Is there some merit in bits of what Labour are saying about making people work ?

I note today that Labour minister Caroline Flint has come in for some deserved criticism of labours announcement that they may wish to make people homeless if they fail to get jobs. This is a slightly odd situation as presumably when they become homeless the council would then be forced to find them a home, but that is not the point.

What Carolin Flint has announced is unworkable and does not make sense on a number of levels. What about carers ? What about people who are on incapacity benefits ? I could go on, but there are all sorts of people who simply cannot and should not be expected to work. Then there is the ludicrous situation of people being dependent on benefits which simply cut off, leaving people waiting with no cash for several weeks, meaning that getting a job can throw people in to poverty.

However, let's not throw out the baby with the bath water. There is some merit in the principle of people being encouraged and even coercered in to getting a job rather than excepting benefits, isn't there ? I'm not sure I have the answer, but a a principle the answer ought to be yes.

I heard of a housing officer who recently took a 17 year old girl, with her child, to look at the council flat she would move in to. It was newly decorated, was newly furnished, and was in the housing officer's words, "nicer than his own house", yet the girl's response was that she didn't like it because "it didn't have a dishwasher !"

Isn't this just the problem ? There is an attitude that people demand something for nothing, and they really don't want to pay for a dishwasher themselves. And this comes back to the old problem that the only way you can really get a council flat in some parts of the country is, it seems, to be to get pregnant and have no job.

I work in an area which is predominantly council housing and I know that the vast majority of people work bloody hard for everything they have. I also know, because people tell me, that there is a small minority who seem to have everything but have never done a day's work in their lives. Honest hardworking decent council residents think this is unfair and I actually think a good proportion would want to see the state make "those" people actually have to earn the right to their benefits.

This is not the only problem though, because the real problem is the shortage of council/social housing. Perhaps if Labour sorted out the shortage of council housing, halted the right to buy and released council house sale monies to councils, we could build more council houses and stop the need to be on benefits in order to get a house.


Anonymous said...

We don't need more council housing. We need a planning and tax system which encourages developers to build low-cost housing.

Lee Griffin said...

Well, I disliked the news as much as anyone, but she did make it clear people on incapacity benefit would be exempt (though that is all she alluded to).

There are merits in what she was saying, but why the stick approach? You simply can't force someone to work without either admitting that you don't care about peoples civil liberties or inflicting a choice on people that potentially can lead to their human rights being diminished at worst, and at best lead them to a life of crime.

Your example of the girl is interesting, though I would ask why the government is entertaining her (if they even are). It has a right to do a certain minimum for people, but that doesn't extend far. As long as the conditions are appropriate the government shouldn't be bending over for individual needs. They're a safety net not the Ritz!

And this is the issue I feel, it's too much about what those minority "shirking the system" are doing, and I really have to question how valid that claim is, as you yourself say...carers, people on incapacity benefit, etc can all appear to do nothing while being completely unable to do any more.

Reform of the incapacity benefit and mass retesting would be a start, more housing stock would be better, but without a system that actually rewards people that work harder to do more for themselves while taking those that don't without legitimate reason down a level you can't start to enforce anything even remotely like what Carolines wishes.

I think my main question would be, can you ever truly eradicate all instances of benefit "fraud" without also accepting that the result has to be higher crime in some other area...surely we have to accept criminals are criminals, and that trying to tackle work shirkers is better for this country than trying to tackle more muggers and burglars, as well as the crimes that they may lead to?

Dan said...

This is just political posturing. Even if some of what she says makes sense (e.g. in Norwich 6 out of 10 council house dwellers are unemployed) - it will never ever happen!

asquith said...

That idea is the biggest load of bollocks of all time.

It's totally unenforcable.

It's never going to happen.

If any government was stupid enough to try it, it would end up spending far more and doing nothing whatsoever for the workless.

It was suggested solely to appease the mindless scum who read the Daily Hate Mail, Scum, Torygraph etc.


Normal Mouth said...

there are all sorts of people who simply cannot and should not be expected to work.

And these people should be excluded from the proposed commitment contracts.