ESA proves Labour has betrayed its core values


1:55 am - January 20th 2010

by Laurie Penny    


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I spent this evening watching a black labrador slurpily lapping the shoes of a major think-tank director whilst its owner thought up ways to lie to me about his party’s attitude to the poor and needy. In a speech given in conjunction with Progress, David Blunkett MP set out to demonstrate just why the Tories are so very, very different from New Labour.

The former Home Secretary quoted Aneurin Bevan, who described the Conservative party’s habit of using government policy to shore up the assets of the privileged as “sucking at the teats of the state”.

“That sums it up pretty well”, said Blunkett, who went on to describe how the evil, ghoulish Tories, are planning to reduce the size of the state by selling off central and local government functions to private companies in an effort to save money, because they, unlike Labour, care about money more than about people.

Mr Blunkett omitted to mention the small matter of the Welfare Reform Bill 2008, with its stated aim of saving cash by getting a million people off sickness benefits and back into work whether they are up to it or not.

This week, the BBC has exposed the inhumanities of the new ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) system, which requires all claimants of incapacity and other benefits to attend a ‘compulsory work-focused interview’ in order to assess their capability for work.

In almost all cases, the BBC found, after a series of humiliating interviews in which patients with terminal cancer have been asked to demonstrate how far they can walk, applicants were told that they were ineligible for state support and ordered to seek full-time paid work immediately.

After nearly a year of ESA, the government still cannot say how many people this brutal and dazzlingly expensive system has helped back into work, but it can say for sure that 44,000 people are currently waiting for the results of their appeals, costing the taxpayer additional millions.

Dr Chris Johnstone, whose work helped shape the ESA policy, criticised the system, saying,

I have no problem with a rigorous medical assessment done in a supportive fashion, but I think if you have a slipshod one done, as it appears to be anecdotally, that’s unfair for the people going through the system. It feels like some of it is done inappropriately and it’s almost being done to save money rather than to look after people.

So here we have a Labour policy that involves …well, it involves contracting out functions of the welfare state to private companies, with the explicit purpose of forcing a million people who are sick off state benefits, in order to save money. Which, by the way, they’re not even doing.

When I raised this inconsistency more-or-less politely with Mr Blunkett, he stammered for a moment before claiming that people attending compulsory medical assessments “should be entitled to a choice of providers” of this “service”. This is an outright fabrication.

Even where more than one private company does offer ESA assessments in an area, welfare claimants are not informed of their right to a second ‘medical’ opinion. But that’s not the clever bit. The clever bit of ESA, the really nasty, vindictive thing about this scheme, is that accessing the money one is entitled to now involves a fight, a fight that, according to Atos doctors, one is designed to fail:

“When doctors go in for the day’s assessments, they pretty much know the clients are going to be turned down…It’s really tough to qualify for ESA.” Sam, 32, a former research scientist, described his experience of applying for ESA, which was far from ’empowering’:

”Jumping through the hoops to access my benefits took me six months, during which I was peniless and despairing. It’s not about ‘what you can do’ – what the DWP want to find out is just how incompetent and incapable you are. If you’re to stand any chance of getting the support you need, you have to fail hard enough to satisfy them. And if there’s ever anything calculated to institutionalise failure, that’s it.”

After Blunkett had finished pontificating about ‘choice’ and ’empowerment’ and how much Labour ‘cares about people’, I waited for the red-eye to subside, made tea, and turned on my computer. Where I found that another friend of mine, Laura, 23, who suffers from severe mental and physical health problems, had received a letter from the DWP telling her that she no longer fulfils their criteria for being unwell:

… and therefore, I am no longer entitled to my Employment and Support Allowance. And as such I have no income whatsoever.

Now, when I read the letter I cried for half an hour. Cried so much my throat hurt. But now, now I’m just angry. I’ve spent months in psychiatric institutions, and I struggle every fucking day with feeling like a failure, and what this letter essentially says is, ‘you’ve failed a test you didn’t even know you were taking, and no, we didn’t consult your doctors, but as far as we’re concerned there’s nothing wrong with you, get back to work and stop sponging.

You can read the whole of Laura’s post here.

This is a policy that destroys lives, sometimes literally, sometimes inexorably, and always with the tepid tang of faceless beauracracy.

If Labour’s only election strategy is to accuse the Tories of not caring about ordinary people, something is badly amiss. It’s not merely a lie: it’s an untruth so fundamentally at odds with the last five years of policymaking that one suspects the cabinet of some terrible mass hallucination of integrity.

Labour’s callously outsourced welfare solutions demonstrate that the party has betrayed its core values of decency, fairness and support for ordinary people. In doing so, it has sold the ordinary people of this country, working-class and middle-class, skilled and unskilled, the Sams and the Lauras and you and me, into what could be a generation of failure to thrive.

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About the author
Laurie Penny is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She is a journalist, blogger and feminist activist. She is Features Assistant at the Morning Star, and blogs at Penny Red and for Red Pepper magazine.
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Reader comments


The header states “ESA proves that Labour has betrayed its core values” and I think to myself “ursines consider forests for latrine purposes”.

Interesting to see that Mansel Aylward of the UNUM Provident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at the University of Wales in Cardiff, who is one of the major architects of the new Work Capability Assessments in his capacity as an adviser to the DWP, received a K in the New Year’s Honours List, while Emma Harrison, the multi-millionaire Pauline Campbell-Jones manqué behind the appalling welfare-to-work bullies at A4E, picked up an OBE.

look back at the Tories, I’m paraplegic after an accident my bowel bladder does not work and i suffer constant chronic pain.

Under the Tories each year i use to have a rise in benefits which covered the rise in council tax and rent, so every year my benefits rose in line with most costs. The Tores also gave us DLA which is a major part of my benefits and has made a massive difference to my life, I can now have a car which is adapted for hands only.

Under labour the biggest rise I’ve had has not even covered the cost of my rent for example last year I had a rise in benefits of £1.25 a week, my rent went up by £3 a week plus the Housing Association decided to put a service charge of £3.46 a week and my council tax went up by £2 a week while gas and electric well they went up.

So ever since labour has come to power my benefits have gone down , I only found out labour removed the council tax and rent from the benefits review.

Now labour says DLA and AA will be removed from the over sixty fives, when i wrote to them about this they point blank refused to say yes or no, saying this benefits was highly unfair, yes but what they failed to say they intend to save 8 billion out of it thats the cost of two years of war.

But this year I’m expected to go over from IB to ESA, I will lose £12 a week because labour has dropped the benefits you get by removing the age related part of IB.

I spent 40 years in the labour party, but labour died when they elected Blair and Brown, I’ve left now.

Labour betrayed its’ core values when it abolished clause 4. But that aside, like the previous tory administration, Labour was quite happy to massage unemployment figures rather than address the problem of people on incapacity benefit, who may have been able to work with support. Labour is no different to the tories, they will single-out the groups in society who have little or no power,to make spending cuts, in times of economic downturn.

I can work with help OK a lot of help but i would love to get back to work, the one thing about being disabled your deemed to be stupid or a moron or your some how unable to need to speak talk or chat to people.

I have been on the Job centers waiting list for work, I’ve been to numerous job providers, all they seem to want is the money they get and thats it.

Six of my last jobs I’ve gone for have been ridiculous, window cleaning , taxi driving, bus driver, lorry driver, I cannot drive any vehicle except a car which is adapted. how can i clean windows I’m in a wheelchair, but these are the jobs you get sent for.

Hey but James Purnell said Labour needs to be “radical”. Repeat with him.

Laura. 23. Gin lover. I am sarcastic, very British, and have a thing for upper class public school boys. It’s always Pimm’s o’clock.

Sounds like a deserving case to me.

Give her the money fuckers or she’ll cry.

Don’t forget Shagger Blunkett is paid by poverty parasites A4E, £25-£30k is 2008

Do note that the intellectual backstop to all of this is the very Labour My Lord Layard.

No, really.

Um…pagar, I’m not sure what your point is. I never said that I need or deserve incapacity benefit. Gin is vile, and I hate bloody public schoolboys. Are you trying to say that because I’m lucky enough to be employed and fairly healthy myself, I can’t stand up for people who aren’t?

FFS.

Laura says she scored 0 out of 15 on her assessment.

0.

Hardly a borderline case, so perhaps not the best evidence to adduce that iffy practices are being implemented to reduce the benefit rolls.

Laura says she has been in psychiatric wards as a result of her ‘failed relationships’. She’s 23. At that age you’re supposed to have failed relationships. Really no need to worry about being a failure.

Give up the gin.
Lose the attitude.
Get a job.

9 – I think that’s from Laura’s webpage.

Laurie Penny @ 9

pagar’s reference (like my own) is to Laura’s own blog bio at the link you provided:

Laura. 23. Gin lover. Harry Potter. Stephen Fry. Oscar Wilde. Patrick Stewart. The Decemberists. Fantasy Novels. Politics. Feminism. The Arctic. Wuthering Heights. Tattoos. Star Trek. Polar Bears. Violin.
I am sarcastic, very British, and have a thing for upper class public school boys.
It’s always Pimm’s o’clock.

@Flowerpower – I’m not sure why you think hobbies and interests pages come into it – must one be a self-confessed blood-drinking necrophiliac to qualify as mentally ill? (Actually, according to the ESA system, apparently the answer is Yes)

Laurie

Actually I agree with the substantive point of your post. For the Labour Party to outsource these medicals to a private company and pay them according to how many people they can get on reduced benefits is appalling and if the Tories had done it, we would all be rightly critical.

I can work with help OK a lot of help but i would love to get back to work, the one thing about being disabled your deemed to be stupid or a moron or your some how unable to need to speak talk or chat to people.

I have been on the Job centers waiting list for work, I’ve been to numerous job providers, all they seem to want is the money they get and thats it.

What we need is a policy to help create a system that can help Robert and others to lead more meaningful and worthwhile lives not a system designed to impoverish them.

The PCA test of which I’ve had about six now, in which you have to have 15 points to be deemed disabled, I had 188 points. No bowel function 15 points, no bladder function 15 points, unable to walk 15 points, I have serious problems with my hands 15 points, and I cannot remember all the rest but i ended up with 188 points.

yet before the DDA I actually worked and found work pretty often without the job center, but now of course I cannot find work because the DDA will pass on the burden of keeping me employed to the employer and boy they do not like this….

Yeah that’s all well and good Laurie but Labour sold out a long time ago. Why complain about it now, just as they’re about to lose power? We all know most centre-lefties will go back to them after the election, so why not focus on the future and come up with practical stuff as to how we can get these laws repealed under a Tory government.

Ookay …. (Sorry, I’m also called Laura – secretly -, and also 23!)

I can’t believe pagar’s and flowerpower’s responses to this are to not believe Laura, who was in hospital because of bipolar and an eating disorder. Her relationships failed because she was seriously ill and unable to maintain them. What ‘attitude’ are you talking about?

Oh, and by the way? My partner also scored a mere 3 out of 15 on that same test. And he has days when he literally cannot stand, and he needs crutches to walk about.

So essentially, just like ESA providers, you’re dismissing Laura despite her medical problems **without even having met her** – and without, I suspect, having read her actual post.

Cause yknow, I suspect that when Laura is well again – something the DWP aren’t helping – she’ll still like Patrick Steward, geekery and feminism (understandable) and gin (incomprehensible). Those aren’t things that make you more or less well. They are evidence of **having a personality**.

19. Alisdair Cameron

Bravo (brava?) Laurie. Now I don’t want to offend your feminist sensibilities, but on this, the Govt, the likes of Blunkett,Purnell and their cronies like Emma Harrison are c*nts (sorry, but there is no stronger term in the language and they are that dreadful).
What gets me is how some can still support New Labour: there are some transgressions and betrayals that can’t be forgiven, lines crossed that sever all links with humanity and compassion, let alone liberal or left sentiments. The privatisation of welfare, identured labour and bullying the weak and disabled is the lowest of the low behaviour. If you vote Labour this time round, they’ll take your vote and go on their neo-liberal, illiberal, authoritarian way: you’re dreaming if you think that if they somehow stay in power, they’ll backtrack-they won’t, but they will take your vote as an endorsement of such awful policies as these (while the bankers still get soft-soped). ATOS, Unum, A4E are all poisonous, profiteering agencies, who deny legitimate supprt and welfare to the neediest (real benefit cheat aren’t tackled as they’d kick off, so pick on the meek and disempowered) all rewarded massively by this corporatist, uncaring shower of shits.

labour has ended income support.

Labour has tried to take DLA and AA two benefits for the most sick or disabled if your over sixty five.

In the past six months unemployment was shooting up, so labour has placed an extra 175,000 unemployed onto Incapacity benefits even though they should have gone onto ESA.

keeps unemployment down.

Bipolar is classified as a serious disability under the DDA.

AC – as the proud owner of one, I can confirm that Blunkett, Purnell, Yvette Cooper and their cronies are, indeed, cunts. There are some lines that you can’t cross and still claim to support ordinary people. xx

Your “gin test” amazes me, Flowerpower. Tell us again how a fondness for liquors derived from juniper berries renders one entirely healthy, and able to work. We’re revolutionising diagnostic medicine here!

(When James Purnell says “radical”, by the way, he’s thinking “*snirk* radical, duuuuude…“)

Fine post, spoilt by some pretty vindictive comments (and some powerfully personal and honest ones from Robert) by anonymous cowards who, with no sense of irony, use the personal information they can find out about others, against them, whilst cowering behind fake names.

The worst thing about British politics is that this issue is not even going to be on the table at the next election. At the end of the day, whether the next prime minister is Labour or Tory, or probably even Liberal Democrat, ESA is pretty much safe. It might get renamed. If we’re really lucky, they might sack the contractor, and pledge to find a better one. But ultimately the basic problem will remain.

But this is how public services are delivered these days. There’s no debate on this issue among the political parties (even if the public is far from in agreement).

The fact is that any government wanting to change this policy (or many other related policies) would have to take on business interests and the markets. They will not tolerate any ruling party wavering in commitment to continued “reform” and “modernisation” of public services (i.e. tailoring policy to channel more public money to business while removing public money from other causes, ESA being a perfect example of both). They have huge amounts of lobbying power, national and international, and have very strong allies in the owners of the press. It’s hardly surprising that career-minded politicians generally find it easier just to implement their agenda.

25. Shatterface

‘Fine post, spoilt by some pretty vindictive comments (and some powerfully personal and honest ones from Robert) by anonymous cowards who, with no sense of irony, use the personal information they can find out about others, against them, whilst cowering behind fake names.’

Oh, get off your high horse over ‘anonymous’ posting. We don’t *all* have the luxury of working for employers who won’t sack us for expressing honest opinions. Some of us have also discussed our own bipolar disorders on this site and that could cause us problems at work if widely known. (And yes, despite mental illness we still *work*)

Until this site bans anonymity and some of us are forced out anonymity is not an argument against someone, nor is it ‘cowardice’.

Shatterface, even you must see the error in picking fault with the personal details of someone when doing so from behind a wall of anonymity.

even you must see the error in picking fault with the personal details of someone when doing so from behind a wall of anonymity.

Daniel

As you are presumably referring to me as one of the cowards in question can I point out that I did not “pick fault with the girl’s personal details” I merely copied them from the top of the blog that Laurie linked to.

Without knowing all the particular circumstances, it is impossible to judge if her disability score of 0 points out of 15 was fair or not. So, assuming that she is genuinely incapable of work, I came down in favour of the taxpayer supporting her Pimms addiction.

How is that vindictive?

28. Shatterface

‘Shatterface, even you must see the error in picking fault with the personal details of someone when doing so from behind a wall of anonymity.’

You haven’t just objected to anonymity on this thread you’ve repeatedly called anonymous posters ‘cowards’. Unless people are passing themselves off as someone else (and I understand there are some who have impersonated you so maybe you have more reason to be suspicious than others) their identity is none of your business.

Privacy goes hand in hand with free speech. Get rid of anonymity and people censor themselves. That’s not a situation conducive to open debate. You chose to reveal yourself; nobody else is obliged to follow.

Interesting article (and strange set of responses). But no-one has produced a solution to the key problem. What about those on incapacity benefit who can actually work? How do we deal with them. Is it the system as a whole that is wrong, or just the implementation?

I don’t have answers to these. But surely the best attack on this system would be to suggest a more effective answer to the problems (both the original one, and the one identified in the article). Even going back to what we had before needs to be suggested if it is what anyone wants. It is all very well claiming the government is betraying people, but this is rhetoric without a clear cause at the moment, and if the liberal-left is to be a political force, it needs both.

30. Shatterface

‘Interesting article (and strange set of responses). But no-one has produced a solution to the key problem. What about those on incapacity benefit who can actually work? How do we deal with them. Is it the system as a whole that is wrong, or just the implementation?’

Precisely the question we *should* be asking.

For decades we’ve been rightly accusing successive governments of fiddling the unemployment figures by shuffling people capable of work onto Incapacity Benefit but as soon as someone attempts to correct this suddenly we are to accept that they’ve all been incapable of working all along.

Instead of asking how we get capable people into work we get patronising crap like the article above. Blunkett is not forcing a million terminally I’ll cancer patients into work, whatever is going on in Laurie’s head. What exactly is wrong in asking people on disability benefits to attend a work focused interview? Unemployment exacerbates health problems – particularly mental health problems. It causes poverty, it destroys independence and it shortens lives.

Not once have I seen an article on this site proposing practical measures to get people back into work. No, I don’t support privatising the benefit system. I think many of the governments proposals are clumsy and impractical and incentives to employers to make reasonable adjustments to take on people with health issues are far more acceptable than coersion – but it’s clear Laurie has a fundamental objection to people with disabilities working *at all*.

The problem is of course if your getting IB you have to have two medicals one is a PCA which makes sure you are disabled, the other is you see a private doctor who works for the DWP, not as Blair stated your own GP.

You are given a medical and then your medical records are checked, well now that we have ESA we have another two medicals one to see your disabled and one to see if your able to work or do something like community work.

But the biggest fact which is missing and always has been, when i go to an interview because i use a wheelchair I can see peoples faces change.

The fact is people want to have people who can do a job or a number of jobs. When i went as a cashier with a well known retail unit, I was told yes your great for doing that job, but we are looking for people who can also fill shelves, and do the till work and perhaps do other things sadly your do not fit our requirement.

Now labour has stated they are looking for firms who are or have a social consciences, which means they will employ a disabled person knowing I would not be able to do the same work as a non disabled person.

Now ten years ago these were the jobs we had, the NHS, Benefits offices charities and the Tax office, but these jobs have now gone because the government has asked the private sector to take the strain.

I ask you would you employ me, my bowel does not work my bladder does not work, I suffer constant pain, if the pain gets to much I use morphine to kill the pain and normally will then sleep for an hour,

Now then if you have somebody who has black mood swings because they might have say a mental health problem or even a serious heart condition, would you employ then knowing they might do something.

I have not been given some jobs because the companies insurance would not accept me. It’s not so easy to find employers, or the insurance or the jobs that i can do

Except it’s not the “work-focused interviews” which are objectionable; they’re the helpful part. What isn’t helpful is what Atos Healthcare seems to be doing, which is rejecting the majority of the reviews of the cases they do, which then seem to be overwhelmingly overturned on appeal. That these people that Atos decide are fit for work are suddenly dropped with no warning either on to no benefit whatsoever or onto JSA, which is paid at far below the sums which most on ESA or IB are getting is the problem. It also means that those that do want to work but need help to do so are suddenly unable to access the Pathways to Work scheme, which has been one of the few reforms which has helped to a certain extent. It has to be remembered this is happening during a recession, and it’s likely that today’s fall in unemployment is nothing more than a blip. It’s the worst possible time for the government to be doing this, but that doesn’t seem to be of any concern to them.

Shatterface @ 30

You miss the trunk swaying grey pachyderm sitting on the sofa. There are not enough jobs for these people to do. For all the talk of getting these people jobs and concentrating on what people can do etc, there is a huge labour surplus out there.

We have this conversation on this blog at least once a month and it always ends the same way; the political Right whingers are never able to acknowledge the obvious fact. The free market (we are told) is the final arbiter of demand. Well for over 2 million of these people and about a million others the free market has sent an emphatic message; ‘we neither want nor need you’.

There is a surplus of labour to the tune of (depending on whose figures you use) anything between 4 and 6 million people for whom the free market (or the public sector) has no place for. No amount of capability tests are going to change that.

There is simply no incentive for an employer to employ someone with a long term illness when is in tray ifs full of CVs from healthy people? Who in his right mind going to employ a 52 year old guy with angina for example in an area of high unemployment? If you live in an area of full employment and the guy walks in with a decent skill set and he is the only candidate, sure, but what if you need a shelf stacker and two hundred 25 year old Poles are at the front desk filling in application forms?

People with minor illnesses are not finding work in the de-industrialised areas of the Country. It is not the IB claimants that need incentivising it is employers! If we can tighten up the labour force enough that employers will actually need these people then and ONLY then, will we see unemployment come down.

34. Vicarious Phil

Labour have been in government for nearly 13 years now, they’ve had plenty of time to take on the problem of the long term unemployed, that their attempts to do so have been such a failure, is very sad. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.

Septicisle @ 32: ‘Except it’s not the “work-focused interviews” which are objectionable; they’re the helpful part.’

Laurie certainly finds them objectionable.

Jim @ 33: ‘You miss the trunk swaying grey pachyderm sitting on the sofa. There are not enough jobs for these people to do. For all the talk of getting these people jobs and concentrating on what people can do etc, there is a huge labour surplus out there.’

And you are missing the point that people who *can* work are being asked to *look* for work, they are not having benefits cut for not actually *finding* work. Failure to *find* work can be down to economic factors but failing to *look* for work is an entirely seperate matter. If the economy was in better shape would you agree that those who *can* work should look for work? If so you don’t disagree with the principle so why aren’t we discussing ways to help people with health conditions get into work rather than having the same old argument that to expect people to want something better than a life on benefits is just being mean?

Why aren’t we discussing legislation and support to help employers make reasonnable adjustments? How about extending the amount of part time work people can do before it effects their benefits? How about discussing retraining for people who suffered stress or injury which prevents them doing their previous job but who are capable or doing other work? Why is treating the issue in a grown-up manner ruled out entirely because of a refusal to accept that anyone who has been on a disability benefit is in any way capable of living a life that involves any kind of agency on their part?

Laurie doesn’t make – and has *never* made – any suggestions about practical help people with disabilities can be given, she simply writes them off. Ditto lone parents. Ditto people with drug dependencies. I work with three physically disabled people in my office. Ten percent of the time I’m bouncing around the office like David Tennant on wizz; 40% of the time I’m dragging myself around like Kurt Wallander when he saw that dead horse. My girlfriend is epileptic. In Laurie’s world we’d all be sat around watching daytime TV in our pants waiting for our next fortnightly payments.

And for many people on IS or ESA actually finding work can be a damn sight easier than for ex-offenders. We don’t excuse them from looking do we?

“And you are missing the point that people who *can* work are being asked to *look* for work, they are not having benefits cut for not actually *finding* work. Failure to *find* work can be down to economic factors but failing to *look* for work is an entirely seperate matter. If the economy was in better shape would you agree that those who *can* work should look for work?”

Going back to the comment I made about Richard Layard. This is exactly his point.

To lay it out for you.

There’s somethjing called the Phillips Curve. This is the trade off between unemployment and inflation. Drive unemployment down below its “natural” rate (actually, nonaccelerating inflation rate of unemployment or NAIRU) and inflation will rise. Drive it above that rate and inflation will fall. Milton Friedman showed that you cannot consistently move along the curve because people will build in inflationary expectations.

OK, but Layard noted something else. Even if you cannot reliably move along the curve you can shift the curve.

For we can divide (very roughly of course, this isn’t an exact measurement) between those who are unemployed and looking for a job and those who are unemployed and not looking. Or even between those who have an effect on the labour market when they’re looking and those who don’t.

In Layard’s formulation (and please do note that this is indeed Lord Layard, SDP and then Labour, not the fervid imaginings of some neo-liberal like myself) the long term unemployed get both discouraged from applying for jobs (hey, after 12 months or so of beating at closed doors, wouldn’t you?) and also their job skills (or human capital if you like) deteriorate so that employers are unlikely to hire them even if they do have jobs to offer. They would rather hire those newly unemployed who still have the habits of work.

So, his point then beomes that NAIRU and the whole inflation/unemployment trade off (NB, no one is saying that this is a desirable trade off, just that it exists) depends upon the number of short term unemployed. For these are the people who are applying for jobs and are likely to get them if there are any going. And thus have that impact upon inflation and wages.

The long term unemployed however (and he includes here those shuffled onto IB as a way of disguising unemployment, something done by both Tory and Labour, but not those on IB because they cannot actually work), because they are either discouraged from looking for work or because they are unlikely to be hired anyway, do not have this effect.

The solution? A combination of carrot and stick for the long term unemployed. Both a requirement that they be actively looking for work and a series of training schemes so that their human capital is sharpened up. Yes, this includes make work jobs just to get people back into the habit of work. The stick being of course that if you don’t actively look for work or take one of the make work jobs then you’re not going to get benefits (or face a cut in them).

Which brings us back to Shatterface. In this formulation (and Layard’s work on this from the 80s is behind all sorts of things, from Clinton’s welfare reforms through to Welfare to Work and the current stuff) it is the “looking for work” on the part of the long term unemployed that gives us the desirable macroeconomic outcome: a lowering of NAIRU, the rate of unemployment at which we will see inflation start to rise.

It isn’t the “getting work” which is the important part of the exercise. It’s the looking.

None of this means that the specific methods being used as carrot and stick are either desirable or fair. But this is the basic outline of why said carrots and sticks are being used.

” The free market (we are told) is the final arbiter of demand. Well for over 2 million of these people and about a million others the free market has sent an emphatic message; ‘we neither want nor need you’.

There is a surplus of labour to the tune of (depending on whose figures you use) anything between 4 and 6 million people for whom the free market (or the public sector) has no place for.”

Ah, sorry, but you’ve misunderstood something about markets here. There is no such thing as a “surplus of labour”. Or a surplus of anything else for that matter. Nor a shortage of demand. There is only a surplus “at a price”. Leave aside all the contentious stuff about business cycles, equilibrium positions and all that. If a market consistently does not clear then this is simply evidence that prices are wrong. In this case, the labour market, if 2 or 4 million cannot find jobs it is evidence that the price being demanded for labour is too high.

No, not just minimum wage: there’s also the benefit level to consider. There are plenty of people who face huge marginal tax and benefit withdrawal rates if they do work, or if they work more than they currently do. The numbers are in the budget but I seem to recall that it’s some hundreds of thousands face rates over 90% (and Chris Dillow has shown that for some it is over 100%….really, some people lose money by coming off benefits and going to work) and some millions over 70%.

The difficulty of course is what do we do at this point? An entirely callous pragmatist who thought that unemployment really was the major problem would suggest that we cut the minimum wage and also slash benefits. Thus many of those currently un- or under- employed would be priced back into work at lower wages. However, this entirely screws those who cannot work.

A similar callous pragmatist who thought that it is the incomes of those who cannot work and those who do work which is more important would say, well, that level of unemployment is simply the price we pay for making sure that those who cannot work have a reasonable income and those who do work get just rewards for their labour. This entirely screws those priced out of the labour market.

The attempt to cut this Gordian knot can be done in a number of ways.

We might try to distinguish between those who really cannot work and who are thus deserving of a decent standard of living courtesy of the luck enjoyed by those who can. And those who can work but choose not to, well, we’ll beat them back into the labour market via carrots and sticks. Lower their non-.working incomes if they refuse to work, raise their working incomes by subsidising employers to take them on, thiese sorts of things. Roughly (and however ineptly)
what the current system is trying to do.

Or, my preferred solution (for whatever tiny value my opinion has) we could cut through the knot entirely. Everyone gets benefits, a citizen’s basic income, so that there is no benefits withdrawal rate (yes, and raise taxes elsewhere to keep the show on the road). Abolish the minimum wage. Everyone thus gets priced back into the labour market.

First of all people on sickness benefits who are told they can work do lose benefits because they are moved to a lower benefit.

Now of course as we all say you need employers to give people a chance. looking for work after a couple of years becomes morally a waste of time because you get use to rejection.

To day a report says that labour has spent nearly a 120 million on advisor’s on how to get people back to work and they have failed. Another failure has been the new training program, which I’ve been on.

training a bloke in a wheelchair how to lay bricks might be a great idea until of course he is asked to climb a scaffolding.

But again everyone and I mean everyone can work if they are given the right help, this was the idea of the labour and Tory party, you need a carer to work with you great thats OK, then recession came and the carers went and you were told not to bother about looking for work.

I’ve been told to stay away from the job center until April, because they know they have no jobs and employers are plainly not able to employ anyone never mind cripples.

38. Flowerpower

Okay, maybe I was a bit glib and insufficiently sympathetic.

While I take bipolar disorder seriously, I am also aware that the term is appropriated by a whole spectrum of people with sub-threshold symptoms and the term is beginning to be used so loosly as to devalue its currency.

Second, someone for whom it’s ‘always Pimms o’clock’ seems to me to have quite another issue, and one that she can address. Indeed, if she’s on medication for the bipolar, it shouldn’t really ever be Pimms o’clock.

Laura’s doctors are the appropriate people to assess her suitability for work. But without her medical records, I can go only on her testimony and actions. She herself blames her psychological circumstances on failed relationships, rather than vice versa. She suggests she drinks heavily. She’s able to maintain a blog (no mean feat); but says she can’t work.

The tests used on her may be over-strict. But to score 0 out of 15 suggests to me that she’s not a good example of the terrible injustice of this process.

How can it be improved?

Well, IMHO it is absolutely wrong to set a private company targets relating to the outcome of medical appraisals. Either people are sick or they aren’t. The testing should be an objective determination that is in no way coloured or distorted by financial incentives.

But is someone does fail a truly objective medical test, performed by properly qualified doctors – then by all means pay a bounty to a private company to get that person a job.

36
“Drive unemployment down below it’s natural rate and inflation will rise” except when unemployment is driven up and you (shock,horror) get stagflation, instead of decreasing inflation.
Tim, I always find your posts interesting, you clearly know your subject well,but economic theory hardly ever fits reality, both at a marcro or micro level.
Many employers discriminate against disabled people, even if those people have the best qualifications, experience, person spec ect. And getting back to the OP, both the tories and the present labour government have used disability and incapacity in a cynical way in order to misrepresent the true state of unemployment. And even more cynically, now there is an economic downturn are now focusing on this group, which does give the impression that most of the disabled/incapacitated are ‘benefit scroungers’.

Hi Shatterface,

“Not once have I seen an article on this site proposing practical measures to get people back into work.”

Think that’s a bit unfair – for a summarised view of what we think would work better, see e.g. Unity’s comment here:

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2009/10/30/carrot-and-sticks-getting-people-back-to-work/#comment-72859

I’ve had the DWP go through my bin bags, because I’ve got a mobility car which my brother drives for me, somebody reported me as a benefits cheat. I was sitting at the window in my chair at 5am watching two men in suits taking my bin bags, I phoned the Police who then told me I was being investigated for fraud. I was then questioned by the DWP before being told and I quote, well your obviously disabled, but we must investigate when reported any crime, so i was criminal as well.

I have too very often defend my self in the job center , especially with firms like Remploy or the shaw trust, you get asked are you really disabled can you prove it.

Over the past few years your seen as a benefits cheat now by most, we have become news labour scape goats

Robert,

That is pretty disgusting treatment that has been meted out to you.

Tim @ 36

Of course you are absolutely correct that Citizens Basic Income is the answer to the conundrum. Almost uniquely, CBI is not a policy of right or left (it can be recovered from the wealthy through progressive taxation and it would allow the repeal of minimum wage with all of the benefits to the economy that would bring).

Because of the simplicity of the system, the efficiency savings would be colossal and it is very surprising that politicians have not picked up on the concept.

Presumably you would support the disabled receiving an enhanced level of CBI payment?

“Presumably you would support the disabled receiving an enhanced level of CBI payment?”

Dunno. Haven’t thought it through to that level of detail. I think not though….because to do so opens up exactly the same can of worms again.

However, I can see it being viable if there’s something else available. a “disability allowance” say.

But the point of a cbi is is that everyone gets it, exactly the same amount, simply by virtue of being a citizen. You can craft other things on top if you really wish….

pagar

So it was just a cut and paste was it? For no reason at all? You just thought you’d do it? Seems daft then. You’re being ingenuous, you did it for a reason, for a purpose to make your point, badly as it turned out and with no conviction at all but you made it.

I can cut and paste nothing about you pagar.

That strikes me not only as vindictive but cowardly, taking shots at someone whilst hiding.

Whatever gets you through the night.

Shatterface:

I object to both anonymity and I connect that anonymity with a degree of cowardice, depending upon the person in question as some here, although under a pseudonym, have an identity that is contactable, accountable and has a degree of personal responsibility.

It is totally personal, unashamedly so and it would remain so if anonymous posters didn’t so often turn out to be trolls or as in this case, prying on the one element they they themselves choose to hide, no doubt for the very reason that their actions reflect.

Hypocritical, paradoxical and cowardly, in my opinion only.

I agree that their identity is none of my business, just as my opinion of them being anonymous and how that reflects upon their behaviour is none of theirs.

And yes, I agree also that my own experience with anonymous individuals effects my take.

I do not agree however that privacy and free speech go hand in hand, I think that truly free speech comes with responsibility and I think people putting their identity to their words would induce a higher level of responsibility from them.

And I also think self-censorship is essential because from control and refining of thoughts comes better debate, not worse.

As for open debate here, that did make me laugh as it is possible, in an anonymous environment, for that to be the last thing that happens because no one takes responsibility, forcing the blog owner to do so and then the oh so tedious cries of censorship echo dully around the place.

“Almost uniquely, CBI is not a policy of right or left (it can be recovered from the wealthy through progressive taxation and it would allow the repeal of minimum wage with all of the benefits to the economy that would bring).”

The problem comes when you get into detail, e.g. what level you set the CBI at, and whether you have additional payments.

In particular, if you replace all benefits with. say. a CBI of 60 quid a week, then people on housing benefits/LHA get absolutely hammered, as (to a lesser extent) do many parents and disabled people (and pensioners, unless you pay them a higher rate).

Alternatively, if you have a CBI + housing benefits, child benefits and disability benefits, then (a) it costs an awful lot, and (b) you don’t save as much on admin.

e.g., the Green Party basic income proposals involve increasing welfare spending by about £60 bn per year (60 quid a week for adults, 130 quid for pensioners, 25 quid for children + keep benefits for housing, disability and lone parents), funded by extra taxes – which I imagine you and Tim W wouldn’t support.

Whereas a CBI which costs the same or less than the current system is one which involve millions of poor people getting less money – which most lefties wouldn’t support.

Daniel @ 45

And I also think self-censorship is essential because from control and refining of thoughts comes better debate, not worse.

Ha Ha Ha. Absolutely incredible.

You have just one the Least Perspicacious Tosser of the Year Award.

Many congratulations, mate.

Incidentally.

in·gen·u·ous ( n-j n y – s). adj. 1. Lacking in cunning, guile, or worldliness; artless. 2. Openly straightforward or frank; candid

Think you meant the opposite. No charge.

Don,

“Everyone gets benefits, a citizen’s basic income, so that there is no benefits withdrawal rate (yes, and raise taxes elsewhere to keep the show on the road).”

I’m entirely happy with the idea of raising taxes elsewhere to end the stupidity and counter-productiveness of the benefits and welfare system that we currently have…..as I’ve already said on this thread.

Indeed, I’ve always used the minimum pension guarantee (maybe a tad out of date but around £113.50 per week isn’t it?) as my benchmark for where the cbi should be set. But at that higher rate that’s it. No housing benefit, mebbe mebbe not child benefit and disability to a tougher standard than todays IB almost certainly.

£290 billion or so a year for each and every adult to get that (less if it’s “citizens” rather than “residents”). Out of a near £700 billion budget that should be possible. If it’s not, I’d be perfectly happy with, say, a higher base rate of income tax or a rise in VAT. Why not 30% base rate and 25% VAT (that’s what they have in Sweden after all for VAT). Do note though that there’s not all that much point in trying to raise the higher rate of income tax much further. If we’re not already over the hump of the Laffer Curve we soon will be (marginal rates at the top end are already 63% including NI and some are already suggesting they should be 75%.)

Yes, of course there are efficiency losses from raising taxes so….but in my opinion hugely outweighed by the efficiency losses we’ll get rid of by abolishing the current welfare system.

pagar:

I think that, if this is to continue, as it is so off topic it would be best to email me, you can find my address on my blogger profile.

Glad I made you laugh, your contributions here however do not have the same effect on me, rather the opposite. I didn’t know you gave out awards? Anonymously of course…

Many congratulations on having the conviction to put a fake name to your words.

Incidentally…

one?[wuhn]–adjective
1. being or amounting to a single unit or individual or entire thing, item, or object rather than two or more; a single: one woman; one nation; one piece of cake.
2. being a person, thing, or individual instance or member of a number, kind, group, or category indicated: one member of the party.

Think you meant to win something didn’t you boy? No charge.

50. Cheesy Monkey

I’m guessing here, but would the potential problem with CBI be that, once implemented, prices would rise almost immediately to ‘swallow’ this guaranteed amount?

—–

Now, I’m no economist, but if there are 4-6 million unemployed, that’s not necessarily a sign of market failure but a weakness in capitalism itself. Surely, this is the point where the Government can step in and do the following:

1) Note where the country has a skills shortage and offer free, subsidised training to the unemployed to retrain. Some of this may be at college/university, but others can be placed directly with businesses that could need the additional workers but could not otherwise afford them.

2) Instigate a major public works programme (housebuilding, rail, renovation, etc.), contracted out to private businesses (where possible) but with strict terms an conditions designed to stop contractors hiking the cost of the works once they have won the contract.

That sounds sensible to me, but none of the main parties will do anything like this. Why?

—–

ESA is just a cynical way of pandering to certain newspapers in the mistaken belief that they are more influential than they are and thus may secure more votes this coming election. A much better way for assessment would be that a potential claimant is first assessed by their own GP, then visited at home by a specialist nurse from a local hospital.

Quick look at the accounts for this year. £120 billion on pensions, £100 billion central and local spending on welfare, there’s another £10 billion or so hidden in “other spending”….we’re £50/£60 billion short and that’s without really looking.

A penny on income tax raises £3 billion (dunno why, just think I remember that) so 30 p base rate gives us another £30 billion. 1% of VAT is around £5 billion I think (that’s a guess!) so 7% added to VAT is £35 billion.

Yes, we could do this really rather easily.

Now, I would also expect there to be large and accelerating dynamic effects: as people see that an extra hour of work is worthwhile, or that temporary work is (ie, you don’t lose benefits for 8 weeks while the system tries to adjust to your new status etc) that the amount of market work would increase, thus enabling one of two things.

1) Bring the tax rates back down

2) We’ll wing it and not put them up in the first place on the assumption that this will happen.

Please do note though, this is me, not any group or organisation I’m affiliated with.

“Note where the country has a skills shortage”

The argument from my neck of the woods about that is that no government has, or can possibly have, the detailed knowledge of the economy to note such things in the required detail.

How many plasterers do we need in Macclesfield? How many plumbers in Plumpton? Bank clerks in Barking?

Called the “socialist calculation problem” and no one’s been able to come up with a solution to it yet.

52
Andre Gorz

Daniel,

I do not agree however that privacy and free speech go hand in hand, I think that truly free speech comes with responsibility and I think people putting their identity to their words would induce a higher level of responsibility from them.

And I also think self-censorship is essential because from control and refining of thoughts comes better debate, not worse.

You are hardly a shining example of what you pretend to espouse. You are one of the most abusive posters to LC, probably on a par with sally, and threads quickly get derailed when you’re about – for instance, this one. In a recent thread, for example, your first three posts accused other posters of being trolls, with no on-topic content. You continued to be abusive while saying on-topic but silly things, eventually complaining about being “backed into a corner that led [you] to a rather naive, moral high ground position”. In other threads, as well as being abusive, you have offered to meet people in order to ‘discuss’ things in person, the subtext being that you might become violent.

Quite why anyone would want to share their real world identity with you, I don’t know.

uklib:

As I said, this is all very off topic but if people wish to persist…

Thanks for the personal attack on me, you are free to do that, from behind the cloak of anonymity of course and where did I say that not being anonymous is a guarantee of perfect conduct?

You can judge me however you wish but whatever I write, I stand by and put my name to it, unlike many here, including you.

Also, I stand by my accusations of trolling towards whom they were aimed, as for the threat to meet someone, that is purely to discuss, your use of “” is your choice but not reflective of truth; I find it brings beliefs expounded online into sharp focus if they have to repeated in the real world.

And to be clear, it is not about sharing their real identity with me but with everyone and yes, it is easier to hide and to, as you are doing, feign that you risk your life if you reveal who you are but if we were all transparent it would benefit us all I think.

Don @ 46

The problem comes when you get into detail, e.g. what level you set the CBI at, and whether you have additional payments.

In my view, for those that can work, it should be set at a level that will pay for all basic needs- housing, food, clothing, heating etc. For those unable to work because of age or infirmity, there should be an enhanced payment (or additional allowance) related to average income levels. Children would receive a lower rate of CBI paid to their parents or guardians.

The Green Party figures seem on the low side to me but it is absolutely key that CBI should be a replacement for, not a supplement to, the existing benefits system.

Some of the positives are-

Efficiency savings due to administrative simplicity.

The end of the poverty trap.

A true market in the housing sector.

No black market in labour.

But I think the main effect of the introduction of CBI would be psychological, on individuals and on society as a whole as it would be seen as a right of citizenship rather than a means tested handout. Clearly equitable.

So no more scroungers, no more benefit cheats and no more DWP snoopers going through Robert’s bin.

Shatterface @ 35

I agree that we should be trying to find work for those on long term benefits who could reasonably work. I believe in full employment, which is more than could be said for any of the politicians that support this scheme.

The problem I have is not so much with the basic concept that the ESA is built on, but how they are administered. These assessments are not being driven by compassion, or a desire to help the long term unemployed. This entire system is driven by a need for profit.

This is where the Right really excels. Some of us prefer the rule of law. We set out rules and regulations and then we follow them, subject to a few commonsense adaptations. The right, however, do not care what the rules say, but they merely insist that they get to pick the people to interpret those rules.

The company that run these assessments are in it for profit, not for their medical expertise. They have been given a brief to reduce the incapacity benefit and they will do that, irrespective of whether or not the people can actually do any real work. If a few hundred thousand people suffer real hardship via a loss of benefits as a result, then so be it.

These people are not are not looking at these cases from a medical position, they have already made the decision before the person’s file has been opened. I agree with you that there are epileptic people who are perfectly able to work, that does not mean that every epileptic can work.

“This is where the Right really excels. Some of us prefer the rule of law. We set out rules and regulations and then we follow them, subject to a few commonsense adaptations. The right, however, do not care what the rules say,”

Does that mean I’m not on the right then? As someone who screams endlessly about the importance of the rule of law?

Tim @ 58

You only care about the rule of ‘law’ when that law is in your favour. Once the ‘law’ (or evidence, science or whatever) is at odds with your ideology, you then declare the ‘law’(science/evidence/facts) to be either wrong, flawed or biased. Case in point (@ 36) :

Ah, sorry, but you’ve misunderstood something about markets here. There is no such thing as a “surplus of labour”. Or a surplus of anything else for that matter. Nor a shortage of demand. There is only a surplus “at a price”.

Clearly that is nonsense. Go to almost every Country in the World where the wages are unregulated by either a minimum wage or a welfare state. I am thinking Africa, South America and Asia. Many of these Countries in these continents have mass unemployment (without the safety net).

Think about pre Mandela South Africa. No welfare, no minimum wage. So we have the purest version of a free labour market imaginable. Guess what, despite the cost of labour being entirely driven by market forces to the point where those people in townships lived in poverty, unemployment in those townships was STILL around 70% or more. Despite perfect market conditions, there was STILL a surplus of labour to the tune of several million people?

Could it possibly be that people who are eking out a living on a few pence a day, don’t plunge their disposable income into decking, BMWs and sushi bars? Is it possible that there is lack of employment in a squatter camp is down to the fact that there is little economic activity to create jobs? Could it be that low wages actually fails to stimulate the local economy? Could it be that the surplus of labour exists BECAUSE of the fact that wages were so poor that kept the economy in check?

Surely your model would have meant that the free market would quickly soak up all the surplus labour at the best price? Yet all over the unregulated Third World, we see mass unemployment with pockets of employment dotted all over it? Where as here in the first World we have high employment top wages, regulated labour markets, that millions of people flock to every year! Strange that. Why is that, I wonder?

Think about pre Mandela South Africa. No welfare, no minimum wage. So we have the purest version of a free labour market imaginable.

You don’t think that some of the most restrictive, discriminatory labour laws anywhere in the world might have distorted that market slightly?

Tim J @ 60

We are talking about in economic terms though, Tim. The rich elite were the rich elite, but the majority of black/coloured people were not in direct competition with them, they were competing among themselves.

The bottom line was, when the price of labour was never regulated, low wages did not generate jobs to take up the slack of the labour force. We are being assured that from a number of sources scrapping the minimum wage and/or the benefit system will magically create jobs for all, albeit at lower wage rates. However, there seems to be little evidence of this in the real World. The least regulated (in any sense of the term) labour markets appear to have the highest unemployment rates, save a few pockets of high employment, dotted at strategic places of the map.

Tim J makes my point for me. If you think that apartheid S Africa was a free market in labour you’ve been smoking something stronger than I care to think about.

The pass laws and the qualification laws: they weren’t something “non-economic”. They were there exactly to make sure that whites got the jobs and blacks didn’t. That’s why they were enacted!

Tim W @ 62

Come on! You are arguing that minimum wages and a welfare state distort the market, well I agree to a point. You also state that abolishing both would create jobs as it would allow the free market to use labour that were incentivesed to work.

South Africa could have used all that spare labour with little options and created work for them all. All the instruments were in place. A compliant, unorganised, unregulated workforce with no safety net welfare state to place them in a position to shun work. No housing benefits to lose if you take up work etc. No nanny state laws that act as a barrier to employment. No ‘elf and safety’ laws to put off employers either. Perfect conditions for using a mass of unskilled labour to farm fields or build sky scrappers or flip burgers or do all the tasks that unskilled labour does or could do, yet, the Country shuns all this labour. Why Tim? Why was massive profits from cheap, unregulated labour shunned and European labour being brought in at pretty huge expense?

Of course cheap labour is not only a product of South Africa, you find it everywhere in Africa and you get the same levels of unemployment in Brazil too.

Those favellas are pretty grim places and you get the same levels of unemployment as well. For some reason, capitalism has shunned these places too. Same economic conditions and same social conditions. Strange that. Again a relatively regulated market has meant that wages are low, yet Brazil is further away from full employment than we are. They must pay higher unemployment benefits there I suppose. How else could you explain the feckless bastards not working or owning houses? I bet their epileptics look for work though.

Try reading some Hernando de Soto as to why capitalism has shunned those places. If you’ve not got property rights (and by definition, people in a shanty town don’t have formal legal rights to that property) then you’ve not got capitalism.

BTW, all of those people you mention do have jobs. They may not be formal jobs, they may not be good jobs buit they are jobs: they work and the get income. That’s a job.

Which brings us to our next point: you’ll note that the good jobs start turning up when capitalism and property rights do.

Discrimination is a major factor which intereferes with the free-market, unfortunately Thatcher’s assertion about there being ‘no such thing as society’ proved to be untrue. I remember in the mid 90s, Norman ‘get on yer bike’ Tebbit, a great proponent of free-market theory, wrote an article about ageism being rife. in response to many of his friends (in their 50s and 60s) who were being passed over for younger people. I believe he (rightly) took a battering from most of the media after the article was published.
Economic theory is all very well providing you forget about people.

Tim @ 64

Do they all have jobs though? Some of them have jobs but in many areas of Rio they do not have jobs, and in some areas of Sao Paulo unemployment has been as high as 40% or 50%.

“and in some areas of Sao Paulo unemployment”

That’s “formal unemployment”. That is, no job in the formal economy.

68. Shatterface

‘ESA is just a cynical way of pandering to certain newspapers in the mistaken belief that they are more influential than they are and thus may secure more votes this coming election. A much better way for assessment would be that a potential claimant is first assessed by their own GP, then visited at home by a specialist nurse from a local hospital.’

So those who can afford their own healthcare can buy the diagnosis they want while those who rely on the NHS have to settle for something more objective?

69. Shatterface

‘The problem I have is not so much with the basic concept that the ESA is built on, but how they are administered. These assessments are not being driven by compassion, or a desire to help the long term unemployed. This entire system is driven by a need for profit.’

Then we agree on this. The way the government is going about this is apalling. The problem is that there are many on the Left who are not interested in finding the right way to get people back into work they simply want to deny there’s a problem.

And for the record I’m not interested in extending the rule of law. If someone’s doing a bit of work on the side good luck to them. The black economy is still part of the economy as far as I’m concerned.

But as I’ve stated elsewhere I believe Parliament is not fit to deliver true democracy and that people can obtain better rights through voluntary associations such as workers co-operatives and trade unions. The benefit system is a safety net for those who genuinely can’t work or who find themselves between jobs. If you choose to exempt yourself from work entirely you aren’t just going to loose out financially.

Shatterface @ 69

The problem is that people who happen to live in areas of high unemployment and you have spent a long time on benefits of any kind it is difficult and expensive to get that person into work.

Where the Government falls down it they concentrate their efforts into booting seven shades of shit out of the weakest members of society. New Labour has continued were the Tories left of in driving down the value of the labour force. We have seen every Tory attack retained and extended further to the point were labour is as cheap as chips.

Looking at the job market today and you see the fruits of thirty years of Tory hard work coming to fruition. We see a return to Victorian values of a de-skilled, unorganised, unregulated, casualised and disposable workforce. Labour’s final act at gloating at the plight of the poor has been calling this shift to Dickensian working conditions was to describe the process as ‘modernisation’.

How ironic that the Labour Party is taking us back to the very conditions that it was set up to combat.

The upshot of this ‘modernisation’ has meant that labour is no longer valued. The Scott Adams/Dilbert gag about ‘people are our greatest asset’ being changed to ‘people are less important than carbon paper’ has come true.

We live in an era of job banks, zero hour contracts, agency staff, temporary work and a complete disregard for what little regulation there is. That is reflected in the people unemployed and those on incapacity because there is ZERO reason to employ them other than benevolence. NL have attempted to tackle this by inventing longer and harder sticks for those on benefits, without looking at the other side of the equation. You can asses people all day and all night and force people to look for non existent jobs, you can compel people all you want, but until to you set about compelling employers to employ people and make it illegal to sack people willy nilly and give people reasonable access to tribunals and employment rights, those on the margins of society will always be excluded from the workforce.

Show me a government doing that and I will support a policy of getting the ill back to work.


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    Liberal Conspiracy » ESA proves Labour has betrayed its core values http://bit.ly/5wNzW4

  17. asquith

    hails: http://tinyurl.com/yauhybo

  18. randy joy

    Liberal Conspiracy » ESA proves Labour has betrayed its core values: This week, the BBC has exposed the inhumaniti… http://bit.ly/6jjxVK

  19. frugalista

    Liberal Conspiracy » ESA proves Labour has betrayed its core values: It feels like some of it is done inappropriat… http://bit.ly/5zfuDq

  20. jorjun

    Liberal Conspiracy » ESA proves Labour has betrayed its core values http://bit.ly/6lYf8h

  21. jorjun

    @LabourKev Your new poster is hollow, has the wrong guy in a whig. Not read about #labour ESA "initiative" ?: http://bit.ly/6lYf8h

  22. Jason Prince

    @theday2day I think it supports your long term belief about Welfare reform Adam. http://bit.ly/84f8u6

  23. merryn smith

    ESA proves Labour has betrayed its core values http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/01/20/esa-proves-that-labour-has-betrayed-its-core-values/





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