Why does Labour follow the Tory path of punishing the victim over work benefits?

The idea of giving young people aged 18-21 guaranteed access to education or training or help to find work is obviously a good one, but why spoil it by proposing that such persons should receive a means-tested ‘youth allowance’ at a rate perhaps even lower that the current job seeker’s allowance (JSA)?   The latter is already paid at the extremely low level of £72.40 a week (£10.34 a day) for adults aged over 25 – almost the lowest rate of unemployment benefit anywhere in Europe – and for those aged below 25 the rate actually falls to no more than £57.35 a week (£8.19 a day).   It is now proposed in the IPPR report published yesterday that they will only get this princely bauble if they already had the skills to secure a job or were in vocational training.

A successful training policy depends on three principles.   One is an economic policy that favours growth over continued downward pressure on economic demand (i.e. prologed austerity) so that there widespread opportunities for well-paid, high-skilled, high-productivity jobs.   Today there are still 2.3 million people unemployed who can’t find such jobs since they are scarcely available.   Of the 1.5 million jobs the government boasts it has created, two-thirds are in self-employment on a pittance income and the overwhelming majority of the remainder are in low-paid, insecure or zero hours contracts jobs.   The second requirement is good-quality trainers, not the likes of A4E or Serco who cherry-pick the most able or motivated young people to get the government’s bounty, but focus much less on others who thereby lose not only job opportunities by work benefits as well.   And the third requirement is a positive programme that fires up young people’s enthusiasm, not one super-charged with sanctions.

Why does Labour so often follow the Tory line whilst tweaking it a bit to remove the rough insensitivities, but still sticking to the same Tory principles?   Why have we accepted the Tory policy of austerity for reducing the budget deficit when growth would do the job far quicker?   Why have we gone along with the Tory canard that people on unemployment benefit are all skivers or shirkers when they desperately want a good job, but it’s not available when there are 4 times more people on the dole than there are job vacancies available?   Why have we fallen for the ugly Tory practice of sanctioning people (i.e. depriving them of all benefits) even for the slightest offence when the number of deliberate miscreants is tiny and the real problem is the system’s failure to offer the sufficient incentives?

7 thoughts on “Why does Labour follow the Tory path of punishing the victim over work benefits?

  1. Hear, hear, sir!
    I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed in this post – in fact I wrote much the same on my blog earlier today: http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/labour-is-following-the-same-plan-as-englands-football-team-to-failure/
    I must confess, though, that I find this piece extremely disheartening.
    If you, as a sitting Labour Member of Parliament, cannot make the Labour leadership see sense, what chance do I have – or any of the other thousands of rank and file Labour members, up and down the country, who want our party to offer a genuine alternative to all this neoliberal austerity oppression?

  2. Mr Meacher, together with all the other disaffected MPs from both major parties, will have to join the Greens, the only genuine neoliberal party we have. When they do that, people will have a genuine alternative to vote for. Until then, in the presence of growing discontent but absence of any way of expressing that discontent through the polling booth, we inch closer to nationwide riots every day. I’m all for it myself, actually, I’d love to see Duncan-Smith and others dancing on the end of a rope. Live by the sword, die by it I say. He and others deserve all they get.

  3. Ed Milliband obviously couldn’t care less.

    But this is also part of a wider problem and of a raft of evil and vindictive polices that that amount in practice,(on aggregate,) to a deliberate and premeditated massacre of the poor and the disabled, and which are being compounded and even tacitly supported by the attitude, (sanguine, indifferent and utterly complacent,) of the current leader of Labour party.

    Milliband (surrounded almost exclusively by the soiled baggage of the discredited Blair administration,) who should be screaming blue murder about all this, clearly neither cares nor wants to know, about the increasing hardship and the desperation of the lives of people living only on benefits or about the NHS; neither of which they have in the USA which is apparently where he’d much rather be living.

    My own experience of the Work Program, (entirely negative and pernicious,) is that it’s really nothing but another shabby scam intended to rob unemployed people of their meager benefits to fund overpaid chief executives and the staff of organizations such as Positive Steps, Avanta and co,) and that the training and support they are supposed, (they have so far refused every single request for help and training that I’ve made to them on various pretexts,) to be providing is either a straightforward con or is of such poor quality that it’s really little more than a cynical exercise in creative time wasting intended only to justify their funding and not so much to help people into work.

    A good first step would be to close down the pointless and expensive work program in it’s entirety, (the only people it’s getting into work would have found work anyway without it,)and to make some of parasite who are profiting from it get a job themselves.

  4. Sanctions aren’t just for minor and often completely insignificant ‘offences’. They’re also given for those getting emeshed in the errors of the staff giving the sanctions, or even carefully invented by them.

    Staff at the Job Centre, or wherever, are able to make mistakes and muddle up someone’s claim as much as they like, without any comeback. If their frequent levels of incompetence were reflected in their wage, they wouldn’t be getting much. Sanctions for error should work both ways, or there should instead be more human understanding.

    That is why among the sanctioned are a disproportionately larger percentage of those with learning difficulties and those in the ESA WRAG, as they are seen as easier targets. These being the more vulnerable groups for whom it is pretended they are there to be given extra support, which usually amounts to, when not having their benefit removed (due to their inability to understand when they’re being fitted up, or their genuine unwellness), being sold on for indefinite free labour, for the benefit, from public monies, for the employers’ profits, or the charities’ profits (with higher wages for those running them), and of course the profits of the providers.

    Until the one person not making money out of it is the person being forced to do the work, usually without any hope of it leading anywhere.

    In the case of young persons entering the employment market without adequate qualifications or abilities, many will have some sort of learning disability, even if not diagnosed; and some will have deep sociological problems. Denying them income will all too often only widen opportunities to increase our prison population, which costs the taxpayer hugely more.

    The only positive support being given by any of these programmes is to the Poverty Pimps living high off of public-purse benefits, providing the umpteen useless course or pretended work- experience opportunity.

    If only instead there had been or could be an investment in some genuine quality one-to-one support; and no more workfare, as it only decreases real jobs and wages, and keeps people on benefits even when they are working.

    It is very wrong to punish the victim and reward the perpetrator, which is the present situation.

    When even the govenments own figures show that more people would have found viable employment without all of this ‘help’ (and in reality usually do so in spite of it), it is time to draw a holt, and stop this explosion of private-provision contracts, where billions are given out to cut some millions, which aren’t saved really, as the social costs simply rise elsewhere.

    Here it would indeed help if the Labour cabinet would stop trying to out-Tory the Tories, at a time when the point has been reached when they should be having a field day in exploding the many provable lies of the government; and turning the tables on the benefit issue by emphasising all of the unneeded larger benefits going to the wealthy and big private companies.

    If the government had ever been serious about cutting the deficit, they would have halted all unnecessary multi-billion projects, and set to to close all of the tax loopholes.

    That they have instead only unleashed an assualt upon workers’ rights, and the support of the weakest members of our society; and thereby,. besides much human cost, decreased cash flow and slowed any hope of recovery, illustrates that they are only in fact acting as representatives of the corporations and selling to them the ‘stock’.

    Unfortunately all we have at the moment is an opposition party promising to do just the same sort of things, only maybe a bit more nicely; with a few lone voices of reason among their backbenches, to which little notice is taken.

    If nothing else, though ’tis a forlorn hope, I would suggest that at every opportunity those lone voices come together to increase their number and volume; and embarrass their leadership with a stream of undeniable facts and figures, to back up the suggestion of better, more wise policies.

  5. Michael you ask why, Labour carries on where the Tories leave off, Wish I could answer that one, but they always have, under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown they somehow thought that if they carried on from where Margaret Thatcher that the people who vote Tory will vote for Labour, the fact is they won’t. and in doing this Labour has forgotten about the people who do vote Labour, If labour want to win the next GE, they must get back to socialist policies, I will vote Labour in 2015 because I want the Tories out, whether I will vote Labour after that depends on Ed Milliband, If he follows the Torys down Tory-lite road then no,

  6. Dear Mr Meacher MP.
    If you, with all your valuable experience, your vision, hopes and dreams, with those of all your allies within the ‘New Labour’ party are totally unable to change its attitude and direction from your powerful, privileged positions within, fat chance any of us on the outside will fare any better.
    We see the proof every day that politicians are not interested in their electorate and they don’t need to be when they can simply form coalitions of similarly self-interested, money motivated political mercenaries whenever their position becomes untenable.
    It truly is ‘them and us’ until we can sweep the whole rotten, stinking lot away and replace it with a system that works for the benefit of the majority and not the minority.
    The whole ‘political party’ system is absolutely rotten through and through and needs to be eradicated along with the breed of vile, corrupt individuals it invariably attracts.
    This ‘election’ nonsense is just a ridiculous political ball game with no end and no hope. It’s a foregone conclusion who the winners and losers will be so why bother with the charade.

  7. The corporations are now running this country, and all too many of our MPs are working for them and not for us, and serving up for their masters their requirement of a workforce made desperate enough to accept any conditions, or for whom they do not even have to pay.

    Many of the young persons entering the employment market without adequate qualifications or abilities will have some sort of learning disability, even if not diagnosed; and some will have deep sociological problems. Denying them income will all too often only widen opportunities to increase our prison population, which costs the taxpayer hugely more(and gives profits to yet another proviteer).

    So far ‘support’ for the unemployed has meant only been caught up in the huge scam of profits for the provider for selling their client to the workfare provider, providing extra profits to the employers getting free labour; and, as it has been reported that the wages of those running big charities rise in proportion to increased contributions, also boosting those incomes.

    Where ‘training’ has been courses of intense banality, whose purpose seems to be solely to keep the provider in employment, and to give the appearance of something being done; along with the umpteenth session about how to do a CV (however old or work experienced the claimant). Following on from which, even the governments own figures show that more people would have found a job had they been left to their own devices.

    Resulting in Poverty Pimping, where increasing numbers of organisations are making money out of the unemployed – claiming large benefits from the public purse for so doing – and the only ones not any better off are those being made to do the work. So that our young people enter an employment market where working without a wage, or even an income, is becoming normalised.

    So that the more disadvantaged of our young people would indeed need to have some very different approaches, involving some sort of hints of quality and something like actual real support, along with the encouragement of their efforts leading to real jobs with proper wages; and no more of sanctions for the slightest nothing – for all ages.

    How good it would be if the Labour cabinet could start to appear as if they care about the way the rights of the workers are being steadily undermined, and increasingly for too many their lives decimated.

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