As the re-structuring (or should that be the deconstruction) of the State welfare system is in the offing, under the watchful eye of the Conservative Government Minister Ian Duncan-Smith, who has made it his cause, I wonder why he appears to be unable to make unpalatable public announcements relating to proposed changes. Many difficult announcements seem to fall to the smaller group of partners in this coalition government.
The announcement that the future unemployed will be expected to do community work, like, as stated, picking up litter, if they remain unemployed for a designated time and don’t appear to make efforts to obtain work, is a disturbing scenario.
Litter picking and similar clean-up work, is work given to offenders. These are people who have been found guilty of offences and sentenced by the criminal courts to community-based sentences. The justice system accepts menial tasks- amongst others – as a method of making reparation to the community for crimes committed. It is a form of restorative justice.
There will be lots of unemployed people, the mass redundancy period is nigh. Where will all the jobs come from for the huge numbers of people without work? Our highest unemployment rate in recent history is imminent. Are we about to criminalise masses of unemployed people?
There is no sign yet, that government policy is geared in any way whatsoever to supporting solid job creation in any shape or form. The policies announced sound harsh and regressive, as does the rhetoric that accompanies them.
The views of The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in this matter, are incisive, sensitive and relevant. He believes the proposals, which the politicians state will motivate people to work, will send people into decline. The whole concept will be humiliating and punishing.