If you’re chronically sick and disabled, unemployed, or a single parent, after the news of the past week or so, I think it’s a very fair question.
Yesterday we had Ian Duncan Smith going for the Stupid Bugger of the Year award, by suggesting that the unemployed, living in social housing, be forced to move from areas of high unemployment to areas where there are plenty (ha!) of jobs.
His argument is that the middle classes routinely do this, as they move house to follow their jobs. Which is the most deranged bullshit. True, some will move if the job is good enough, and if they can sell their current home and buy another, the former by no means certain these days.
I suspect, though, like anyone else, that most of the middle classes will work within commuting distance of their homes, and any change of job is likely to still be within commuting distance, because changing homes is massively more complicated and fraught with difficulty than changing jobs.
Of course, though who do sell up and move can amply afford to do so, and may well get help with relocation costs – not so someone who has been out of work for any length of time. The simple act of relocating, even in social housing, will cost – what? – a thousand pounds, maybe, which just won’t be available (I got a quote of almost £400 just to move me from one flat to the one next door!). If it didn’t cost so much I wouldn’t still be where I am, I’d be long gone, to somewhere rural and leafy.
Smith’s plan depends on people exchanging – council/housing association tenants in a high unemployment area swapping with council/HA tenants in areas where there are (allegedly), jobs going begging. But who in their right mind would want to move from an area where there are jobs, to an area where there are few or none? The very idea beggars belief, and will never work.
Won’t stop them fucking with people’s lives trying to make it work, though.
Then, today, we have Frank Field, David Cameron’s poverty adviser. suggests stopping the benefits of single men who refuse to accept government offers of work. Think about that for a moment. How is that supposed to help with poverty, in any conceivable way? It will cause poverty, FFS.
Field is bitching about unemployed men who believe a job paying less than £300 per week isn’t worth taking and, frankly, it’s not, especially if they have a family (the family, for example, Field is so keen that they should support, if they’ve fathered kids out of wedlock).
£300 a week would benefit a single person, living at home. I can’t see it would be much good to anyone else – after taxes you’re probably looking at £180 a week – with a family to support (or child support to pay), and rent to pay (or mortgage), it’ll go nowhere, especially if they lose the fringe benefits they had on JSA.
So, if someone refuses a job which might very well pay them just enough to keep them in penury, Field wants their benefits stopped.
Can someone please tell me what that will do except drive up the crime rate, and quite possibly the suicide rate too?
We’ve already heard, of course, of plans to force people off Incapacity Benefit and into work, as cynical a ploy as I’ve heard in quite a while, because, as I’ve said before there are no jobs! Especially not for people who likely to be unemployable, through illness or disability.
Cameron, Osborne, and Clegg – and Field, too – know this all too well, just as the execrable James Purnell knew it when he set up ESA. The plan is not to get people into work – it never was – it’s to force disabled people off IB and onto JSA, just as ESA does now. Or, in Field’s case, to force some of the unemployed into a life of crime, or worse.
It’s a money-saving exercise and nothing more.
Before the election Cameron said there would be no return to Thatcherite values, and, as it turned out, he was telling the absolute truth.
For the chronically sick and disabled, for the unemployed, and for single parents, this government is far worse than Thatcher ever was. Worse than Purnell and Labour, too. I spent the first 11 years on disability benefits under Thatcher (and the no-hopers who followed), and I never once felt insecure, not until Labour, and Purnell, cobbled up their regressive policies.
Now we have Cameron, Field, Duncan Smith, and Osborne, a conspiracy of the most despicable people in modern politics, proving that they are far worse, in the fields of unemployment and disability, than pretty much anyone who has gone before. All they’ve forgotten about – so far, at least – is the reintroduction of the workhouse. Give them time – they’ll have to do something with all those who, thanks to Field, will be penniless and, as a result, homeless, too.
Welcome to the brave new world, where illness and disability, unemployment and single parenthood are now seen as crimes against society, to be savagely penalised.
Have a nice life – if they’ll let you.