Thursday, 11 November 2010

the next hammer falls

Ministers are to set out how they plan to overhaul the benefits system to provide greater incentives for work and sanctions for those unwilling to do so.

Central to the plan, being announced by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, is a single universal credit which replaces work-related benefits.

Claimants moving into work will keep more of their income than now, but face losing benefits if they refuse a job.

A sliding scale of sanctions will see those refusing work on three occasions having their benefits taken away for three years.

Wow. They are trying to increase the crime rate? They must be. Withdrawing benefits completely from losers is just bound to create a problem with rage and crime.

Seriously - how many unemployed people would 'refuse work 3 times'? It sounds like a sick joke when the government is furiously sacking people as quickly and ruthlessly as it dare. What work is there to refuse? This is a cruel joke?

The 2nd Chief Comedian, the LibDem leader, reportedly says 'the coalition's welfare changes will "reduce worklessness" in more than 300,000 families.'

What is 'worklessness'? I was surprised to find google return some results - seemingly all from British Government websites though. Here's their definition:
Worklessness is a less familiar term than unemployment to describe those who are economically inactive. The economically inactive are people of working age who are not working, not in full-time education or training and are not actively seeking work.

Many are outside the labour market voluntarily, because of family responsibilities or early retirement for example. It can also include those who are out of work because of illness. Such people may be claiming Incapacity Benefit (IB) or Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA).
So being sick or looking after someone who is sick is 'worklessness': are the government saying they will make these people better, or force them to get jobs? It is already doing that......

This whole revision of Welfare is surely just an excuse to smash the system and pay welfare claimants even less. And who will organise the riots of the ill and sick?

We need a National Union of Worklessness-ers.

From the ONS -
For the three months to June 2010, for those households with dependent children, 39.7 per cent of lone parent households were workless, 5.4 percent of couple households were workless.... Of those households without dependent children, 36.8 per cent ofone-person households were workless...
And again:
In 2009, there were three areas across the UK where more than three out of every 10 households had no-one in work, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics on workless households by local area. These were: Liverpool (32.1 per cent); Nottingham (31.3 per cent); and Glasgow City (31.0 per cent). The next highest rates of worklessness were in Gwent Valleys (27.6 per cent) and East Ayrshire and North Ayrshire Mainland (also 27.6 per cent). By contrast, the analysis shows that the five areas with the lowest rates of worklessness were: Bedfordshire (9.2 per cent); Surrey (10.9 per cent); Inverness and Nairn and Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey (11.0 per cent); Berkshire (11.2 per cent); and Hampshire (11.7 per cent).


The Guardian is excellent on this:

A tougher-than-expected squeeze on the unemployed is to be announced today as the jobless face the threat of losing all benefits for as long as three years if they refuse community work or the offer of a job, or fail to apply for a job if advised to do so.

In the most severe welfare sanctions ever imposed by a British government, unemployed people will lose benefits for three months if they fail to take up one of the options for the first time, six months if they refuse an offer twice, and three years if they refuse an offer three times.

Downing Street sources said the new "claimant contract" will come into force as soon as legislation is passed, and may not wait for the introduction of a streamlined universal credit system in 2013-14.

Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, will tell MPs that he is introducing the biggest shakeup of the welfare system since the Beveridge reforms ushered in the welfare state after the second world war. He will say that a new universal credit system will make 2.5 million of the poorest people better off and reduce the number of workless households by 300,000.

The welfare white paper is deemed so groundbreaking that David Cameron chose to laud the measures as he landed at the G20 summit in South Korea.

He said: "The message is clear. If you can work then a life on benefits will no longer be an option. If people are asked to do community work they will be expected to turn up. If people are asked to apply for a job by an adviser they will be expected to put themselves forward. If people can work and they are offered work, they will be expected to take it. This is the deal. Break the deal and they will lose their unemployment benefit. Break it three times and they will lose it for three years."

The regime will apply to all 1.6 million jobseeker's allowance claimants, irrespective of how long they have been unemployed. JSA is worth only £64.45 a week for over-25s, and No 10 said it expected the sanction to be enforced, once warranted, as a matter of course.

Job advisers should not use discretion to let people stay on benefit, Downing Street said, arguing that too many advisers do not make use of the sanctions available to them.

The new workfare regime is certain to be criticised for expecting the jobless to take work at a time when unemployment is forecast to rise. The move could potentially leave thousands of people receiving no benefits other than some money to cover their housing costs.

Many charities and local government leaders will be wary of offering work to unemployed people, especially if they have been in effect forced to take the work or lose benefit. The community jobs set aside for the jobless include clearing up litter and doing charity work.

Cameron argues that the new regime is necessary to prevent a dependency culture. He believes a new universal credit system bringing together tax credits and a range of benefits simplifies the system so much that it will ensure work will always pay in comparison with staying unemployed. Ministers say that, with 5 million people on out-of-work benefits and almost 2 million people growing up in workless households, they have to embark on "root and branch reform".

The new universal credit, costed at £2bn for this parliament, is designed to remove the financial disincentives to work, ensuring that someone keeps a minimum 35p in every extra pound earned. Cameron said: "It simply has to pay to work. You cannot have a situation where if someone gets out of bed and goes and does a hard day's work they end up worse off. That is not fair and sends entirely the wrong message."

Duncan Smith will cast his reforms as a "once-in-a-generation" attempt to get the jobless back to work. But the man credited by Duncan Smith as his greatest influence on poverty reduction criticised the changes . Bob Holman, an academic and community worker from Glasgow who has worked for Duncan Smith's thinktank, the Centre for Social Justice, accused the work and pensions secretary of forcing people into "degrading" jobs.

Asked his opinion about Duncan Smith and his plans for welfare reform, Holman said: "Well, my view has taken a bit of a dent. When Iain came to Easterhouse in 2002, one of the things he expressed admiration for were unemployed people who were working or giving their time as volunteers to our project … now he seems to have turned that on its head.

"He seems to be regarding them with disrespect and saying you're not really a part of society. We're going to force you to do these, what are really degrading jobs, which won't equip them for anything, but in a way are punishing them for not working and in a climate in which jobs are hard to get."


So yes, it seems 'worklessness' will be overcome by compelling the 'workless' to do menial jobs that no-one will pay them a worhwhile wage to do. And 'charity work'. Handy, as the government already said it wanted charities to do more. Now we see the Big Society taking it's awful shape. And isn't it vicious. Did anyone seriously vote for this? They never mentioned any of it....

Wow, it's vicious.

"Refusing work means losing benefits" sounds like something that many people would likely agree with. But it really means "Refuse to do anything you are told to do and you lose benefits!" This isn't training people, it's marching them about to do the most menial work. It's humiliation and punishment. That bloke in the Guardian is spot-on. What a bunch of bastards.

And this is supposed to be justified/necessary on the back of economic crisis where banks and big business have been bailed out billions time and again because they fucked everything up. Everyone blames the bankers but some know different - it was all the loafers on welfare.

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