Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/583/7427
Another DWP minister resigns
JAMES PURNELL, government minister at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), resigned last week - one of an increasing number of ministerial resignations from Gordon Brown's disintegrating government. Katrine Williams, vice president of the PCS civil service trade union in the DWP Group (personal capacity), explains why Purnell won't be missed.
PCS members in the DWP will not be disappointed that James Purnell has resigned. Yvette Cooper coming over from Treasury is now the 20th minister we have had since Labour came to power in 1997.
Purnell has been involved in the MPs' expenses scandal with allegations that he avoided paying capital gains tax on the sale of a London flat after claiming expenses for getting tax advice.
The sleaze and double standards of this government, whilst most workers are worried about hanging on to their own home and job, is what has contributed to the Brown government's electoral meltdown.
But Purnell's main legacy to the department has been to steamroller through parliament the harshest ever welfare bill (see The Socialist 18/2/09). He even received praise from the Tories for the measures included in the bill, showing clearly that this government is trying to introduce Tory policies.
Purnell remained adamant, despite pressure from our union, in pursuing a policy to make far more claimants be actively available for work during what is the biggest recession within living memory.
The Welfare Reform Bill is filled with words like 'responsibility', 'obligations', 'compliance', 'something for something instead of Social Security'.
The main attacks in the Bill are:-
- Compulsory workfare.
- Abolition of the safety net - those currently claiming income support such as carers, single parents and pregnant women will be forced onto JobSeekers Allowance.
- Privatisation - of all parts of Jobcentre plus.
- Penalising single parents and disabled people for failing to get work, rather than addressing the barriers to getting work and discrimination of employers.
- Penalising drug users, forcing compulsory treatment under threat of sanction.
Our union will continue to mobilise and maximise the opposition against this unjust bill whoever happens to be our minister. We remain committed to fighting for improvements to the terms and conditions of our members. And we will continue to press for enough staff and offices to deal with the impact of the recession.
We want to deliver the best possible services to the public and we campaign for a fair and supportive welfare system.
In The Socialist 10 June 2009:
Socialist Party election campaign analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party publication
International socialist news and analysis
Youth fight for jobs