We hear that Iain Duncan-Smith may announce a scheme whereby jobseekers will be forced to work 30 hours a week in exchange for their benefits. Quite when they are expected to look for work is another matter, one that appears not to trouble IDS.
And hark! What’s this I hear? Is it the sound of right wing think tank hooves clattering in to save the day? A perfectly timed “study” that should be ashamed to use the name, released and heavily trailed by the Daily Mail to convince an unsuspecting public yet again that an army of feckless scroungers deserve all they get?
Hail the all distorted Policy Exchange and a howler of a “study”assuring us the public are all in favour and the divide and rule rhetoric of the last few years is paying dividends. But let’s take a closer look shall we?
In the opening words we are assured
“if any government is serious about both tackling the issues of long-term unemployment and concentrated benefit dependency and improving living standards for millions of workless individuals and households, further reforms will be needed.”
Who says? This conflates relatively small number of long term unemployed with wider jobless figures.
“Evidence from both fully implemented schemes and pilots has shown that they can be effective in moving people off benefits.”
What evidence? Citations please? As far as I’m aware there is no evidence that sanctions work long term. The author goes on to cite a handful of American and European schemes entirely selectively to “prove” his point. Oddly, he doesn’t mention the astonishing failure of the UK Work Programme anywhere...
“For instance, in some trials between a third and a half of eligible claimants move off benefit rather than turning up for the placement”
Why? Implication is they were cheats – did they find work? Did they feel unable to comply with the sanction? Did their health stop them? Unless we have that information it’s a totally pointless sentence. But one that sneaks in a nice little value judgement.
“Workfare schemes are also popular with the public.”
Where are the actual YouGov tables please? Where are ALL of the questions actually asked? How were they framed? Was any background information given (ie relatively low numbers of long term unemployed, poor performance of work programme for sick/disabled etc?)
“Up to 10% (65,000) of individuals leaving the Work Programme without finding work after at least two years of support should be moved onto a workfare scheme”
Define this 10% please – why was it not defined in the headlines? Figures of “80%” “52%” etc, imply it is for all claimants.
“A further 10% of those with the most significant barriers to work should be moved onto a separate scheme, Route2Work, which would provide support through expert third sector providers, social enterprise and social finance.”
Should we not be asking why the Work Programme is failing people in those first two years, rather than introducing yet ANOTHER scheme to pick up the pieces?
“Workfare schemes should also be considered as a sanctioning option for benefit claimants who are not undertaking the jobseeking activities that they should be”
EXTENSIVE evidence shows that in many cases they cannot. To qualify for Employment and Support Allowance, a claimant must score 15 points. This denotes a very considerable degree of ill health or disability. As an example, someone with bowel disease may only qualify for long term unconditional support if they are FULLY incontinent (not partially) or are fed intravenously. Anyone else, no matter how sick, how much surgery they need, will be found fit for work if the qualifying descriptors are adhered to faithfully.
This leaves an army of people with long term conditions or significant disabilities, scoring between 1 and 14 points, with very significant barriers to the labour market, being treated as jobseekers. Often the JCP contact who sees them first disagrees with the assessment of fitness for work, leaving the claimant in a kind of limbo, bouncing backwards and forwards between a sickness system that will not support them and a labour system that won’t engage with them.
If they ARE placed in the Work Programme, both anecdotal and statistical evidence shows that they will be the most poorly served. Contractors “cherry pick” the easiest to help and “park” harder to help claimants with very little interaction. It is commonplace for claimants to receive just two phonecalls during the entire time they are on the “Work” Programme. Steven Lloyd, disabled MP, recently said he would like to “chuck someone out of a window” following the utter failure of Work Programme to help these people in any way. http://www.disabilitywales.org/1168/4795
All the while we have a system failing sick and disabled people so utterly, further sanctions are self-defeating and cruel.
Mr Holmes refers to “the generosity of, the existing benefit system”
Nonsense. The UK has one of the most punitive overall social security settlements in the developed world.
Youth unemployment has been on an upward trajectory since in the early 2000s, rising from 248,000 in 2001 to 369,000. Over 68,000 have been claiming for more than a year.
Oh, selective reporting eh!! Youth unemployment fell from 1997 until the global financial crisis, down almost 90% over that period. The global financial crisis in 2008 hit the young hardest leading to sharp increases. If we take figures from only 1997 – 2013, it is possible to paint a picture of systemic rises. This is misleading and has no place in a rigourous study.
“child poverty based on a relative income measure remained stubbornly high and millions of children were assessed as living materially deprived lives.”
Oh dear lord, the FRAMING! This is true, child poverty is “stubbornly” high, but it FELL by 900,00 – 900,000 under the last government http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/nick-pearce/struggle-against-child-poverty-analysis-of-labours-legacy It is set to RISE by 300,000 under this one.
But you know, I’ve lost the will to live.
I’m SICK of right wing think tanks releasing “research” set to prove exactly what Iain Duncan Smith demands. SICK of “evidence” with no citations – nowhere in the study could I find the actual data tables from the YouGov “survey” that apparently found the public want everyone unfortunate enough to have no job to work for free indefinitely. Just a few cherry picked results with no qualifiers at all. Respondents are simply asked if those out of work for 12 months or more should be made to work for their benefits. Absolutely no information to make that decision. A “research” paper that quotes “surveys” with no link or data tables for goodness sake!!!
I’m SICK of half truths and misleading sentences. Sick of cherry picked data that uses random figures to paint false pictures. Sick of assumptions about the Labour market and fraud that just aren’t true. Sick of assumptions that sanctions work better than incentives when all the evidence points to the contrary.
And most of all I’m SICK of “studies” that suggest that because “the public” support their point of view it must be OK. We are told to believe that because a public fed false information at every turn now believe what they have been told to believe, however untrue, it is justification for going even further, destroying even more lives.
The “research” was written by an Ed Holmes who is apparently Senior Research Fellow for Economics and Social Policy!!!!! What a grand title for someone so willing to twist and stretch data like elastic!!