Saturday, 1 December 2012

A frightening future

I'm scared of what's being done to the poor in this country.  I don't have to worry about the welfare system for myself, not at the moment.  But the damage that's being done to society, and the potential implications down the road, are truly frightening.  Let's just see how all the government's actions add up.

  1. The Work Programme was meant to start to get the long-term unemployed back into work, and leave them with no excuse for not having a job.  It was largely hot air, of course, but Iain Duncan Smith seemed to have convinced himself that it was real.  He is unable to abandon that now.
  2. In the absence of actual jobs, there is a sharp increase in the amount of "mandatory work activity", whether as part of the WP or as a separate programme.  Some of this is time-limited, some is indefinite in length.  From Monday this is to extend to those who are still officially sick or disabled (see an excellent Guardian article).  The DWP refuses to disclose the identity of employers profiting from this scheme, despite a ruling that they should.  They have admitted that private companies are involved, but insist that the work has to be "of community benefit".  The DWP's own figures show that this activity has no impact on whether someone can get a real job, so the whole thing has to be seen as deliberately punitive, or pandering to Daily Mail readers.  Common sense says that this is preventing the creation of real jobs.  If companies can get free labour, there is no need to hire anyone.
  3. In the ideological fantasies of the right, there is no contradiction between the failure of the Work Programme and belief that people dependent on benefits are too comfortable, and need to be made to suffer in order to find work.  According to IDS, the system is "stifling incentive, opportunity and responsibility".  (The Telegraph yesterday.)  It should not "pay for a life on benefits when work is available".  Last Tuesday's release of performance data didn't actually happen, you dreamt it.
  4. So their benefits are to frozen.  So far we don't know whether that includes housing benefit.  If it does, there will be a rapid increase in homelessness.  Even if it doesn't, the impact of an ever-declining standard of living will have the same effect eventually.
  5. If all you can get is part-time work, and you are eligible for tax credits, you may well have to get more hours to qualify.  It's going up to 30 hours a week minimum.  So if you can't get more hours, your only recourse is to stop working altogether and depend on benefits entirely.  
  6. The "bedroom tax" isn't a tax at all, but a gratuitously nasty attack on the poorest.  Anyone living in "social housing" (I loathe that term) and claiming benefits shouldn't have a spare bedroom.  So you'll have to move.  If you're unlucky enough to live in one of those areas where there is a severe shortage of, say, single-bedroom flats owned by councils or housing associations, then you're going to have to move right out of the area, or move into private rented accommodation - which will cost more, so the cost to the taxpayer goes up.  Wonderful.
Don't look to Labour to change things.  

Some people talk in apocalyptic terms about "work camps" or "back to the workhouse".  Others foresee civil unrest - rioting, in effect - on a big scale.  I don't know.  But I'm scared.


  1. I find this interesting, I'm currently doing voluntary work in a charity shop but have been told I can't work more that 16hrs a week as, according the the job centre, doing anymore hours wouldn't leave me enough time to find a job, yet, I'm assuming, mandatory work activity can be more than 16hrs a week, so can work experience or mandatory courses. If it comes to me being forced to do work activities, I'll certainly be bringing up this point!

    1. Helen,I also find this confusing,one minute I am on MWA the next on WRA 30 hours a week working for a Builder,1.3 hour bus ride to the site(builders yard is only 5 miles away but the bus does not arrive on time)9.5hours Monday-Wednesday.Installing insulation decent blokes to work with but they are on £300 per week,they have more work than they can handle(X-mas deadline)but are only taking on WP people,feeling a little abused..WP reaction? Suck it up "You are lucky to have this opportunity"?????????

    2. Helen, there should be no limit to the hours that you are allowed to work voluntarily for a charity. Unless the rules have changed recently, and they're always changing, the only demand is that you are willing to give up this work if you are offered paid employment. If you're worried then ask for clarification from the job centre. If they're not helpful then contact your local CAB.

  2. The bedroom tax, I live in a 2 bed flat and will have to pay £20 a fortnight towards my rent because of this, yet if I moved to a 1 bedroom, it would have to be private let which means the amount of housing benefit I would get would cost more than what I get now, costing the tax payers more. But instead of treating each case individually and realising it would cost them more money for some people this way, they choose yet again a way that punishes some people & rewards others.

  3. "Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country."

  4. On a side note,freezing,down to £2.97 on gas 17 tins of bean's 2 with not know how long I will be able to stand this life of luxury...hope the neighbour will not figure out I am hijacking the internet...Bloody freezing.

    1. The contracts for the work programme are shrouded in a cloak of commercial confidentiality secrecy. The black-box approach results that those forced to participate in the work programme have no idea what they can or cannot refuse to do. Now the government is refusing to disclose which private businesses are using free unemployed labour, supplied by the work programme providers. Am I the only one who is thinking that this all sounds reminiscent of the way things were done under the communists in the Soviet Union?

  5. I can only conclude this governments actions are antisocial and lack a good deal of moral responsibility. If we examine the WP, it is a gross waste and misspending of public monies that is it seems worse than doing nothing, nowt, zip, zilch, nil, nada! This is the only conclusion one can glean from a program which under this governments own set target of 5.5%, only achieved a paltry 3.5%! Worse in fact than if the sorry scheme did not actually exist!

    They introduce the WP, an antisocial program in the way it affects many of its clients (not that the ND /FND were really any better). Government ministers themselves are also without moral responsibility and social conscience as they flatly refuse to acknowledge the ineffectiveness of their flagship schemes. When challenged with the shockingly bad data results, far from an apology we instead get ministers sugar coating failure with another set of data designed to confuse, mislead and bamboozle the public and media alike. Thankfully, their efforts were largely in vain.

    We have to cut the deficit government ministers and their supporters cry. However, how does wasting £5bn+ achieve this? More to the point, as long as I can remember, right wing Tories, as with their Republican counterparts in the US have been banging on about small government and how govt spending needs to get down to below 40%, recession or not. The problem is, slashing public services has an impact on private businesses as they have direct and indirect contracts with local authorities. Secondly, people employed by local authorities still need to eat, drink, drive, socialise, replace household items, buy new clothes, etc. Private companies are just not replacing these jobs on a like for like basis. Little wonder that the likes of Peacocks and Comet go to the wall!

    As for civil unrest. Well, last year's riots in my view was prising the lid of a pressure cooker slightly. Whilst not condoning the deaths and arson, I can appreciate at least frustration that led to some of the disturbance. I live in an area that was hit by rioting on two occasions in the 1980's, '81 and '87. They were considered race riots (even though there was a mixture of black and white faces taking part).

    The 2011 riots may have been initially sparked by a police shooting a man in Tottenham,, London. And yes, many condemn the looting that took place. However, what I have yet to hear from Cameron, May, Johnson and Clegg is why these riots spread from city to city, town to town across England. Many dismissed such incidents as copycat action. However, such dismissal is done at one's peril in my view.

    This government is not a particular warm or kindly looking one. It is made up of (in my opinion) rather cold sounding and emotionless individuals. An increasing number of people, whether in work or not probably feel things are going to remain bleak for some time to come. Worse still, with regards to tougher benefits rules and sanctions, people may, just may feel they have no hope. No hope in themselves or in the future. Take that away from someone, and what does he or she have left? They may well ask themselves, why should I conform? Why should I play ball?

    I am normally an optimistic soul. However, I do have grave misgivings about the direction this country is moving. Sadly, it is with full compliance of an ever fearful and easily led public.

  6. Remember the Welfare State is not just uunemployment benefit IT IS EVERYTHING!!! Working tax credit, child benefit, maternity pay, sickness at work, the NHS, social housing, the state pension. I would also include free education.

    We ALL rely on the welfare state!!! Some more than others, but without it the social and economic condition of the poor AND THE MIDDLE CLASSES would would deteriorate markedly.

    How would the middle-classes be able to afford to send their kids to school, pay their doctors/hospital fees, save for a pension? They couldn't.

    When the welfare state was created in 1945 all the above was considered and improved.

    Those people who support the govt in attacking the unemployed are allowing the principle on which the welfare state was created to be undermined i.e. the idea that THE STATE should tackle poverty and provide certain basic services eg. housing, medical care, schooling. WE ALL RELY ON THE STATE TO PROVIDE THESE!!!

    1. The welfare state was created in 1948, not 1945.


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".