The coalition – a force for evil?

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.

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9 thoughts on “The coalition – a force for evil?

  1. Superb blog as usual Ron. This situation is VERY scary and gathering momentum on a daily basis. I simply cannot believe the most vulnerable people in our society have been targeted and vilified in such a way. I daren’t consider where it will end.
    Please keep up the good work Ron,
    Regards, Cath.

  2. But, Ron – and there’s always a but…

    If you can work; you should work.

    Why should you and I pay through our taxes to support those who *choose* not to work.

    If there isn’t work where you are, how can I wave a wand and create a job where you are? If you *can* move and find work, why shouldn’t I expect you to do that?

    Every year, tens of thousands of people in their 20s do that; many of those will be university leavers. I’m sure lots of them would like a job close to their mates. They have to put up with where they can get a job – and so should the putative “single men”

    £720 a month net? In a flat/houseshare (2 sharing a £500 a month flat £250, £40 Council tax each , £50 utilities each), that would leave you … what £300-£350 a month spends…

    … and they’ll be paying tax and net contributors, rather than net costs.

    How much should you and I pay to keep a single man who wants to live in an area where there *aren’t* any jobs?

    There are a heck of a lot of people who’d love the £300 a week you are sneering at. As I recall, the minimum wage gives £237.20 for a 40 hour week – or it will do from October.

    By your lights, then, anyone on minimum wage should try and get out of work and stay on the rock & roll?

    Strewth.

    • I’m not talking about flat shares, I’m talking about one guy, maybe with a family, being offered a piss-poor wage.

      £500 a month for a flat? Where? Sure as hell not round here, and this is a relatively depressed area. My one-bed sheltered flat costs more than that, and in the private sector you can pretty much start looking around £800. As for flat share, why stop there? Why not put them in dormitories? They’re only doleys after all. Fuck ’em if they don’t like it.**

      **For the hard of thinking, that’s irony…

      And I’m not sneering at anything – I’m saying that a net £180 or so a week is NOT a living wage for a man with a family, or paying child support. And it’s not. And minimum wage is even more shit – we all know that. I must know perhaps 15-20 people on minimum wage, and not one of them has a family. They’re married women boosting the family income, or youngsters just starting out. You can’t finance a family on minimum wage any more than you can if it was £67 more, and THAT is my point.

      You seem to share the view that everyone on JSA is young and rootless, and that simply is not the case. It never HAS been the case.

      By your lights, then, anyone on minimum wage should try and get out of work and stay on the rock & roll?

      Want to show me where I said – or even implied – that? You seem to be overlaying what I actually wrote with your own prejudices. Pretty sad, that…

      Ron.

    • Hmm… The Guardian, this morning, said “First coalition mutiny as Lib Dem MPs rebel on VAT” The “mutiny” was just 2 LibDem MPs with the balls to vote against the party line. Not exactly a rebellion, then.

      Sooner or later, though, Clegg will come to realise that he’s been played for a sucker. His own party seems already to know that, but just aren’t ready to make a stand. Give them time, they might rediscover their guts. All it’ll take is getting creamed at a by-election.

      Ron.

  3. In fairness, I don’t think there was any suggestion that people be “forced” to move to areas where there are jobs; the suggestion was that introducing measures that would enable those in social housing to have that flexibility, if they wish it, would help to remove a barrier to accessing employment.

    I don’t see why it has to depend on the exchange system, either, particularly as relying on that mechanism probably wouldn’t be responsive or flexible enough. There are undoubtedly other means by which allocations could be made.

    You can move house for a lot less than £1000, too, if you’re able and willing to do the driving and lifting yourself. Actually, even if you appoint a reputable company to handle it all for you, it can easily cost only half of the amount you suggest. I moved from Yorkshire to Devon last year and spent around £200 on the van and a couple of tanks of diesel combined. Of course, this is still a significant sum for someone who has been unemployed for any significant period of time, but is still a 5th of what you suggest.

    Finally, as I understand the government’s policy, their intentions are to make sure that those claiming disability and incapacity benefits actually need those benefits by implementing tests to establish such need, not to “force disabled people off IB and onto JSA”, that’s just a misrepresentation of the policy. Surely it’s better that people who are not incapable of work are prevented from claiming benefits that are intended for those who are in need?

    Anyway… great blog! Just found it today, and it’s great to see some in depth, wide ranging and well written commentary. I shall stay tuned!

    • Thanks, Glynn, but a couple of points.

      The element of compulsion was quite definitely there, ditto the exchange system – Field’s assumption being that everyone on JSA is in social housing. It’s not even slightly true. Owning one’s own home – or being in hock to the building society, looking at it more realistically – is no guarantee against being unemployed. Been there. But Field’s crackpot idea can’t possibly work – it’s too full of holes.

      As for the cost (as I think I said, but I’m too idle to look), in May last year, moving 30 feet down the corridor, to the flat next door, could have cost me almost £400. As it was, I didn’t get an awful lot of change out of £200, and I didn’t even need a van. Van hire is the cheapest way to do it, as you found out, but not everyone can do that (not everyone can drive, especially around this area, with one of the lowest rates of car ownership in the country (god help us if everyone drove here – nobody would go anywhere).

      And when it comes to forcing people off IB and ESA onto JSA, that is precisely what ESA was designed to do (did you know, for example, that ESA doesn’t even comply with the legislation upon which it’s allegedly based?). It’s not just my view, by the way – check out any of the major charities working in the field of disability. And it’s the government’s avowed aim to reduce DLA claims by 20% between 2013 and 2016, despite the DWP’s own figures for DLA fraud being a mere 0.6% last year (source http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/ newsletter and members’ section). And I’d draw your attention to this, too http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/blogs/2010/07/05/coalition-begins-smear-campaign-against-dla-claimants/ A campaign of lies to rival those of David Freud a couple of years ago https://ronsrants.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/more-on-benefit-lies/ and comments.

      Nothing I wrote was exaggeration or imagination – the truth, as they say, is out there. I just comment on it.

      Ron.

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