Employment and benefits

I’m currently tied up in a series of one-day courses and while they need to be studied for, they’re also very interesting indeed and give a good overview of what’s in the pipeline re debt, employment and benefits [the latter two the area I’ve been working in].

While all of us sign a confidentiality clause, there are certain trends which can be spoken about. One of them is the really appalling new trend in throwing people off disability, leaving them no option but to try for ESA and no hope in making the required points. This is the single most frightening because it includes the genuinely incapacitated.

This is where the gung-ho view “get the buggers off the public purse”, a commendable view in terms of those scamming the system, is anything but commendable when medical assessors are looking at someone disabled, e.g. crippled and because he can still move one hand, he’s fit for work, in terms of withdrawing his benefits. This one can be fiercely debated and I’m with those who want the scamming to stop but what about the genuine cases – the baby goes out with the bathwater and all for political brownie points.

Another one is the trend with the work programme firms of breaching their brief, which was to put people into sustained employment but instead forcing them, on pain of DWP sanctions, into non-jobs which last a few weeks or a month or two, causing two things to happen. Firstly, the non-job means that, even with WTCs and other discounts, the person is bringing in about half of what he was before – he loses his rental accommodation and it puts him on the council’s doorstep, where the new trend is “shared accommodation”, as the council has sold off half its properties to pay for the Iceland debacle or whatever. Then he ends up on the DWP’s doorstep again, signing back on.

Work for dole is something I have no issue with at all and the mechanics are thus: £2.25ph as against NMW of £5.90 or so. However, with housing benefit at maybe £400pcm plus council tax credits at maybe £900 a year, that comes out to £3.07ph plus £0.58ph and so the work-for-doler is actually getting £5.90 an hour in real terms but misses WTCs and other little perks. Still, it’s reasonable in terms of what NMWers are getting – people who went out and got those jobs.

The problem is that employers see the £2.25 and if they can get a good crop of dolers at that price, then why pay £5.90 and be subject to employment law? The question is whether they can get that but in the trying, what is that doing to our hopes of building up industry again in this country and to any sort of job security at the lower end of the scale?

Of course there is the historical solution – cause a war. Think the U.S. are patiently waiting just beyond the gulf, aren’t they?

10 comments for “Employment and benefits

  1. Tattyfalarr
    January 11, 2012 at 9:01 am

    £2.25ph as against NMW of £5.90 or so…The problem is that employers see the £2.25

    I’m just wondering how you arrived at this figure ? Is it based on a DWP formula ?

  2. January 11, 2012 at 11:28 am

    £5.80 was the old rate:


    I settled on £5.90 or so as a rough averaging, for comparison purposes only. Now it’s:


    Council in this area will now pay £400 towards housing benefit pcm. JSA in this area is £67.50 pw. The hours dolers must work is 30.

    • Tattyfalarr
      January 11, 2012 at 12:30 pm

      Thanks James. How long must they work for 30 hours a week in order to continue to receive JSA ? I’ve read that it’s for a month but been unable to find out whether (for arguements sake) that’s one month in a year or something to be repeated on a regular basis throughout the year. Do you know ?

      • January 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm

        Do you know ?

        Short answer – no but I can find out in the next few days. There’s one particular specialist I need to track down and ask.

  3. January 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Unemployment is actually needed by the state to scare all the squares who work for a living, so maybe we shouldn’t be too hard on the unemployed …

  4. January 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Good post, this whole welfare reform thing is trickier than it looks. There is a complete disconnect between what The Graun always wail on about and what the Daily Mail knee-jerks on about and real life (the truth, as ever, is somewhere in the middle).

    Also, I second what Michael Fowke says. Just imagine they all got jobs and tried to rent or buy houses! Rents and prices would go through the roof, so I for one am grateful for the reduced competition for an artificially rationed resource.

  5. Tattyfalarr
    January 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    “artificially rationed resource”

    Spot on. There’d be no problem housing everyone if jobs were created to build more houses.

    People are not “served” by their governments….they are “managed”.

  6. January 12, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    James Higham: In your penultimate paragraph you suggest that “work for dole” won’t do much for “building up industry again”. The advocates of work for dole (and I’m one) have never said it will do much in the latter regard. Those doing work for dole are, after all, a very small percentage of the total workforce: 2% at most, I’d guess. Plus they will always tend to work in an unskilled capacity.

    I’m not even sure what is meant by the phrase “build up industry”. Moreover, the trend over the last three decades has been for industry to decline and the service sector expand. But even if industry does need to be “built up again”, it’s non work for dole people who will do it (or not do it): the skilled, the entrepreneurial, etc.

    • January 12, 2012 at 7:06 pm

      Most of that sounds reasonable, Ralph, except for one assumption – that work-for-dolers are all useless in the scheme of things. Rather, something else is happening.

      There are people falling off the middle-class for a few reasons, including professionals and specialists and these are in that group sent out shelf-stacking. These people have the very expertise which is required to help get the country moving again, as distinct from the mediocrities who actually hold the non-jobs which the socially engineered, changed workplace now has huge numbers of.

      Skills and expertise for free – that’s what this is all about. As for the workplace, it really does need an influx of “making” rather than admin and services. We can’t export our telephone manner, much as the BT Indian call-centres try to.

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