Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ian Duncan Smith's Welfare Reforms: Three Big Flaws

It is totally and utterly pointless to train, motivate and force claimants to seek work, and to  facilitate their passage into said employment if there is no bleeding work out there for  them to take up.

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 Benefits will be withdrawn for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 first problem is that this stick will be in force before the "carrot" - the tapering of loss of benefit - is in place. This means that for two or three years, people will find they have no choice but to work for less money than they are currently getting. IDS has put the cart of compulsion before the horse of rationalisation. This is likely to make people frustrated and angry, which could in turn lead to replication of the scenes we saw at Millbank yesterday. 

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.
IDS' reforms get only 2 our of 3 problems right, and there are important details that are not well thought through.


Anonymous said...

Briefly re: only 30% of new jobs created under Labour going to Britons.

It's actually closer to 50% - the 70% figure excludes public sector jobs and people over retirement age.

DocRichard said...

Thanks for the helpful information. Memo to self ALWAYS check every bit of information supplied by a conservative in the course of an argument.

However, we still have a problem with the 50% non-uptake. I will look at your links.


Anonymous said...

Do you know that if there is a job notified to Jobcentreplus say in Wimbledon, then advisers will sub that job to claimants (and you cannot refuse to apply for it without risking a sanction for failing to avail yourself of a 'job opportunity')up to a limit usually of 290 subs. I have seen on printouts where these limits have been reached and the job withdrawn.
So Jobcentreplus alone is forcing 290 applications for that job--routinely.


DocRichard said...

Which is pointless toil for the claimants, and also a burden on employers as they sift through the applications looking for the lucky winner. Madness.

Anonymous said...

work makes you free

don't you know?

Anon 37.1

DocRichard said...

The Nazi lie should not be taken as the final solution to the question of work. Defined as a way of increasing order in our environment, work becomes a very interesting concept, not least because it rules out explosives and fossil fuels.