Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/543/6305

From The Socialist newspaper, 22 July 2008

Punishing the jobless for being jobless

Work and pensions secretary, James Purnell, has announced a major attack on benefits claimants in his new welfare green paper. His claim that the changes will "transform lives" will be borne out, but disgracefully it will be in a transformation for the worse for large numbers of the poorest people in society. Tory leader David Cameron heaped praise on the paper, saying that he is "thrilled" with it and that most of it will be fully supported by his party.

Judy Beishon

All 4.5 million people on 'out-of-work' benefits will be affected, as major benefits will be renamed and altered. But the main aim of the changes is to force at least one million people off out-of-work benefits altogether.

The draconian measures include forcing people to work for their paltry dole money. After one year of unemployment, claimants will have to do four weeks of work, as if they have to be punished for being out of work. After two years, they will have to work continuously for their benefits, doing work "such as community work". Previously only people with criminal convictions have been forced to do community work.

Incapacity claimants are to face potentially harrowing questioning and tests to force large numbers off benefit. They will have to have a medical check from someone other than their GP.

Single parents will have to seek work when their youngest child is seven. Drug addicts will be 'required' to have treatment. Only full time carers and the severely disabled will escape similar coercion.

If this was not bad enough, the proposals go alongside measures to increase private sector delivery of welfare, consequently reducing jobs in the public sector and ensuring that the profit motive will come before delivery of good quality services.

Purnell has thrown in some small sweeteners.

Slightly higher benefit will be given to those who get through the new incapacity tests. Money given to lone parents from ex-partners will not be deducted from their benefits. Businesses will be offered more funding to help them employ disabled people. Treatment facilities for drug addicts are to be increased.

Hypocrisy

But these limited measures will not mitigate the effects of the attacks for most claimants. One illustration of this is that funding for the access-to-work programme which presently helps 24,000 disabled people to find work or stay in work will be doubled. But a doubling means this will only potentially help around 48,000 people instead of 24,000, when the government aims to force one million off incapacity benefit.

Much higher funding measures should be introduced while leaving intact the right to claim benefits without sanctions and harassment, and while increasing benefits to a level that can be lived on. But such improvements would be completely contrary to New Labour's cuts and privatisation agenda.

If the government really wants to help people who are out of work, it would not have cut 2 billion from the Department for Work and Pensions. However, the greatest barriers to reducing unemployment are a lack of longterm, well paid jobs, decent childcare, workplace facilities for disabled people, and so on.

Ironically the government tries to dress up its proposals as part of the fight against poverty, sometimes using the slogan 'work works'. But over half of children living in poverty are in working households. Millions of people in poverty are on low wages that make them little better off than being on benefits. Where community work is needed, it should be properly paid to provide real jobs, not forced out of people for 1.60 an hour as Parnell proposes.

This green paper comes at a time when the economy is fast tipping into recession. The number of people on unemployment benefit has risen by 45,000 since the end of January and hundreds of thousands more jobs are likely to go. The Ernst and Young Item Club thinktank has described the economic outlook as a "horror movie".

With its budget deficit heading way over its forecasts, the government is determined to step up its attacks on basic benefits. The budget deficit for the first three months of the financial year was a record 20.4 billion, up 12.5 billion from the same period last year. It is set to worsen further, as the slowing economy means lower government tax receipts.

Meanwhile the super rich evade an estimated 42 billion of taxes a year and the chancellor is backing off from introducing some limited tax-avoidance measures for the top UK corporations because of their cries of alarm. Yet the cries of alarm of the poorest in society are ignored.

Hundreds of thousands of the poorest and most vulnerable people are to be made to suffer further while the super rich are left to wallow in massive luxury. This green paper must be vigorously opposed.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 22 July 2008:

Stop The Gas Price Rip-Off

Car taxes add to inflation misery


Local government strike

Build further action after successful council strike

Reports of the Unsion strike

Pictures of the Unison strike


Socialist Party workplace news

Argos workers strike against insulting pay offer

London bus drivers' protest

PCS strikes

Usdaw election


Socialist Party news and analysis

Punishing the jobless for being jobless

Bankers' dirty tricks?


International socialist news and analysis

Say no to military attack on Iran

Political impasse in the Kurdish region of Iraq

Pakistan: 50,000 textile workers strike


 

Home   |   The Socialist 22 July 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Unemployment:

triangleCapitalism and human progress

triangleJob figures mask casualisation

triangleSocialism 2016: Putting socialism on the agenda

triangleJarrow March: an inspiring show of solidarity between workers and youth

Benefits:

triangleHousing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

triangleMajor attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

triangleFight expansion of disastrous 'Universal Credit' welfare system

triangleUN slams Tories for disabled rights ruin

Disabled:

triangleChatsworth ward campaign replies to Tory MP's intervention

triangle'Freedom riders' lobby against violent policing

triangleFeatured letter: disabled workers want our voices heard, not charity

Claimants:

triangleBenefits workers oppose 'rape clause' and two-child limit

triangleScrap the Tory 'rape clause' and all benefit attacks

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

12/10/17

Cleaners

Justice for Tube cleaners demo

11/10/17

Salford

Salford Unison condemns pay cuts

11/10/17

Royal Mail

CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

11/10/17

Carlisle

Carlisle NHS campaigners hand in petition to MP

11/10/17

Green

Don't wreck our rec! Campaigning to save green space in Standish

11/10/17

Fire

No more fire deaths - ensure safety now!

11/10/17

Cardiff

Cardiff Socialist Students confront 'Parasite' Jacob Rees-Mogg

11/10/17

John McDonnell

Manchester rally discussed unionisation and nationalisation

11/10/17

Orgreave

Join the Orgreave Halloween rally

11/10/17

Union

Workplace news in brief

11/10/17

Democratic rights

Who's watching who?: The fight for justice, trade union and democratic rights

6/10/17

Northern Ireland

Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

5/10/17

Runcorn

Too much to cross the Mersey

4/10/17

Royal Mail

Set for national strike action

4/10/17

London

Supporting the general strike in Catalonia

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle16 Oct Teesside Socialist Party: After the party conferences

triangle17 Oct London: TUC lobby & rally; and London march

triangle18 Oct Warrington & St Helens Socialist Party: 1917-2017; the October Russian Revolution

triangle18 Oct Hackney Socialist Party: 100 years ago - the Bolshevik-led revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2