Since I did not comment on the announced measures to undercut the wages of council staff and treat the unemployed like criminals by the
Tories sorry, I mean “New Labour”, let me reproduce the following from the Tribune:
Tories cheer Purnell as union calls welfare plan ‘worse than Thatcher’
by René Lavanchy
GOVERNMENT plans to abolish incapacity benefit and income support will stigmatise the unemployed and not help them back to work, unions warned this week.
Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell’s green paper on welfare reform, which he hopes will enable the Government to take one million people off incapacity benefitby using the private and voluntary sectors, has been warmly welcomed by business leaders and the Conservatives.
But the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents the Jobcentre Plus staff that would have to implement much of the plan, said the proposals were “draconian” and go “further than even Margaret Thatcher dared”, while the TUC warned that proposals to make benefit claimants do community work could threaten the jobs of those already in employment.
The green paper, which Mr Purnell promised MPs would “make sure a life on benefits is not an option”, fulfils the Government’s long-stated aim to accept the recommendations of welfare adviser David Freud, who says that private companies can be paid up to £61,000 a head to help people back into work.
It would require all those claiming jobseeker’s allowance for over a year to be handed over to an “outside provider” – a private or voluntary contractor – paid by results. After two years, claimants would have to perform full-time work, such as community service, while looking for a job.
Incapacity benefit claimants would be forced onto the jobseeker’s allowance if a medical examination found that they were ready to work. However, benefits for the most incapacitated would rise from £86 to £102.
The green paper also plans to progressively cut the maximum age for a child whose parent can claim income support, from 16 currently to seven by 2010.
The Conservatives have promised their support for the plans and told Mr Purnell – who denies that the Government “triangulates” to occupy Tory policy ground – that they proposed many similar measures in a green paper this year. Peter Lilley, Social Security Secretary under John Major, said: “I welcome him announcing policies that I originally enunciated ahead of the 1997 election”.
Responding to the paper, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber criticised the plans to make long-term claimants work: “Workfare policies do nothing to benefit wider society. The economy needs more people in real jobs with real wages to spend, boosting the economy and creating more jobs. And workers in low paid jobs could well be replaced by workfare claimants leading them to lose their jobs in turn.”
Kate Green, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “The green paper gives great attention to increasing individual responsibility but ignores the responsibilities of employers to open up access to decent jobs. Bad employers must now be the urgent target for welfare reform.”