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Back on the Chain Gang

November 8, 2010

The government has announced that it wants to “encourage” people into work by a carrot and stick method. The carrot is a reformed benefit system that means that just doing a little work will mean that you’ll be getting more money than just signing on. Part of me is worried that this means that benefits will be cut to well below that required to live on, but I’ve seen no evidence for this – I’m just a massive cynic.

What about the stick? Here’s Ian Duncan Smith’s suggestion.

 “One thing we can do is pull people in to do one or two weeks’ manual work – turn up at 9am and leave at 5pm, to give people a sense of work, but also when we think they’re doing other work.

“The message will go across; play ball or it’s going to be difficult.”

How, precisely, can a couple of weeks of manual work help me get a job? I’m not aiming for a job in a manual sector, Kits aren’t built for manual work. Kits can barely stay stood up for an hour at a time. But, of course, I’m not ill enough to count as incapacitated…

Also, this would lead to people working through this scheme for far less than minimum wage. While there are probably some legal loopholes that would allow such a scheme to occur, it would lead to people working on this scheme undercutting people in actual employment. If councils, other public bodies and potentially even private companies were able to take on the unemployed at reduced rates, this would lead to fewer jobs being avaliable.

My final problem with this is that it isn’t typically the long-term unemployed that need carrots and sticks. I’m trying to get a job, I’m trying as hard as I can! The labour party says that there are 5 times as many unemployed as vacancies, and given that I just don’t have much experience – due to my age, and the fact that I can’t find a job – I’m always low down in the pile. It is the employer who needs carrots and sticks, if anyone, but there’s just not enough vacancies out there for everyone who wants work.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2010 06:33

    I think you have reason to be cynical, Kit. It’s not like either of our governments has really got a very good track record with regards to these matters. Over on my side of the pond I was just complaining to my professor about how our government has basically created a packaged deal where they give you an amount of money that they, themselves acknowledge isn’t enough to really live on and then find people that they qualify as incapable of doing outside work and give it to them while forbidding them from supplementing their income… all while knowing full well that their lives are more expensive than the average person’s.

    It’s brilliant…

    The fact that your government would then be able to negate the moral responsibility of fully supporting their benefactors (if you can call them that) is genius! The circular logic is simply dizzying: “We have identified these individuals who are unable to secure employment and we will give them not enough to live on unless they gain supplementary income by gaining employment!”

    • November 10, 2010 12:49

      Also, the government seems to think that the only people who are claiming benefits long-term are the people who are exploiting the system somehow. So, anything the government does to make things more difficult for the people who don’t deserve benefits in their eyes, will affect those of us who really need them more.

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