Misogyny, Ignorance and Guesswork at the Heart Of Pickles’ Community Strategy

Eric Pickles latest strategy to deal with troubled families is little more than a sticking plaster for Government cuts and based on crude misogyny, guesswork and complete ignorance of the problems faced by those with least.

Pickles is planning to get tough on families deemed ‘troubled’ by blaming them for situations which are entirely outside their control.  Parents with disabilities, in low paying jobs or living in poor quality housing can now expect to be blamed for their own misfortune by an army of council funded busy bodies who are to be given the power to tell them off without fear of ‘political correctness’.

According to the Government, a troubled family is to be deemed to be one that meets five out of the following seven criteria: a low income, no-one in the family in work, living in poor housing, parents with no qualifications, having a  mother who has a mental health problem, one parent with a long-standing illness or disability,or where the family is unable to afford basics, including food and clothes.

Pickles has been justifying his  latest scheme in the Independent over the weekend with a series of made up stories such as the teenage father who refuses to speak to his allegedly non-english speaking child or the mother ‘on the verge of a nervous breakdown’ because she didn’t know how to use a washing machine.

Pickles, who favourably compares himself to woman-beating racist Geoffrey Boycott, has a bit of a thing about women’s  mental health.  This may explain his patronising attitude to Caroline Flint in the House of Commons, who he refers to as ‘dear’, or be the reason he suggested a ‘charming’ female Camden Councillor should take ‘anger management classes’ for having the gall to write  him a letter.  Once again the crude misogyny at the heart of the Tory Party rears it’s ugly head.

Despite mental health services being cut to the bone, mothers (but not fathers) with mental health conditions will be singled out as especially to blame for their illness and will be told off very strongly.  This new strategy of lecturing and moralising at people whilst stripping away vital housing, healthcare and benefits will be rolled out across the country with local councils paid according to a system of crude results. The scheme has echoes of Chris Grayling’s disastrous Work Programme, which attempts to blame unemployed people for being unemployed.  Latest figures suggest that less people are finding jobs on the Work Programme than if they had been left to their own devices.

Councils will be able to claim £4000 should they find someone a job for three months, which is a reasonably heavy incentive to provide three months temporary employment themselves.  This will be a boon to the aforementioned Work Programme, who’s private contractors will also be able to pick up a fat fee should they have the individual on their books.  The factors deemed to indicate families which are troubled are so crude that it will include the vast majority of the very poorest.  Councils will be able to cherry pick people to work with from a huge base, which is no doubt why they’ve agreed to the scheme.

Unfortunately there is nothing on offer in terms of real help.  What people who are in poor quality housing need is better quality housing.  With the ruthless Housing Benefit cutting regime currently in place they will get the opposite.  Families who can’t afford basic food and clothing need more money, not benefit cuts.  Unemployed families are unlikely to prosper at a time of Tory created high unemployment, whilst there is little or no provision in the Work Programme to help those without qualifications.  Disabled parents will find themselves forced into the brackets of being a ‘troubled family’, simply because this Government has plans to strip away benefits from 20% of disabled claimants.

Meanwhile there is a real danger that families who do not fall into these groups will become sidelined and ignored as social security budgets are slashed for anyone who doesn’t fit Eric Pickles’ criteria.

Pickles claims that ‘nice people’ asked him during last year’s riots what the parents of the children involved were doing.  Pickles is right when he insists that they were not at a ‘whist club or a Sunday social’.  What he fails to understand is that many of them were probably at work.  The problems Pickles is seeking to address are far more complex than his over-worked little mind can seem to grasp.  This is why the current solutions, crude and often ineffective as they are, can appear complicated and messy and involve different agencies.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some simple solutions that could make a big difference.  Decent housing, a liveable minimum wage, the restoration of grant funded education and EMA, benefits that actually pay the bills, better funded mental health care, access to real training for unemployed people, an expansion of youth clubs and a halt to the devastating cuts in public services would all make a difference.  This Government’s policy is to pursue the very opposite, by making the poorest poorer and then seeking to blame them for their plight.

The current obsession with simplifying and streamlining services is just Tory spin meaning more cuts.  They hand out a few pence with one hand whilst laying entire cities to waste with another.  The obsession with payment by results simply means that the easiest to help are targeted, often those who didn’t even need the help in the first place.  The most vulnerable, chaotic, anti-social or indeed troubled families will be sidelined simply because there’s little chance of an ‘outcome’ payment at the end.  And what those ‘outcomes’ should actually represent are little more than what a Government minister decided on the back of an envelope that morning.

Pickles’ new strategy is a panicky and vague response to last year’s riots and was actually first announced by Cameron last Autumn.  Whilst vital public services are being decimated it will not make the slightest difference to the lives of ‘troubled families’ or the communities they live in.  Steeped as these plans are in the usual out of touch Tory dogma, shop keeper’s son Pickles may actually end up making things even worse.

12 responses to “Misogyny, Ignorance and Guesswork at the Heart Of Pickles’ Community Strategy

  1. Freedom'sNotFree

    The fucking ballon-head, these scumbag bumboys, racketeering this country are knocking me sick but I feel the tipping point is soon to come and a real revolt is inevitable.

    p.s. This site is a great source of valuable information, keep up the good work.

  2. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some simple solutions that could make a big difference. Decent housing, a liveable minimum wage, the restoration of grant funded education and EMA, benefits that actually pay the bills, better funded mental health care, access to real training for unemployed people, an expansion of youth clubs and a halt to the devastating cuts in public services would all make a difference.

    When I read this bit I felt like crying. So obvious to a caring, compassionate, advanced society. Current government are dragging our country into the dark pits of selfishness and shamefulness and eventually wickedness.

  3. Good article well said.

    The Tories will not stop their relentless attack until the poor are completely destroyed. They keep saying that “we have to compete with India and China” and they mean it. They fully intend on bringing the horrendous Third World conditions that the poor in India and China have to endure to the UK.

    Unfortunately too many British people are short-sighted, gullible and naive and are indifferent to these attacks or approve of them, because they believe everything they read in the mostly right-wing newspapers and see on tv and they believe it wont affect them or their loved ones. They will never care until it affects them and their children and not a second before.

    It’s like Frederick Douglass said “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose”.

  4. I remember Eric ‘go on then, I’ll have that last bit of pie’ Pickles from the late 1980’s when he was leader of the Tory led Bradford council. He was personally congratulated by Maggie Thatcher for delivering some of the lowest council taxes in England and Wales. He did this of course by cutting services and privatising many of them.

    “According to the Government, a troubled family is to be deemed to be one that meets five out of the following seven criteria: a low income, no-one in the family in work, living in poor housing, parents with no qualifications, having a mother who has a mental health problem, one parent with a long-standing illness or disability,or where the family is unable to afford basics, including food and clothes.”

    This makes very little if any sense. Take low income. Someone may have a low income because that’s the only job they can get. Overtime at their workplace may be rarer than water on Mars. What would pickles suggest such a person do? Resign and rely on JSA? No doubt they’d be criticised for this even more. Look for a new better paying job? Everyone else will be doing the same!

    Mother with mental health problems? Many suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Such conditions affect many people through no fault of their own. And what would Pickles say to an infantry soldier or Marine coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan having seen and experienced some pretty horrific sights? Would he make allowances for such a person suffering from trauma or would he tell them to simply snap out of it?

    Pickles like many of his cabinet colleagues is increasingly out of touch and shows not just a lack of empathy with the lives of many, but also a total devotion to a blinkered and ideological world view!

    P.S. Fine Article!

  5. So I guess by stating that families with a disabled member will be considered as problem families. I wonder, would this statement have ever been uttered had Cameron’s son Ivan still been alive.

    • Eric Greenwood

      Yes.. because they are insulated from the real world. One rule for the rich another for the poor.. These are benefit claimants not the child of the rich. It is just another punishment for the crime of being poor.

  6. If you want to work, especially in a job “created” by government, you might actually have to go to India. All the IT for Universal Credit, given to Accenture and others, has gone to India. It’s worth FIVE BILLION.
    I wonder if Pickles has neglected to mention one very important criterion for ill-health – obesity. Or doesn’t that count? Is it only relevant when the poor living on sub-standard food parcels get fat, or squander their benefits on bad cheap food from supermarkets they work in for nothing?
    In Tory world, only women get mental illness, no rich/posh people ever use drugs, only the lazy can’t get work, only poor children ever do naughty things, only people claiming benefits are responsible for the cockroach-infested middens they live in because their landlord doesn’t care, and only poor people get disabilities which they bring upon themselves for daring to be born blind/deaf/sick/ill etc and it’s all the fault of their bonkers drug addled mothers.
    There. Sorted.

  7. This week, George Smith and the Grayling will announce five billion (to add to the seven billion they’ve already wasted) to be spent on extending the Work Programme.
    Y’know, the one that doesn’t actually work, as evinced by their own research. So – they have chucked out as much taxpayers money on the WP as they pay in JSA every year.
    And we still have 2.5 million unemployed and claiming JSA, half a million on the WP hidden form the stats, another 80,000 WRAG claimants unfit for work, but, er, working, and an estimated total of 5 million chasing 400,000 mainly part-time jobs.
    Meanwhile, Tory peer Stedman-Scott gets £100,000K pa for her “charity” funded by us and Diageo the drinks giant; MillyMollyMandy has no money in her CPUK company (liabilities £185,000) or her LDC company (despite £2.5 million from the Skills Funding Agency) but she HAS got Max Clifford, a Mischon De Reya lawyer, a property portfolio, a holiday home in Spain, a Hummer, and a nightclub and boutique habit.
    Nice work if you can get it – and replicated all over the country by companies whose sole income stream is taxpayers money – A4E, anyone? – and whose bosses trouser the cash while using the poor as Daves Slaves and giving them a sarnie and a plastic poncho – or even transporting them in minibuses driven by people who have no licences and a tendency to cause near-fatal accidents.
    I intend to continue to fight with every breath in my body.
    If you look at John Prescott’s blog, you will find the address of the head of health and safety at LOCOG. I’ve written to him, and it’d be good if you did too.
    Pickles’ little endeavour will come to grief when the councils inform him that, actually, there’s no money to pay the people who are supposed to deliver it – and they have yet to implement the 70% of cuts we haven’t had yet.
    Or it’ll die a death when the first person made homeless by failing to comply with whatever the do-gooders tell ’em to do goes to the tabloids.
    God I hate them.

  8. obviously he hasn’t a clue – absolutely useless.

  9. Pickles’s definition of a troubled family was featured by More or Less as being complete bullshit.

    http://julesbirch.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/the-trouble-with-troubled-families/

  10. Pingback: Iain Duncan Smith Plans Food Stamps Scheme For Disabled Parents | the void

  11. Pingback: Iain Duncan Smith On Drugs Is Just Another Workfare Racket | the void

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