Skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban’s speech to the Policy Exchange today, which was thankfully interrupted by campaigners from Boycott Workfare (see video below), shows it is still full steam ahead on the welfare reform gravy train.
Rarely has so much utter bullshit been proposed with a straight face as private sector vultures circle around the DWP in the hope of scrounging ever more tax payers cash as part of the lucrative welfare reform racket.
Hoban was speaking as the results are published of the DWP’s consultation exercise to help them come up with new ideas to bully part-time workers off in-work benefits. When Universal Credit is finally launched, all claimants unable to secure full time jobs will have to continually look for ‘more or better paid work’ or have benefits stopped.
The ideas suggested in the consultation by and large come from poverty pimps such as G4S, Working Links and A4e and can be roughly summarised as give us more money. A string of ideas are proposed to “increase claimants motivation and break the inertia of low pay, support self employment and address particular barriers that prevent people from working more.”
As anyone who has ever attended any form of welfare-to-work training knows, what this means in practice is some jumped up twat spouting the latest the buzzwords at you for an afternoon and then threatening to stop your benefits. One proposal even seems to suggest that current employers should help their workers find better paid jobs elsewhere showing what a shocking lack of awareness of the modern workforce these so called experts possess. Predictably workfare and benefit sanctions lie behind many of the proposals.
Astonishingly Lord Fraud, who also gave a speech today, claims that the DWP will use an evidence based approach in future when handing out bucket loads of cash to the welfare-to-work sector. However it seems that the very clear evidence that has emerged – that workfare doesn’t work, that benefit sanctions do little more than drive people into poverty, and that the payments by results Work Programme model is an unmitigated disaster – is to be completely ignored.
When Lord Fraud talks about evidence he means anything that fits his warped view of the world which is that unemployed people are responsible for unemployment. In this transparent fantasy, all low paid workers need is some career coaching, mentoring, or online calculators to show them how better off they would be if they had more money – and they will be swept up into the lower middle classes to lead a life of financial independence free from the burden of Housing Benefit.
Of course there are no proposals to encourage employers to pay better wages, or even to create more jobs. And it is this that blows a hole a mile wide in Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms. Even if this stuff works – and it doesn’t, hasn’t and never will – all it will do is displace other workers. Not one new job will be created by these proposals. For every part time worker who increases their hours, another goes without a job. Unemployment is still as high as it was in the pits of the first recession despite two and a half years of bungled welfare reforms.
Iain Duncan Smith doesn’t just think that he can magically fix unemployment, but also seems to believe that everyone can have a great well paid job. Except he doesn’t really believe this at all.
The real reason for these reforms is not to bring down unemployment or to encourage employers to pay higher wages and give people more hours. It is not even to bring down the benefit bill – these reforms are coming at an astronomical cost to the tax payer.
The intention is to create a society of isolated individuals constantly in competition with each other for the scraps thrown down from above. It is not enough anymore to be a parent raising a child and working part time – or even full time on low wages. We are to be expected to be in a constant state of competition with our neighbour for their slightly better paid job. The notion of workers acting together to improve wages and conditions is abandoned in favour of a vicious rat race – all watched over by profiteering sharks like A4e – ever ready to plunge someone into poverty and even homelessness if they don’t fight hard enough.
This is not class war as waged by Thatcher – when the violence of the state was used to strengthen the position of rich employers in a string of set piece industrial conflicts. This an attempt to create internal class war within the working class by ramping up competition between ourselves and making any escape impossible. Instead of opposing those who profit from our labour, we are forced to fight each other in a desperate competition just to have even the essentials of life.
Those who can’t make the grade, whether through illness, disability, life circumstances or even simple bad luck are to be plunged into homelessness or forced to work unpaid as an example of what might happen to the rest of us. Meanwhile the jeering gutter press will whip up hatred towards those at the bottom, labelling them scroungers at best or fraudsters, criminals, and now potential child murderers at worst.
This ruthlessly individualist climate is how businesses – and many charities who have been well and truly suckered along for the ride – can happily trot out inhuman suggestions such as forcing those in part-time work to attend unpaid ‘work experience’ in the hours they aren’t working as suggested in this consultation. This is why it seems perfectly acceptable to these scum to discuss how parents should be mandated to attend bullshit training sessions to help them find ‘more or better paid work’ late in the evenings, at weekends, or early in the morning. This is how even claimants judged too unwell to work by their own GPs are now forced into the endless and stressful cycle of assessments, benefit cuts and even workfare. Get a job at Tesco or die trying is the gangster inspired mantra of modern capitalism.
And of course the chortling toffs attempting to engineer this brutal competition know the game is more rigged than ever before. Public schools, elite universities, internships, inheritances and trust funds will see to that. There’s more chance of winning the lottery then ending up like Alan Sugar or Katie Price – and you’re more likely to die tomorrow than ever win the lottery.
One of the most revealing proposals to this consultation being considered by the DWP is that: “Jobcentre Plus could facilitate work experience moves by back-filling any temporary vacancies created with other jobseekers”.
They are nakedly suggesting that part-time formerly paid jobs should be filled with people on benefits forced to work without pay. This will increase, not decrease unemployment as the tax payer, meaning us, pays for part time supermarket worker’s wages – except they don’t even get wages. Workfare has long been rightly attacked for reducing the number of real jobs available – it now seems amongst some that this is an aspiration.
The Tories would have us believe that people being forced to work for the pittance they receive on benefits is a popular idea. This consultation reveals a hint of the end result of this policy, which is less for all of those on low incomes, whether in work or not. Those who approve of forced work for claimants should ask themselves if they are prepared to give up their own job so that an unemployed person can do it. And if the answer is no, then frankly you should shut the fuck up and not expect anyone else to do what you won’t.
A summary of the responses to the consultation can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/extending-labour-market-interventions-to-in-work-claimants
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