School children will face Jobcentre harassment from the age of 15 whilst claimants thought to have drug and alcohol problems will be paid benefits on smart cards if the Tories win the next election said Iain Duncan Smith in his speech to the party’s conference today.
18-21 year old who cannot find a job are to be placed on permanent workfare, whilst further caps on Housing Benefits will see yet more cities become unaffordable for anyone currently unable to work – whether this is through sickness, disability, high unemployment or having young children to care for. And if this wasn’t enough then benefits are to be frozen for two years, meaning a real term cut in the incomes of the UK’s poorest people, whether they are in or out of work.
The smart cards will be for people Iain Duncan Smith thinks have fallen into a “damaging spiral” and are spending all their money on drugs, alcohol and gambling. Whilst details so far are scant, it seems likely to be similar to the Australian Basics Card which aims to control how benefit recipients spend their money. The scheme has already proved hugely expensive and has led to people unable to shop at cheaper stores such as Aldi, who government officials say do not meet the “set criteria”. Predictably Basics Cards have not prevented claimants buying drugs, alcohol or tobacco. In the UK it is likely to stop people who have genuine problems with drugs or alcohol from seeking treatment in case the Jobcentre find out. It is a stupid idea, as unworkable as it is callous. You can see why it would appeal to a nasty fucking idiot like Iain Duncan Smith.
Permanent workfare for 18-21 year old is equally draconian, and equally unworkable – so unworkable that it was actually first announced in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement last year and then never implemented. Already there isn’t enough workfare to go round, and with resistance to workfare showing no signs of dying down, there will be few community organisatins willing to take part in such an explitative programme. Meanwhile sending Jobcentre busybodies to harass schoolchildren when they should be studying for their GCSE’s and aren’t likely to be looking for a job or eligible for benefits for two or three years seems little more than a waste of everybody’s time.
With Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms unravelling in all directions and poverty not seen in generations returning to haunt the UK, there was nothing in his conference speech to suggest he has learnt anything from his failure. The scary thing is, he thinks he is doing a wonderful job – even still pretending that Universal Credit will eventually be rolled out across the country. Yet across the UK millions of people are facing a Winter where they will face the bleak choice between heating or eating and many will not be able to afford either.
It is horrifying that the Tories seem to think they can win an election by making poor people poorer. Perhaps more frightening is that the Labour Party have eagerly embraced this vile competion to attack and scapegoat those with nothing. Whoever wins the next election it will be down to us – unemployed claimants, disabled people, parents and low waged precarious workers – to fight these bastards. It will be the struggle that defines the neo-liberal age as capitalism run rampant drives people into the the ground in the name of making more profit for the rich. We must continue to fight, and we must win.
Then join the week of action against workfare next week and support the Focus E15 mums fighting for decent housing for all of us – for more details follow them @E15OpenHouse or on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Focus-E15-Mothers/602860129757343
This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.
Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid