It’ll never workfare

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.”


One Response to “It’ll never workfare”

  1. Derek Says:

    Everything about the Freud report is suspect.

    Freud says as many as two out of three people on Incapacity Benefit are fit for work. Does anybody know how he came to this conclusion? What calculations did he make based on what data gathered by whom and where?

    Early on in New Labour’s first term in government Gordon Brown said, “Work must pay.” Yet now he seems to be delighted to force the unemployed to work for Jobseeker’s Allowance currently less than £61.00 per week. What is going on here? What about the minimum wage? One person picking up litter might be paid the minimum wage of £229.20 per week to pick up litter while the unemployed person serving a sentence of community punishment of workfare will receive £60.50 per week! And Job Clubs? How many jobs are there in the economy that can keep men and women busy for 40 hours a week applying for them?

    I am willing to bet that men and women on government schemes, e.g., workfare, will not be counted as officially unemployed and will disappear from the monthly head count of the jobless, which may explain why the government is currently rushing that bloodless little golem James Purnell’s welfare reform bill through parliament as we speak.

    It’s shameful shabby politics on the part of the Labour Party, but it is at least consistent.

    The Labour Party is over folks.

    The last person to leave should turn out the light and slam the door shut.


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