Monday, 27 May 2013

Playing games with welfare

The Telegraph has just put up an article which shows just how cynical the political games have become, as people's lives are used as counters by Iain Duncan Smith and others.  He has offered to cut another £3bn from the welfare bill in order to protect the armed forces.  This would mean, it's thought, revisiting the cuts which were proposed by the Tories and blocked by the Lib Dems; restricting housing benefit for the under-25s and limiting payments to people with more than two children.  The game works like this: further down we read, "A senior Conservative source said: 'It is now a simple choice, Iain Duncan Smith has offered a deal which will protect the country’s security. The Liberal Democrats will block it — and it will be for them to explain why it is more important for teenagers to be given council flats rather than for the nation and its citizens to be protected.'"  Under-25s have become "teenagers", versus the armed forces who are protecting the nation.  It's hardly subtle.  But: "The Lib Dems have indicated that they will not allow working-age handouts to be reduced again unless the Conservatives drop their opposition to means-testing some benefits paid to pensioners, including the winter fuel allowance."  So that's the other part of the game; hit those of working age or hit pensioners, which do you want?

If you're wondering where all this is going to end up, the Guardian has a disturbing article on the growth of food banks.  Read the whole thing to find the answer; as charities take over from the state, the state - including mainstream society - doesn't feel the need to address the root cause of hardship and poverty, and the foodbanks become part of what an academic calls "a secondary food system for the poor".

It occurred to me today that we haven't heard any more about what appeared to be inevitable a year or two ago; the privatisation of Jobcentre Plus.  Could it be that government realised that the bidders would be the very same companies which were failing so dismally with the Work Programme?


  1. Seems like The Quiet Man might be using Kim Il Camerloon's short holiday to launch a putsch.

  2. ... the Coalition won't want to put the roll-out of UC in further jeopardy by privatising JCP outright and en bloc in the short term. It would be too risky.

    my guess would be that a "localisation" of JCP will be announced in June - as part of the current spending review - which would link JCP offices with local authorities. This would bring the administration of HB/CTB alongside UC (correcting a widely noted weakness in the current system)and create bite-sized operational chunks which could then be easily privatised a little further along the road.

    such an arrangement would also offer the WP providers a steady stream of non-outcome-related income streams in the future through delivery of bread-and-butter JCP functions, like signing people on.

    they're never going to break even on payments for getting people into work - and the WP delivery network must now be at risk. the Coalition need a pretext for giving them more money: localisation.

    as regards further benefits cuts, they're coming! it's just a question of time really.

    1. Save for the fact that most local authorities would rather burn their town hall around themselves than be associated with the JCP, yet alone combined.

    2. Lots of local authorities already work with JCP and have done for years.

  3. Cannon fodder for the army? no benifits and desparate measures are called for. join the army? or is that plan by goverment?

  4. The whole dirty business is laid out in the fact that the WP providers are paid £14000 for finding a disabled person a job. Incapacity benefit is £5000 pa. Let's get real about the cuts. They're not cuts. They have no intention of leaving even a rump of welfare recipients, just lives to be managed & ruined for more money than the actual benefits so called "saved" by the likes of A4e and G4S.

  5. Although the offer of a £3bn cut seems compatible with what appears to be one of IDS's unspoken but core beliefs (you can motivate the poor by making them more poor), I see this as an early skirmish in the 2015 election. Just as they did with Labour and the benefits uprating bill, they're offering the Lib Dem's the opportunity to portray themselves as the scrounger's friend. Vote Conservative if you want bobbies on the beat and shiny new UCAVs; vote Lib Dem if you watch "Skint" and like what you see.

    The proposal to largely withdraw HB from under-25s is absolutely horrendous, in all seriousness though. Says something about the way many Conservatives view the world, and who they're happy to harm to make a party political point.

  6. The Con-Dem Government should be ashamed! up until just 8 weeks ago it was possible for struggling families ( and single people) to simply Telephone for a crisis loan when they found themselves with nowhere to turn, now we see food banks turning people away and the only option being high interest payday loans. i would be surprised if IDS had shares in wonga!


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