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Wednesday, January 02, 2013


bash the poor

i always had a sneaking regard for iain duncan smith, especially when he became that caring compassionate conservative who wanted to make the lot of the poor and dispossessed better.

oops bit of a mistake on my part, but then i have never been that good at judging a person's character.

in principle i have no problems with the idea of a universal credit, a benefit system that is simple to use would be a dream come true. a system in which those who were in need of benefits were told what they were entitled to by people who knew what they were talking about. which is not quite the case at the moment.
in principle i have no problem with workfare, anything that helps make unemployed more employable is a good thing providing it is being done properly - there is little point in taking a graduate who is doing voluntary work in a job sector they are interested and have them stacking shelves in a poundland or charity shop. workfare shouldn't be about providing companies with a cheap work force it should be about enabling the unemployed to gain skills they need to move out of benefits and into paid permanent full-time employment.

the whole shirkers vs strivers debate is about bashing the poor.
the attacks on 'benefit culture' is always couched in terms of those who are feckless and unemployed, even though large bulk of benefit spend is on pensions, and that is quickly followed by the benefits being paid out to the working poor.

such an amazing phrase: the working poor.
think about it.
say it out loud a few times.
think about it some more.
then shout it out: the working poor.

the working poor - are those people who have a job, but are not earning enough to get by on without receiving state benefits. these are the very strivers that cameron, osborne, duncan smith et al are praising. matters not they are also going to get hit by the con/dem changes because ideology must always triumph over commonsense.

the much smaller cohort of benefit claimants who are just getting jobseekers allowance (jsa) are currently under attack. the recipients of jsa are shirkers. they are sitting at home doing nothing living large on their ever increasing benefits. look the the daily mail and the sun say so: it must be true.
today's headline was all about the increase. jsa has gone up by 20% in the last 5 years, while private sector earnings have only gone up by 12% in the same period. a person on the dole has almost seen their money increase twice as much as someone in work.

many years ago around this time we were having the usual talk about christmas bonuses, and nick, an old colleague, argued that those who got paid less should get a bigger percentage bonus because they were paid less than we were. he was right - it isn't about the percentages it's about what you get.

jsa going up 20% in 5 years is an approximate increase of £12, or to look at it another way it is just under two hours work at minimum pay. that 20% means that jsa is now the kingly sum of £71pw. living large.

the con/dems want to make work pay. most people would agree with them - that work should pay and that each and every worker is entitled to a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. to me it seems that the conservatives are more interested in making work pay by making sure that people who are in receipt of benefits can't afford to have a very basic level of subsistence.

very few people stay on the dole because it is nice and comfortable, most people are on the dole because there is no work for them to do. cut benefits back as much as you like and that won't change the fact that without the jobs there people can't actually become employed.

not that it matter to cameron, osborne and duncan smith - they are relatively well paid by the state so that they can provide one sided solutions to a very tough problem.

i used to think that maybe iain duncan smith had it in him to at least go some of the way to creating a system that might have worked to cut the number of unemployed while giving support to those that need it. in the end he has turned out to be just the same as cameron and osborne: blinded by ideology and trapped in a vision of a world that doesn't exist. 

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