So the Conservative Party Conference is underway, and they have already announced some proposals for the welfare system. To re-cap on the things we should have at the heart of new manifestos read last week’s post here.
Yesterday, Chancellor George Osborne announced the Conservative Party would introduce new measures requiring the long-term unemployed to work for the dole, should they be elected in 2015. But this is another policy doomed to fail, and it is about time we started to confront the incompetence of the current ones.
The long-term unemployed will be required to ‘work for the dole,’ including doing things such as helping the elderly, community service, picking up litter and removing graffiti. Others will be required to attend the job-centre every working day, and some will have to accept help with literary skills or drug and alcohol problems.
No surprise that this was a policy put forward by the TaxPayer’s Alliance, who, by their name (and their byline) seem like a grassroots community of ordinary taxpayers, but as we discussed in the post ‘10 Reasons why the TaxPayer’s Alliance and their ‘Work For The Dole’ policy is misleading‘, there are several reasons to suggest otherwise, including their secrecy over funding and the fact that one of their directors was previously exposed as having never paid British Tax, and living in France.
Anyway, the general problems with this policy are:
1) Forms of ‘workfare’ do not work. This has been proved time and time again. They can restrict potential employees from finding work and so actually hinder chances rather than help them.
2) This can lower the value and number of jobs available in certain sectors, meaning that free work is replacing paid work. And also, this goes against the rules for paying a minimum wage, and de-values work further.
3) Whilst support is welcomed, particularly for those struggling with drug and alcohol problems, forcing people to visit the job-centre everyday could also be detrimental, and financially unviable if there is no help with transport each day.
— Shirley (@shirleykay11) September 30, 2013
For me, job centre everyday means bus fare will be £25pw out of £71pw minus bedroomtax £14 leaving me £32pw to eat, heat and clothe #cpc13
— SLACK_TV (@SLACK_TV) September 30, 2013
Further, the scarcity of jobs continues to plague towns and cities up and down the country. Whilst George Osborne is filling his speeches with the notion that the recovery is here, it is not being felt by most, and there are still many stories where hundreds of applicants are applying for a small number of jobs. Without the jobs to go to, the harder line on claimants seems punishing.
And the current government have not had much success with their previous policies, and at great expense. The Work Programme, costing in excess of £5bn, has left 90% of those involved without work after twelve months. In actual fact, in half of Work Programme areas, you are more likely to get a job if you don’t take part. This doesn’t seem fair on the taxpayer or the claimant.
And Iain Duncan Smith seems to be making a habit of frittering money away on welfare policies which simply do not work. He was called before MPs the other week to explain the shambles behind the Universal Credit system. IDS then told the MPs that £40m would have to be struck off due to IT problems. A few days later it was found to be over £160m.
And where is IDS? Why isn’t he delivering the speech on the work and welfare policies, being Minister of Work and Pensions and all. According to the Guardian, IDS was advised by civil servants that he would not be able to legally introduce secondary legislation to make it even more difficult for the sick and disabled to claim benefits. The minister wants to give the job-centre further power and give claimants further tasks to prove they are doing what they can to look for work, but he cannot introduce this as secondary legislation (which would not need a parliamentary vote) because to get people found unfit to work to HAVE to look for work, there would need to be new primary legislation. And this is all getting in the way of party time too:
“The revelation comes as the DWP told the Guardian it had indefinitely postponed a week-long staff “celebration” of a new, tougher sanctions regime for more than a million job seekers.
In a separate memo also leaked to the Guardian, staff and organisations involved in delivering the failing Work Programme, were due to start “conditionality week” on Monday. The event, according to the memo , is “about celebrating how far we have come since new tougher sanction levels were introduced last year … and about helping us smooth the way for universal credit, working better together and making sure we apply the rules consistently and fairly”.”
by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass