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Sep
2013
Monday 30th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

If there is anything worse than multimillionaire ministers constantly looking for new ways to clobber the jobless, it's their nauseating claim to have unemployed people's best interests at heart.


If there is anything worse than multimillionaire ministers constantly looking for new ways to clobber the jobless, it's their nauseating claim to have unemployed people's best interests at heart.

George Osborne described his Help to Work scheme, based on US workfare which links benefits to doing unpaid work, as "a very compassionate approach to people who previous governments just ignored."

In fact, the long-term unemployed have not been ignored by previous governments.

They have been berated and vilified by a succession of work and pensions secretaries for supposedly choosing a life on benefits rather than finding work even though there are not enough jobs to go round.

That is a failure of the system not of individuals, most of whom would leap at the chance to earn their own living.

They are not assisted by a neoliberal government committed to attacking public-sector jobs and services as part of an ideological programme to reduce the role of the state and lower taxes for big business and the rich.

New research from the GMB union indicates that the Tories and Liberal Democrats have presided over a massacre of 631,000 public-sector jobs in the past three years, with another 400,000 to go in the next two.

All these workers have paid income tax and national insurance, which is what finances the benefits paid to the unemployed.

Osborne's sneers about "something for nothing" do not apply to workers forced onto the dole by a government that could not give a toss for the "hard-working people" it claims to prioritise.

The Tories' main concern has always been reserved for landowners, big business and the tax-dodging rich.

Something for nothing applies more to Osborne's forebears who benefited from the blood-soaked plunder generated by slavery and from state compensation when this crime against humanity was made illegal.

Forcing people to work without pay appears to come easily to this beneficiary of inherited wealth born with a silver slave-driver's whip in his mouth.

Something for nothing is Iain Duncan Smith living rent-free in a £2 million Tudor mansion in its own grounds, courtesy of his well-heeled in-laws - the same Duncan Smith who dreamed up Help to Work.

His vicious scheme will not create a single job for the unemployed. It was not designed to do so.

Its twofold purpose is to cut the amount spent on benefits by stepping up sanctions for failing to meet harsh conditions attached to them and to encourage the public perception that claimants are unemployed through choice.

Most journeys to jobcentre offices involve travel, so making claimants attend five days a week will entail financial hardship, to be further exacerbated by loss of benefit for a month for one failure to attend and for three months for a second.

The "community" work already pencilled in for claimants - clearing litter, cooking meals for the elderly or cleaning graffiti - is already done by local authority workers.

Will they be replaced by coerced claimants, thereby pushing up unemployment still higher?

Apart from unpaid work and compulsory daily reporting to a jobcentre, claimants will have to take action to tackle problems such as alcohol or drugs that prevent them finding employment.

The main problem standing in the way of full employment is a moribund capitalist system based on exploitation and class discrimination.

The sooner this problem is eradicated the better.




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