Friday, November 21, 2008

Quick Reforms Rip Heart Out Of Welfare

Shameful moves to force the weak and vulnerable into work rips the heart out of the welfare state. Now these cruel and heartless plans have been rounded on by a senior government adviser who warns the new measures may push people into poverty. 

Any pretence ministers had to care for the traditions of a welfare state or the less fortunate in society have been ripped to shreds with government adviser, Sir Richard Tilt, warning plans to get the jobless back to work, or cut their benefits, should be delayed.

The government move should be seen for what it is. These plans have nothing to do with creating a fairer welfare benefit system and everything to do with an obsession with unemployment targets and spending cutbacks on the needy. A shameful way of bringing down the unemployment figures set to hit 3m by the end of next year. 

And they come at a time when the country is facing a grave economic crisis. The move will do nothing to help the millions caught up in the poverty trap of spiralling debt and despair. 

Calls to rethink or delay plans to force lone parents, disabled people and the long-term jobless to seek work should be welcomed as unemployment spirals out of control.

Sir Richard rightly points out that benefit rates are relatively low and if you reduce benefit for a few weeks by 40%, you are pushing people much closer to poverty. 

But work and pensions secretary, James Purnell's, callous Blairite reply claims the plans would offer support to the jobless, not penalise them and it was more vital than ever to help the jobless seek employment.

Once again, it's innocent children who will suffer as they are forced to turn into latchkey kids. The struggling parent is forced onto the streets, picking up a menial and degrading job while scratching around for childcare. 

Lone parents often stay at home often for good reason. Pushing the parent into work is not the way to go about it. 

No-one would deny welfare reforms are much needed but now is neither the time nor the way to bring in these draconian measures. Reforms need to be brought in with a caring heart and compassion, not bulldozed through to save on benefits payments and massage unemployment figures. 

Government claims that there are over half a million jobs out there for the taking are a lie. 

Most would require the huge upheaval of a long move to another part of the country. Most are very poorly paid menial jobs, tantamount to slave labour, in appalling conditions, which nobody wants.

From March 2009, parents of 14 and 15-year-olds will no longer be able to claim income support and from July 2009, the change will extend to parents of 12 and 13-year-olds. Then, by October 2010, lone parents with children aged seven and over will be required to look for work in order to get benefits.

These "welfare to work" reforms will end up as another shambles with people left frantic with worry over how they're going to make ends meet. 

The Orange Party despised the Thatcher years when everyone was in for themselves, leaving the poor, weak and vulnerable out in the cold and at the mercy of predators. 

Now New Labour and its Blairite policies have been exposed, once again, as a smug bunch of neo -Thatcherites with no heart and no soul. Bevan will be turning in his grave.

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