What goes around comes around and here we are, 100 years on from the report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Law (1910) looking once again at welfare reform. The rhetoric of benefit dependency, or benefit scrounging depending on your philosophy, informs current government policy aimed at getting the nation back to work. Being employed is going to be made the most attractive option.
Do some simple deconstruction and look at the background, lifestyle and income of those making these statements. Then put them into white wellies and leave them in a wet fish factory or get them into the industry of the 21st century – a call centre – either cold calling where your wage depends on meeting your targets or customer services where the ‘care’ ethos has gone to extremes – give Iain Duncan Smith the experience of verbal abuse on a shift rota that includes bank holidays and weekends. Will he still see work as the ‘more attractive option’?
Its all about getting people back into work and nothing about support for those who have always been in work, who spend their lives doing the low paid routine jobs that the government is trying to make more attractive than benefits. Ensure those citizens have contracts that protect them, not cut their wages if they’re genuinely ill, and most of all create affordable education opportunities so work chances can be improved. The cost of part time education is exorbitant and contributes to the trapping of young single people into dead end jobs where opportunities are locked down and there are too few rewards for taking the ‘more attractive’ option.
Then there is the issue of incapacity benefit – and ensuring protection for those genuinely excluded from social, economic and cultural participation. Not because they are unable to take part – but because society is not designed for them to be able to. A separate blog post I think. If you have any concerns about these issues then watch this space…