Friday, August 12, 2011

Is it a good idea to withdraw benefits from convicted rioters?

(This brochure came through the post today)
In response to the riots, the Government ePetitions site has had 141,028 votes for  the proposition
"Convicted London rioters should loose (sic) all benefits".
Responsible department: Department for Work and Pensions
Any persons convicted of criminal acts during the current London riots should have all financial benefits removed. No tax payer should have to contribute to those who have destroyed property, stolen from their community and shown a disregard for the country that provides for them.

>100,000 signatures means that the proposition could be debated in Parliament.
Let's just think this through.

If a criminal has no job & no benefit, s/he has 3 options: starve, beg, or rob.
Being criminal, the latter (robbery) is most likely. Being caught also offers chance of prison, which is an attractive option to being homeless and starving.

Therefore cutting off benefits is going to incur the folllowing costs: NHS (if robbery victim is assaulted, and also for the resulting stress disorder in the victim), police time, court time, and prison time. These costs far exceed monies saved in benefit payments.

Cutting benefits is a very expensive option for us in times of austerity, and we can be sure that Gideon will block it. If he has any sense at all.

What has happened here is that the anger of the rioters has created anger in the tabloid reading public, and come up with a solution that would simply make things worse.

Galling though it is that rioters should continue to receive benefits, this is one place where it is reasonable to consider workfare: the convicted rioter (and other miscreants) could be required to work for their benefit, for a defined period of time. 

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