Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://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:

triangleMajority of kids poor in some areas

triangleUniversal credit: set up to fail

triangleTory prescription for mental illness: stress and bureaucracy

triangleTwo in five 'right to buy' homes now for let

Disabled:

triangleWaltham Forest Universal Credit protest

triangleChatsworth ward campaign replies to Tory MP's intervention

Claimants:

triangleThousands live in tents and sheds - seize empty homes

triangleUniversal Credit chaos: Tories punish the poor

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

19/2/18

Walthamstow

Building the campaign against clearances of the working class

16/2/18

Haringey

No fudge with the right wing

15/2/18

TUSC

TUSC statement on sentencing of Derby TUSC agent

14/2/18

Haringey

Haringey protests HDV - but Labour fails to kill it off completely

14/2/18

UCU

Uni strike: coordinate public sector fightback

14/2/18

Cardiff

Enjoyable and successful Cardiff Refugee Rights gig

14/2/18

Carlisle

Carlisle debate - socialism or social democracy?

14/2/18

Firefighters

Staines fire services saved

14/2/18

Surrey

Threat of action defeats pay cut at Surrey council

14/2/18

Woolwich

Woolwich Crossrail walkouts to demand promised bonuses

14/2/18

London

Sadiq Khan's bus drivers' London licence doesn't go far enough

14/2/18

Mansfield

Stop press: victory - campaign saves NHS rehab ward

8/2/18

Newham

Teachers strike again as anti-academy pressure mounts

7/2/18

Unison

Unison national women's conference

7/2/18

Royal Mail

Royal Mail forced back under threat of action

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999