Monday, July 21, 2008

The proposed welfare reforms

I haven't read these in depth yet, but have heard the Minister responsible talk about them.

There seems to me to be a basic problem. I am quite happy about having personalised responses to unemployment. Makes sense. Encouraging private sector American companies to provide that service is another matter. I'm also OK about helping people in a practical and hands on way.

However, there are three major problems with this plan.
1. There are not enough full time jobs for everyone who wants them at wages which make it realistic for people to take them. Of course you will have seasonal minimum-wage work available in the Lake District - not a lot of use if you happen to have dependants and live in St. Helen's. So, yes, young people from Eastern Europe will come over and do them for a year before returning, and that is a lot simpler than trying to relocate a family to an expensive area and expecting them to survive on low wages.
2. Making empty threats about removing benefits from people with drug problems who won;t accept help is grandstanding. The main reason people don;t accept help is because what there is on offer is largely crap and based around becoming addicted to methadone instead of heroin. Proper rehab costs. You can't get that on the NHS
3. And this, to me, is the main issue. If there are necessary community based jobs which need doing, then why aren't these being created as proper jobs and ringfenced for the long term unemployed?

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