's where by those in employment contributed to an insurance fund, but everybody resident in the area was allowed to use the health services if they needed them.

    There are solutions to the domination of politics by the right-wing. The trade union movement and the churches need to step up and take some leadership here.

  3. We ain't seen nothing yet, wait until Universal Credit comes in. To my mind Interserve are as interesting as A4E, they acquired BEST, and provide cleaning services for most hospitals and gp surgeries and William hills Bookies, and no doubt many more. A4E, Interserve, etc, are making profits out of our unemployed and the taxes they and us have paid to help people in these difficult times. Nothing is free, we pay our taxes and NI contributions and people ought to be cared for in the time of need. The way he government are dismantling the nhs is a crime against humanity, the closure of operations in selected heart units around the uk ought to be against human rights. I feel worried for the next few people, it is like being unemployed is a crime, and as far as I know now the local authority informs schools once you are unemployed and you go down as a family at risk, or so I have read. How horrible is this, even worse is how society looks at you, and you know what there are no jobs. Give the jobs to the young ones and teach them skills, and care for the older ones. Imagine working until 68, it is hard for most people especially if you are scrimping and scraping and travelling at quiet times,etc. Yet we always need to remember the rich are getting richer. Why is it that a lot of the working class point the finger to the unemployed too, I say point your fingers to the tax avoiding rich, and it is legal.

  4. Went in to my WP subcontractor (council) yesterday,reception was closed,redirected to another,appointment was changed to "work search" decent fella,I asked why the reception was closed? remodeling,really? no,we have moved staff,why? "This programme is in trouble,the Prime is having trouble with funding,the jobs advertised are not really out there,we are changing our delivery method and now want your input in to what job interests you." The Games A foot!

  5. I'v worked for 30 years paid my tax and NI
    never thought I would be out of work until I retired but in 2011 I lost my job and have to be on benefits'
    what the people that seem to have a downer
    on some of the people on benefits' are forgetting is that they may have a job now but they may not have that job a month or 6 months or a year from now and they will be going and asking for benefits will they consider themselves parasites/scroungers
    no I don't think they will, but if this government go on the way they are going and no one challenging them we will not have a benefits' system or or NHS
    you only have to look at the US to see what those people suffer do we want to go down that way??

    1. The NI should be a clue "Insurance" we do not plan on using it,but it is there for a purpose,the politicians act as we are abusing the system,they have spent the money that has accrued on other things,now that it is needed they attack the unemployed. Start cleaning up the mess that they have created,then maybe they can go after us.

    2. True. But this is where the difficulty comes in with an insurance model. More and more people have never paid into the pot, and that enables people to talk about "scroungers".

    3. I could easily be mistaken but I was under the impression that the Government pays the full NI "stamp" on behalf of all Benefits claimants in the UK? Obviously, it is only a notional payment but I believe that Benefits claimants are treated as having paid all their NI contributions in full from the date when their Benefit was awarded?

      If I'm right about this (if!) there might well be situations where the Benefits claimant has never paid any NI out of his/her own pocket. However, this would not make the Benefits claimant a "scrounger" in my view. Rather, it would be an indication that Ministers might like to have another look at the relevant legislative provisions.

      It is open to Parliament to change the law but it is NOT open to a Minister of the Crown to go around alleging that Bloggs is a "scrounger." Grayling wouldn't like it if Bloggs retorted that Grayling is bone idle and enough people believed Bloggs to persuade all the other people to agree with Bloggs' opinions about Grayling.

      Government By Propaganda is unacceptable - legally, constitutionally and socially. It speaks volumes - negative volumes, imho - about the present Government that their Ministers seem to be too lazy to rely on anything except propaganda.

    4. "There might well be situations where the Benefits claimant has never paid any NI out of his/her own pocket." That's the point, Judi. There were many years when the vast majority of able-bodied people worked for at least some of the time and paid NI. Fewer do now. So a lot of people feel that any reform to the system should return to the days when you got unemployment benefit for as long as your contributions lasted, and then go on to a means-tested lesser benefit. That's the debate that needs to be had.

    5. So time limited benifits? try the bankers who run goverments dont blame the fallout in this deeply sick/corrupt society.

    6. "There might well be situations where the Benefits claimant has never paid any NI out of his/her own pocket."

      First I was a single parent bringing up a child, now I am looking for work there is none, and this seems to be entirely due to the fact I am looking for work in a recession. The occasional P/T jobs I have done don't pay enough or last long enough to make more than an absolute minimal contribution.

    7. I'm certainly not advocating time-limited benefits, not in the sense you mean. I'm not advocating anything. But the debate may well centre on whether some link between contributions and benefits should be restored. Polly, your situation is common in a period of high unemployment. A contributions-based system only works when unemployment is low.

  6. A report by KPMG today seems to say that unemployment is becoming worse:

    I believe that the Work Programme scheme would probably succeed in a thriving, buoyant economy where there is plenty of new job creation. I think the Work Programme is the wrong scheme for an economy that is in a recession which is likely to deepen before we will see any recovery.

  7. Hi Judi
    "I think the Work Programme is the wrong scheme for an economy that is in a recession". I think of this as "peddling parachutes on the Titanic" - may be intrinsically useful but the wrong thing at the wrong time and doing more damage than good.
    Huffington Post reports on WP failure:



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