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.



  1. All very true, Menhir. There is only one way to really reduce unemployment and that is to have more jobs available. Having people doing unpaid work is going to reduce available jobs still further….

  2. One wonders if this punitive attitude is the result of a resentment towards those who abuse the social aid of the establishment. But in any case, it seems the wrong way to go, and lacks respect for the people themselves. How sad that you have to deal with such extreme measures.

  3. Indubitably. There will be so many jobless to join the new current jobless. At present, there are five jobless applicants for every advertised post in Job Centres Plus. Those centres won’t be providing much assistance or hope in the developing climate of joblessness.

    In rural areas where do jobs come from that were never there in the first place? What has gone, is not likely to be replaced in any alternative form.

    Getting on a bus that takes 4 hours each way, is hardly an option, particularly when the bus times do not match work starting times, or the finishing times don’t allow you to catch a bus that will take you home. The three daily trains (that’s a generous provision) don’t do any better. With low pay, if you get a job four hours each way from home, how to do afford the fares? How do you live?

  4. That is the plan at the present time, Tylluan. Coerce people into tasks that were once paid jobs, that won’t be, because the public sector cannot afford to employ people to do them. This is The Big Society. How will it live?

  5. Inevitably there have been small percentages of abuse of the welfare system. These cases when they come to light are very theatrically publicised and it is spoken of as widespread. Yet when there is abuse of Parliamentary expenses – high sums of money – from the public purse, (hidden but tacitly accepted by the majority of parliamentarians since the early 19080s)there are all the classic signs of minimisation and in-house forgiveness, where they can get away with it. The same behaviour is observed with tax avoidance by high profile people. There are more cases like the latter, with vast amounts of money secreted, than there is abuse of the welfare system.

    The welfare system is not perfect, it is over-complex I think, and there are issues that do need to be addressed in its operation. However, the punitive language we are hearing during a time when more and more people are becoming jobless, is diabolical and very frightening. There will be a need for even more help in a variety of forms, including welfare.

    I wonder how long it will be, Shimon, before your people say ‘enough is enough’ with the ultra orthodox community’s life-long funding. I know it is a bone of contention in your society, where you also have to consider tight budgets.

  6. Regarding the funding of the ultra orthodox students, this too is a very complicated problem. I believe it is not a true advantage to that community, but there is no question that the Zionist society has sinned towards this community. And on the other hand, we wish to perpetuate the best possible relationship with this minority. There have been many mistakes on both sides in the past, and it will be very difficult to repair the damage. I can only hope that we will be able to accomplish some sort of repair.

  7. Oui…

    Je suis d’accord avec quelques des sentiments des les changes, mais la systeme proposee, san les vraies places de travailles, ou seulment avec le ‘travaille volontaire’ que avant etait travaille avec salaire, est inequitable.

    Il sont plusiers departments rurale avec un peut de travaille, mais pas beaucoup; et cite ce que depends sur travailles de la governance publique par-ce-que il ya rien autre, tout ca. Celui contractera. La dependance sur assistance constructif sera necessaire.

    Nos systeme d’education d’universitaire devenirera seulment pour une elite. Ier les students et professeurs protestee en Londres contre le propositions de hauter le prix pour tuition X 3.

    Maintenant, les voix des protestes parles.

  8. I think it’s good to focus on the narrative under which social policy is sold. The dialogue of necessity which surrounds the budget reduction, and as you highlight, the welfare cuts, does not actually measure up to the reality of the UKs debt.

    Not only this, the emphasis from media is to focus on the comparatively small welfare bill and pass over the massive debts incurred from the banking bail out, did someone say £1trillion?

    I agree with your principles but will reserve judgement on how this will turn out in practice. It could be the first conservative government to increase public employment if this public service was treated with the same dignity as a job. It could be a repeat of the worst criticism of the last conservative government: creating a social underclass. It could be the solution. Will see.

    I’ve actively looked for refuse work in the past and couldn’t get it without signing on.

  9. Actually AB, we think similarly. I am reserving judgement on outcomes. I can see some constructive thinking coming from the general thrust of ID-S and Frank Field’s collaboration. I do believe there does need to be some re-working of the welfare benefits system. Constructs to support the outcomes proposed are not yet in place, I question if realistic ones will be. However, the State offensive is not just about the numbers of unemployed people, and the increasing numbers of jobless and those to be, as you know.

    The rhetoric from government is horrifying.

    Yes, you are right about the UK debt; there is more about party dogma here than has been highlighted so far. As for the banking bill, we are almost getting to the point where people will be so confused they’ll be asking ‘what banking bill’?

    As for other savings, from corporate and individual tax evasion and avoidance, that does need tackling. Lip service will be about all we’ll get with that. Some of the wheeler dealers are too close to it, to want to really make definitive change, in my view.

    I like your conditional thinking ….if this public service was treated with the same dignity as a job. Add to dignity *and salaried*. This, of course, is the next ‘progressive’ movement, the reduction of individual expectation and income. (Not accounting for the additional social knock-on affects).

    We are making and exporting little; we are paying the price for farming out our manufacturing and technical base, even the Germans have noted that. It was cheaper to do so. To successfully build a creative working base again, over time, we have to compete by being cheap.

  10. On revient en arrière… Les diplômes, ainsi que les bons emplois, seulement pour les enfants de riches…

    C’est ce qu'”ils” veulent ! La concurrence internationale, en ramenant les travailleurs européens au niveau des travailleurs chinois…

  11. I ask me : How much time to understand that this politic is as bad as communism ?

    The communism, it is the man’s exploitation of man, the globalization, it is the opposite (that is the same thing, in fact)

  12. I already have a niece made redundant from teaching.And a niece gone abroad to get work.The main annoyance is how the poor are criticised more than the rich tax evaders and the bankers.C#est la vie.

  13. There is a simmering emotion surrounding the bankers, some of it has been vented in other guises, and also with other issues. Somehow, it doesn’t sound so sexy to gun for the tax evaders. The media, whose bosses enjoy their power, would prefer to keep it that way. Sensationalism against the poor, makes better copy, funnily enough, in the very sector of the population that is likely to suffer most.

    I wonder how long we can afford to have a brain drain abroad,or, will there be a lessening or cessation, due to ‘abroad’ placing restrictions on economic immigration.

    The whole thing is messy.

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