Five weeks ago, I posted on Ian Duncan Smith's welfare reforms, welcoming his simplification of the system, and his aim of making work pay. I put in a submission to his consultation, showing how it could be improved and at the same time contribute to a greening of the economy.
Today the details are emerging, and the Devil's tail can be seen poking out behind more and more detail.
The most salient feature is the "stick" - withdrawal of benefit if the claimant does not take up job applications, community work or any job offered. Benefits will be withdrawn for
- 3months on first refusal
- 6months on second refusal
- 3years on 3rd refusal
The second problem is that the unpaid community work is indistinguishable (apart from the orange jackets) from Community Payback carried out by offenders. Notionally then, unemployment is identified in the Tory mind with criminality. This is not right. There should be some kind of distinction, with the unemployed being given some kind of remuneration for their community work.
A third problem is that street cleaners, for instance, could find themselves made redundant, and then compelled to do their old work for nothing. Intolerable.
I am not doing the knee jerk opposition to IDS' reforms. In my opinion,
- Long term unemployment IS a problem.
- People are missing out by being unable to work, because work generally improves health.
- There is no place for unemployment in a green economy, because there is so much good work to be done.
- There is a training problem in that of the 4 million jobs were created under Labour, only about 30% were taken up by British citizens.