Saturday, 2 August 2008

Working For Your Benefits

A few weeks ago James Purnell, the work and pension secretary, announced a major new attack on benefit claimants in his new welfare green paper. His claim that the changes will"transform lives" will indeed be borne out, but disgracefully it will be a transformation for the worse for large numbers of the poorest people in our society.

Even the Tory leader David Cameron heaped praise on the green paper, saying that he is "thrilled" with it, and most of it will be fully supported by his party.

All 4.5 million people on 'out-of-work benefits' will be affected, as benefits will be renamed (Employment Support Allowance) and altered. The main aim of the changes is to force at least one million people of out-of-work benefits into low payed jobs.

The new draconian measures include forcing people to work for their measly dole money. After one year of unemployment, claimants will have to do four weeks 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 will face harrowing questioning and more frequent tests and a medical check from someone other than their own GP. Single parents will have to seek work when their youngest child is seven. Drug reported addicts will be 'required to have treatment.

The proposals go alongside plans to increase private sector delivery, consequently reducing jobs in the public sector and ensuring, that rich pickings for private enterprise come before all else!

The government tries to dress up the proposals as part of its fight against poverty, sometimes using the slogan 'work works.' But over half of children living in poverty are in working households with millions of people on low wages that make them little better off than being on benefits.

This green paper comes at a time when the economy is fast tipping into recession as the number of people dependent on benefit has risen by 45.000 since the end of January and the likelihood of hundreds of thousands more jobs likely to go - you couldn't make it up!

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