Re-living Liam Byrne & Labour’s failed past on welfare reform


by Jon Stone    
5:10 pm - January 4th 2012

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This morning on LabourList Owen Jones tore Liam Byrne MP to shreds over welfare reform. Byrne had argued that the “evil of idleness”, reinforced by the welfare state, was to blame for high unemployment.

He suggested that the way to correct this would be to punish those who rejected work, and have the government take steps to place them with training or employment.

I’ll add something to the mix: this is not a new idea. Labour already pursued such a policy in 1998. Then, it was referred to as the “New Deal”. It failed miserably.

The New Deal’s architects successfully identified a new problem for the welfare state as it existed – that full employment, which Britain had enjoyed since 1945, was dead. The neoliberal reforms of the 80s had ended the period of low unemployment in favour of a ‘flexible labour market’.

uk unemployment.png
(source: House of Commons Library)

Labour’s introduced two core changes. The first was the ability to withdraw benefits from those who “refused reasonable employment.” And the second was introduction of training schemes and placements to try and help the unemployed become more suitable for employment.

In both cases the onus of reforms was on the unemployed individual – either the lazy individual or the unprepared-for-the-new-economy individual. Labour manifestos of 1997, 2001 and 2005 pledged to restore full employment – not by providing jobs, but by fixing the problems of the lazy, or unprepared individual.

But the policy failed dramatically.

Labour’s reforms never returned unemployment figures anywhere near their social democratic low. The closest they got was to bring the figure down to what it was in the late 1970s, when this poster brought Margaret Thatcher to power:

2labour20100317.jpg

Here are the unemployment figures for 1980 to 2011:

jsa-cc.png

The withdrawal of benefits from the unemployed succeeded in decoupling the claimant count from the actual unemployed figure – leaving many people unemployed but unable to receive subsistence benefits because they no longer qualified for them.

But as the above graph shows, despite the extension of the policy to all adults from 2002 unemployment was roughly flat from the turn of the century until the 2008 recession – when it rocketed.

The New Deal was a well-conceived and well-intentioned policy – in 1998. But it misunderstood the causes of the problem it sought to address, assuming that the unemployment was caused by individual failings of workers rather than the simple fact that there were not enough jobs to go around.

Three successive Labour majority governments enthusiastically pursued what Byrne is suggesting as a priority, to no avail.

And yet we get this old, out of date idea from the man in charge of Labour’s policy review – well over a decade behind the evidence.

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Jon is an occasional contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He blogs at The Red Rock
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Reader comments


Exactly – there just aren’t jobs to go round. Now please can we have a debate about benefits do not pay enough to live. Who’s brave enough to say that? Anyone out there? Thought not. Living long term on benefits eating properly and heating your home is impossible. But nobody has the courage to say that benefit levels are punitively low, and that discourages claimants from sticking around on JSA. But it still needs to be increased, since there is not full employment. A contradiction I will be shouted down for in the following comments, I am sure.

I’d also add that if it was a case of ‘lazy workers’ causing unemployment then employers would be sitting around wishing they could start a business, if only they could find people willing to work for them. This wasn’t the case in either the boom or the bust, labour has always been in high supply.

If you’re saying that it was withdrawing benefits from people who refused to work is what decoupled the claimant count from the unemployment count I think you’re wrong in the main.

What decouples the two is longer term unemployment which you get in recessions and you can see this at various times in your graph.

The reason for this is that, in (theroetical) better times when unemployment is only caused by people being between jobs, you sign on and get your NI based unemployment benefit and you’re counted as unemployed. In a recession you don’t find a new job and your NI based entitlement runs out and you’re reduced to the means tested system and if you have a partner who is working you may not be entitled to anything at all. So in recessions, the gap between actual unemployed and the numbers getting benefits increases.

This is a separate issue from your main point which is the argument between agency in structure’s roles in creating unemployment. This I think has raged since some time before New Labour. It’s not hard to see why Labour would find such an approach attractive once in power because it means they can claim the ‘not our fault guv’ defence. It also means that their new capitalist friends are absolved from blame too and you can leave high unemployment in place which of course the capitalists like because it keeps wages in check.

I’ve spent the last two days arguing with people who should know better about their ‘scrounger’ rhetoric which is, of course, the ‘agency’ argument using shorter words. Such bollocks has no place in leftist discourse.

4. Leon Wolfeson

@1 – Been saying this loudly for some time. The NHS will end up with the bill, too, from chronic illnesses.

Not to mention stress illness from overwork, due to the massive amounts of unpaid overtime done. Oh hey, wait, looks like there might be something which would increase employment AND increase productivity there… (since over 40 hours a week, productivity plummets, Especially long-term…)

But wait, what’s this? Oh, right, the LibDems also trying to get the EU Working Time directive to be inapplicable here, since after all allowing bosses to FORCE (since you can *always* do it voluntarily) people to work over 48 hours a week is such a good idea!

And then let’s start talking about the way they want junior doctors to be working asleep on their feet…

@3 Interesting suggestion, but I don’t think the data really supports it – If you look at the 1980-2011 graph in the article the decoupling widens and widens from 1997 onwards, paying no attention to whether the economy is booming or in recession.

And it is actually in the peaks of unemployment around 1983 and 1987 during Thatcher’s period that the claimant count are the most coupled – whereas if you’re right you’d expect to see the peaks decouple (as +6 months unemployment kicked in) and the troughs re-couple (as everyone was entitled to contributions based JSA.)

I think the problem with your hypothesis is probably that the difference between income JSA and contributions based JSA is tiny. They are the same rates, and if you’re unemployed and actively and looking for work and jumping through the hoops then in the vast majority of cases you can probably gets means tested. The only significant difference in the means-testing is that you can’t access it if you have over a certain amount of savings, which I think is about £16,000 – something not many people have, so the effect is small. There will be other exceptions but they will probably be marginal.

The effect might be true on other countries where contribution based systems actually have an effect (the US, Japan etc) but in the UK we honestly really have a de-facto non-contribution based system, even if contribution JSA technically exists as a category.

But as you say, this is a bit of a side track. I really only mentioned it in the piece because I couldn’t find a ready-made graph without the separation of the claimant count and the unemployment rate on it for that period and it would have been weird to not comment!

“What decouples the two is longer term unemployment which you get in recessions and you can see this at various times in your graph.
“The reason for this is that, in (theroetical) better times when unemployment is only caused by people being between jobs, you sign on and get your NI based unemployment benefit and you’re counted as unemployed. ”

??
I actually remember “better times” and you didn’t get your NI based unemployment benefit straight away.

If you left your job voluntarily or were sacked for ‘misconduct’ then you had to wait 6 weeks (or something like that) to get your NI based benefit. While you were waiting you could claim supplementary benefit if you were destitute.
In practice a lot of people didn’t bother to sign on because it wasn’t worth the trouble.

Wages were paid a week in hand so you were covered for your first week of unemployment. This was usually plenty of time to find work.

It was easier to find another job than to claim.

In a situation where there are more vacancies than job seekers and unemployment is mainly frictional then you would expect a big gap between the numbers unemployed (without paid employment and actively looking for work) and those in receipt of benefits.

Caeteris paribus, longer term unemployment should narrow the gap between the unemployed survey and those on benefit. If anything one would expect the claimant count to exceed those looking for work as the long-term unemployed become demoralised and gave up.

Jon,

Re the decoupling increasing 1997 onwards, I would suggest this is because it was with the introduction of JSA that contribution based support was reduced to 6 months. Prior to this you got Unemployment benefit for 12 months before having to rely on Income Support. This is consistent with my above argument.

I would say that in 1983 the gap looks pretty wide. I take your point re expecting greater decoupling in 1987 and I’m not sure it’s a full explanation but you’d expect there to be some lag between the worst of a recession and the effect I’m describing kicking in and things get pretty bad in 88/89. I admit to being less confident on this point though.

In the case of relying on means tested support (whether IS or IBJSA) where you have couples you are disentitled from the means tested support if your partner works 24 hrs/wk or more which I thing would result in quite significant numbers falling off the claimant count. Also, in the case of couples where one is unemployed and the other too ill to work, it was in their financial best interests for the ill person to make the claim (disclaimer, not sure this is true now that ESA is here as I’m no longer working in the field). This provided a further discincentive for the ‘unemployed’ partner to claim and thus be formally counted.

Lastly, until recently the upper savings limit for IS (past) and IBJSA was £8k and the amount paid was reduced with savings from £3k. It is now £16k/£6k but this increase only happened in the last couple of years mind. I didn’t make this point originally but the lower savings limits would have been applicable for most of the period in your graph and may be a more significant factor than you’d originally considered.

Replacement of Unemployment Benefit with JSA in 1996 is probably more important than New Deals – contributory entitlement cut to six months, then means-tested. It’s less clear why the CC/ILO gap hasn’t narrowed with the rise in unemployment – we would expect more claimants with contributions records so less of a gap. Skew in claimant unemployment towards low-pay high turnover jobs probably one factor.

I’d disagree with the overall assessment of the period from 1997-2008. Reversing the 1980′s and 1990′s rise in unemployment was a major change (though more to do with the fact there wasn’t a major recession than New Deal) and just looking at unemployment leaves out important changes in economic inactivity. The improvement is well known for lone parents (from 44% employment in 1995 to 58% in 2008) and, less well known, for those on sickness benefits (from about 2002). But this in a way supports the line of your argument, because these changes took place without the sort of get-tough policies which seem to be the default option for all parties these days.

9. Leon Wolfeson

@8 – In spite of the “get tough” policies, which have CAUSED more than a few of the long-term claims, rather, by pushing people into unemployable and sicker states.

For poorer people, the “contributory” phase of JSA is simply one with less benefits available.

@7 – Good points that I hadn’t thought of – I’m less confident about my explanation, though not entirely convinced (because of the gaps still not matching up).

The only thing I’d add is that UK average savings are about £2000 (a bit lower at the moment because of the recession – £1700) and I’d expect anyone who lost their job to have a propensity to lower savings, so the savings threshold effect still would not be huge, though it will be higher than I anticipated.

@8 – I sort of agree with your comment – though you say you disagree with my overall assessment I’m not sure our positions are so far apart.

That is, I think the important point is that obviously unemployment was a bit lower than in the 80s, but this was generally due to better general economic conditions (which the Treasury and the BoE probably had more to do with – if any element of government did) than any of the welfare reforms. This seems fairly uncontestible, since as soon as the general economic conditions reverted to their 80s equivalent, we’ve had 80s level of unemployment – though I suppose you could argue that it might have been worse had the reforms not been made (I’m yet to be convinced and I don’t think anyone has really tried to argue this though).

In both cases it seems like the “natural rate” of unemployment (a horrible concept but it’ll do) in ‘peace time’ when you include the welfare state’s effect was fairly similar – it’s just there were more recessions in the 80s.

So really two more points: By the general milestone of Labour’s own manifesto commitments, which were ostensibly towards full employment (though admittedly never talked up in speech rhetoric as far as I can remember) they did fail in that regard.

But I suppose another caveat, that of course Labour managed the economy a bit better than Tories did throughout the 80s and 90s, and that this fed through to lower unemployment – but this seems to have had nothing to do with changes to the welfare system, which is what I’m really being critical of here.

Part of the problem with the New Deal was it started off with great intentions and far too much money spent on stuff that didn’t matter… new desks, new computers, new noticeboards, new logos and expensive staff training at luxury hotels (including 5 star).

Then after two years it ran out of money, and all the options seemed to disappear.

One of the other problems that we will always have is a mismatch of “ability” or “aptitude” on the one hand, and jobs, on the other. To be politically incorrect, there are generations of jute workers, foundry workers, mill workers, miners, shipyard workers, suddenly expected to work in call centres and sales “executive” posts. Many of the people who are unemployed are simply not suitable for that kind of work, and they don’t want it.

We also have a huge problem of debt and of children, who have to be paid for out of meagre wages.

The under 21 minimum wage has been insultingly low. OK, the people had little experience or ability to offer in return, but burdened as they often were by vast amounts of debt which they had been allowed to take on (thanks to free credit); and equally having fathered 2, 3 or 4 children, they were in a position where working was going to make them not a penny better off… and in fact worse off, because there are expenses involved in working (food, clothes, social activities, travel, etc).

Another thing that the DWP seems to forget is the high number of, particularly young, people with criminal records, and the fact that most companies run a check. Maybe it’s fighting in the street, a bit of shop lifting, being caught with drugs, assault, housebreaking, car theft, driving with insurance… employers see this and don’t want to know. Liam Byrne might want to take on some of them for his office… on the other hand perhaps he wouldn’t.

There is also the question of drink and drugs. So many, again young people have problems with how much they drink, or that they are addicted to something or other. And again, no one wants to know them.

And of course the courses that they run are so often staffed by people who haven’t a clue what they are doing. I don’t mean all of you, but there are plenty. I’ve watched them do various kinds of training, not suited to the needs of the person, and so badly done it was unbelievable. People staring at ceilings, picking their nails, noses and….well anyway, paying no attention whatsoever…

There are many other issues, but that is a few to be going on with.

Ministers from either Labour or the Coalition seem to think that it is easy. Stop their money. That will soon make them work. But the people at ministerial level know squat about unemployment. Neither do the executives at the DWP. They all went to Eton or Rugby and then Oxbridge. And at their level they never ever see an unemployed person much less talk to him/her.

So no, it won’t work if there are the right jobs, if we can’t deal with the debt and the child maintenance, the drink, drugs and prison records.

That won’t work at all. They will end up sleeping in the street and begging or stealing to stay alive.

For once and for all we have to take a whole new view to unemployment and the unemployed. And one of the first things is that we should start treating [people with a bit of respect. I’ve been unemployed and I was treated like I was a lazy good for nothing scrounger, although I was able to find work within a fortnight (no thanks to Jobcentre)

13. Leon Wolfeson

@12 – Don’t worry, the Tories are working on making homelessness illegal. Solved, see!

Jon at the OP says: “The New Deal was a well-conceived and well-intentioned policy – in 1998. But it misunderstood the causes of the problem it sought to address, assuming that the unemployment was caused by individual failings of workers rather than the simple fact that there were not enough jobs to go around.”

I’m not quite clear how New Deal can have been “well-conceived” but also have “misunderstood the causes of the problem it sought to address”. Sounds a bit contradictory.

Moving on though, the early New Deal was actually pretty successful, not least because it didn’t actailly assume that “unemployment was caused by inidividual failings”. 1997-2000 was the height of the influence of the Social Exclusion Unit, and while some of the political philosophy that drove it was always a bit off-key, the policy actions that came out in the early days were reasonable in that they recognised long-term unemployment often had a range of causes, some of which related to the kind of lack of employability higlighted by commenters above.

Initially this led to some quite good programmes like the Intermediate Labour Market initiatives in Glasgow and other places (though some of these had there roots pre-New Labour). They were successful because a) they treated people with a respect that is now long gone b) they paid a living wage which meant people engaged properly with them rather than seeing them as punishment c) they were long enough (i.e. a year) for people to get their heads round being back in work and then moving on d) they developed real skills which were either directly or partly transferable into other jobs.

Of course the economic boom of the time meant that the placements could be directed at those people who would benefit most (as opposed, say, to the recent Future Jobs Fund, which tended to assist graduates and others with more initial emloyability – not a bad thing in itself but not what the original New Deal achieved).

Unfortunately, the ILM stuff didn’t last because although they were cost-effective they were quite costly in themselves (and there were doubts in central govt about replicability), and pressure came too fast, too soon, to introduce cheaper programmes e.g. through Employment Zones which were less effective and became seen by people as short-term placements rather than real jobs, after which they would return to the dole.

But the key point I wanted to make is that there is a valid place in the social policy armoury for initiatives that help people (properly) develop their employability – it’s not all about job availability- though of course in current circumstances there needs to be an acknowledgment that those on the margins are very unlikely to get work in the face of the now huge jobseeker-job ratios in most of the country. It’s simplistic to argue that Labour always blamed “individual failings”, and it militates against Labour learning from what it got right in its first term (again, in very different economic circumstances).

I know I’ll be talking to the disinterested but here goes:

Things as they stand are most certainly not fine.
Many people are becoming detached from working and the desire to work.

This can be contrasted by a recent influx of immigrants to the UK who have motivation, willingness to work, determination, skill, intelligence and are prepared to do the dirty manual work that was largely done by the British working class in days gone by.

There are now many thousands of people in the UK from, say, Eastern Europe or West Africa who are prepared to live in a shed at the end of someone’s garden or on a friend’s sofa in order to get up at 5.30 to pick fruit, work on building sites, give out parking tickets or work as security etc. Their lives are defined by long hours in poorly paid work (work which many able bodied British people can’t be bothered to get up and do themselves) and they still manage to send money back ‘home’ to their folks. Good luck to him/her it’s grim but they have dignity and a self respect which has been lost by many British people who feel less inclined to dirty their hands.

The presence of these people in the UK shows how this topic cannot be discussed using the simple formula “Cut benefits? Must be evil!” which although it is a vestige from a bygone era has been adopted by most on the left. There are jobs out there – but they aren’t as attractive or well paid as people would like.

So can some one here answer why should we be paying people sufficient welfare money to allow them to seek the jobs they would really really like to have rather than the ones which are available?

Lovely graphs, by the way.

@14 Paul – I think you’re probably right to say that I was slightly unfair about placements and training schemes – though it was mainly to streamline the article.

Obviously when someone has a need for training or experience then there’s nothing wrong with it. When done properly it can be seen as education of a sort, which obviously no one is really against. And I think in your comment you pretty much outlined some of the problems with the way those changes to the welfare system ended up – but I have to agree, I’m not against giving unemployed people jobs or training, if they’re serious and not exploitative.

But I still stand by the comment that the sharp focus on the individual was problematic. Even getting people trained up, giving them experience, and putting them in a working mindset is a bit of a zero-sum game unless net new jobs are being created for them to go into. If they’re not they’re just replacing other workers – which could be why you can see successes in the pilot schemes, with lots of the participants finding jobs, but no actual overall fall in unemployment when you look at the macro level.

@15 – Are there plenty of jobs available? I thought there were 23 jobseekers for every job on average throughout the UK

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8980001/Number-of-job-hunters-chasing-every-post-jumps-to-23.html

Kojak @ 15

Many people are becoming detached from working and the desire to work.

Unemployment is endemic throughout the World. Not just here but everywhere. You talk about Eastern Europe and Africa as two examples, well here is something to think about; unemployment is pretty high in those parts of the World too. In fact, in some Countries in those regions, unemployment is far, far, far higher than it is here. It doesn’t matter the level of benefits if there are not enough jobs to go round. You could be as lazy as a cuckoo’s young, but if there are too many people chasing too few jobs, then it doesn’t matter because there are always going to be unemployed people.

People get out competed in the marketplace, that is sad, but a fact of life. No matter where you are, people fall out of the labour market. That is true in Africa, India, North America and South America. Some of the World’s poorest Countries have people living in poverty and yet they cannot find work.

Same, thing happens here. We have people who get out competed by immigrants. To be honest, what goes around comes around. British people have been all over the World. From the top of Canada to the bottom lip of New Zealand and everwhere in between out competing the locals in the process. There is unemployment in Australia as well as South Africa and the Brits are doing jobs that the local unemployed cannot. The top end of our bell curve is rather successful compare to the lower end of theirs. Ditto Brazil, ditto South Africa, ditto Germany and ditto everywhere else.

So the top end of the Polish labour force is doing better than the bottom of the bell curve here? Is that so bad? What, are we so jingoistic that we think we are inherently superior? Our bell curve should out perform theirs? Our worse should be better than their best, that kind of thing? Is it possible? Is it viable to improve our WHOLE bell curve above the highest points in the Polish workforce?

Cutting benefits is not going to suddenly make everyone ‘better’ is it? In fact, look across the World. Does abject poverty make anyone better? Are the impoverished in South Americans better than us? Nope, what about the poor in Africa? Or the poor in the rust belts of North America? Do we get drug use, single parents, petty crime in America without anything resembling the welfare state we have? Are the unemployed in Detroit ‘nobler’ and more ‘moral’, than the British unemployed? What about the unemployed in Mexico, San Paulo or Santiago for that matter? Nope, it turns it the grinding poverty is no more appealing anywhere else in the World.

The Tories destroyed millions of jobs in the eighies and look what happened, suprise suprise mass unemployment. They are destroying jobs again and guess what? the same result.

Isn’t it a sign of madness? Repeating the same actions the same way and expecting different results?

19. Leon Wolfeson

@18 – I believe the sign is of “insanity”.

I agree, in any case. Cause and effect!

20. chip butty

I have been listening to this shitty language about acting “tough” & taking “hard decisions” for about 33 years now.

How about acting “intelligently” instead? Nope. Doesn’t go down well with the tabs apparently.

Does anyone actually think any of the three main parties want to see a return to full employment even if it was possible? You are joking, and I include New Labour with Ed Balls as shadow chancellor in this.

What is neoliberals nightmare #1? Inflation. (Thatcher famously said in 1979 that her principal priority was to reduce inflation, which then stood at 10%. When she left office it stood at, errr, 10%.)

Why don’t they want to see full employment?

Full employment leads to wage inflation because labour is scarce, this impacts on general inflation.

Full employment also leads to collective bargaining strength and hence strong trade unions.

Now which bloody neoliberal wants to see higher inflation & strong trade unions?

So someone has to take the rap when unemployment is used rather than inflation to control the economy and that somebody are the “workshy”, benefit scroungers” & “immigrants”. The three main parties welfare reform is not abouty getting people back into decent jobs, they just want to reduce the benefit bill and kick cliamants off welfare.

And to do so they are using workfare, despite evidence from all over the world that a) it doesn’t work; b) it’s bloody expensive.

Liam Byrne is just another Purnellite, New Labour is not going to change. The solution now rests not in Westminster, but in bodies like ‘Occupy’ and UKUncut’.

21. chip butty

@ Kojak. In addition to the points made in #18 I would like to add that immigrant workers who do very low paid jobs are very often young single people without the need to care for families, and who see this as a very temporary state. Young people can travel to do low paid work in another country and they do: such jobs do NOT represent a solution to high unemployment for the idigenous population, because they are not jobs which allow of ordinary life. They dont represent a “stepping stone” into secure employment either: they tend to be seasonal and in the past were done by poor people who travelled from one short term job to another: and by students in long vacations. As you say, it often involves living in substandard accommodation and working very long hours indeed.

“And yet we get this old, out of date idea from the man in charge of Labour’s policy review – well over a decade behind the evidence.”

I don’t think, frankly, that he (like the Tories) particularly gives a toss about the evidence. It polls well. It pleases the donors.

Blaming unemployment on the personal qualities of unemployed people, rather than on an economy which just contains a certain level of unemployment, is highly politically convenient. If you can get people to forget (or accept as just and proper) the fact that there are increasingly fewer jobs than people by pointing at anecdotes of outrageous laziness in the tabloids, then it seems to work just fine. Cameron’s better at the required faux-righteous rage than Miliband ever will be, though.

Of course, any fool could understand that if every “scrounger” were forced by threat of starvation to aggressively look for work 15 hours a day this would not result in full employment. Some currently unemployed people would become employed; some currently employed people would become unemployed. Yes, wages would probably fall a bit, and desperate people might be more tempted to take/keep jobs knowing the pay and conditions were illegal (going by Kojak’s comment above we could call this the Kojak solution!) – but really I can’t see how that increase in employment could be large. Falling wages is quite an appealing idea to employers (donors), though, if they don’t put two and two together and realise that such a policy would cut their customers’ wages too.

@ Kojak. In addition to the points made in #18 I would like to add that immigrant workers who do very low paid jobs are very often young single people without the need to care for families, and who see this as a very temporary state.

Bingo! Brilliant point.

I wonder – will the xenophobes who bang on about immigration understand that the problem is those self same low wages and that their argument is one about raising those pitiful wages, not shutting drawbridges to assuage their foolish paranoia about foreigners.

Agreeing with Penny (and I have been saying it, but I am just an ordinary person, not a member of the Westminster village). The problem with benefits isn’t, in any case, the benefits (which are punitively low and given with contemptuous reluctance). It’s the shape of our economy, which is engineered to produce too few jobs, and far too many of these jobs paid at offensively low rates. The objective is so obviously to produce a low-wage, low expectation workforce which can be exploited and dismissed at the whims of employers that the only surprising thing is the absence of outrage and protest at this blatant piece of far right wing social engineering. We can’t all be winning entrants in the dragon’s den but (and the media bear a lot of the blame here) the impression we have been sold is that only such entrepreneurial warrior heroes are deserving of admiration and respect. The rest are to be trodden into the mud face down and left to smother in middle England’s indifference.

We need to accept now that there will be no return to high employment. We also need to seriously think about restructuring society- and the economy- to these new realities. Welfare should be made more accessible- remove the stigma that goes with applying in the first place (remember, billions in payments are lost due to the fact that governments impose unrealistic and bureaucratic rules which prevent claimants applying). All the evidence throughout history shows that imposed compulsion doesn’t work, particularly if claimants live in areas of stubbornly high unemployment. Do politicians want to continue down the path where groups such as the disabled, the working poor and the very poor are forced into greater levels of destitution if they do not accept lower standards of living?
Too many Labour MPs like Byrne like to talk about tackling poverty without having any idea over how to achieve it… and they had thirteen years in government to try to do that, but they failed…and that is why they should never be taken seriously.

27. Leon Wolfeson

“Do politicians want to continue down the path…”

Yes. Really, do you always ask easy questions?

And ohnoes, the previous government only held the line on most poverty and reduced child poverty, for all the other flaws. You and your Tories are kicking the poor at every opportunity, then you whine here…

@22 You’re forgetting one important point. One which causes the right all sorts of consternation and frowny faces, and makes them wonder why the locals won’t live in a draughty shed being paid £3 an hour, for twelve hours a day, 6 days a week. – The poor and jobless aren’t supposed to be breeding, settling down, or starting families. That is the preserve of ‘the squeezed middle’ or above.

Hence why the jobless single mother with 5 kids by 7 different fathers is always held up for general revilement by the tabs.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Kayleigh Anne

    …[on welfare] much better for Left to point out Liam Byrne's ideas have been tried by Labour and NOT WORKED http://t.co/la9ydGRa

  2. Adam King

    …[on welfare] much better for Left to point out Liam Byrne's ideas have been tried by Labour and NOT WORKED http://t.co/la9ydGRa

  3. Ben Baumberg

    Labour's record in cutting benefits without cutting worklessness – @libcon via @BendyGirl http://t.co/pdguvMDs

  4. Ben Baumberg

    Labour's record in cutting benefits without cutting worklessness – @libcon via @BendyGirl http://t.co/18i1oP2d

  5. Chris Wills

    Very smart post from @joncstone: Why Liam Byrne and Labour's right are living in the failed past, on welfare http://t.co/la9ydGRa

  6. Chris Wills

    …[on welfare] much better for Left to point out Liam Byrne's ideas have been tried by Labour and NOT WORKED http://t.co/la9ydGRa

  7. Charlie Harmonica

    Very smart post from @joncstone: Why Liam Byrne and Labour's right are living in the failed past, on welfare http://t.co/la9ydGRa

  8. John Smith

    @libcon Byrne living in past on welfare reform http://t.co/9bTGSFZs > Saying 'there's not enough jobs' is as simplistic as blaming idleness

  9. Virginia Moffatt

    Why Liam Byrne and Labour’s right is living in the past on welfare reform | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/OsezeOTC via @libcon

  10. Celyn

    Re-living Liam Byrne & Labour’s failed past on welfare reform | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/jNrfxWt0 via @libcon

  11. Brnch Sec Ruth H

    Very smart post from @joncstone: Why Liam Byrne and Labour's right are living in the failed past, on welfare http://t.co/la9ydGRa

  12. barry f

    Very smart post from @joncstone: Why Liam Byrne and Labour's right are living in the failed past, on welfare http://t.co/la9ydGRa

  13. greg randall

    @joncstone re #Labour "welfare reform" 97-10 http://t.co/anfCTj79. Worth reading. #Byrne not a novelty or aberration. Need #newworkersparty

  14. Priya Shah

    Very smart post from @joncstone: Why Liam Byrne and Labour's right are living in the failed past, on welfare http://t.co/la9ydGRa

  15. Chris Salter

    Re-living Liam Byrne & Labour’s failed past on welfare reform | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/0MH8d7M9 #ppnews

  16. Beth Carley

    Labour's record in cutting benefits without cutting worklessness – @libcon via @BendyGirl http://t.co/pdguvMDs

  17. The assault on universalism: how to destroy the welfare state « ATOS REGISTER OF SHAME

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  18. Stef

    Why Liam Byrne and Labour's right is living in the past on welfare reform http://t.co/PIECvKmD

  19. Jon Stone

    A reminder why things like Work Programme, Flexible New Deal, etc, never reduce unemployment: they don't create jobs http://t.co/FLaoB21F

  20. Colin-Roy Hunter

    A reminder why things like Work Programme, Flexible New Deal, etc, never reduce unemployment: they don't create jobs http://t.co/FLaoB21F

  21. Finn McCann

    A reminder why things like Work Programme, Flexible New Deal, etc, never reduce unemployment: they don't create jobs http://t.co/FLaoB21F

  22. noslavehere

    A reminder why things like Work Programme, Flexible New Deal, etc, never reduce unemployment: they don't create jobs http://t.co/FLaoB21F

  23. Carlin Wilkowski

    A reminder why things like Work Programme, Flexible New Deal, etc, never reduce unemployment: they don't create jobs http://t.co/FLaoB21F

  24. Magapanthus Smith

    A reminder why things like Work Programme, Flexible New Deal, etc, never reduce unemployment: they don't create jobs http://t.co/FLaoB21F

  25. Ian Mooney

    A reminder why things like Work Programme, Flexible New Deal, etc, never reduce unemployment: they don't create jobs http://t.co/FLaoB21F

  26. Janet Graham

    A reminder why things like Work Programme, Flexible New Deal, etc, never reduce unemployment: they don't create jobs http://t.co/FLaoB21F





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