A liberal left welfare reform plan


11:00 am - May 29th 2013

by Don Paskini    


      Share on Tumblr

Labour MP Simon Danzcuk wrote an article recently attacking the ‘Metropolitan liberal wing’ of the Left for their support of the status quo on welfare and their opposition to any kind of welfare reform. Striking a similar tone, Isabel Hardman in the Telegraph noted ‘the Left’s lack of resolve’ on welfare reform, citing the way that Labour ‘scuttled away’ from reforming the assessment of entitlement to disability benefits.

In both cases, the assumption is that opposing one particular daft idea necessarily implies support for the status quo. Those of us on the Metropolitan liberal left have all sorts of ideas for reforming the welfare state. These include:

1. Introduce universal, affordable childcare.

2. Make work pay by increasing the minimum wage above inflation, expanding the number of employers who pay a living wage, and introducing a Community Allowance, where people can take on ‘mini jobs’ of up to 16 hours per week with community organisations while continuing to receive their benefits.

3. Allow councils to borrow to build hundreds of thousands of new homes, and take on vested interests in the private rented sector.

4. Cancel Atos’ contract and enable disabled people to co-design a reformed Work Capability Assessment which treats people with dignity and reduces the error rate from 17% to under 1%.

5. Introduce a Right to Paid Work, offering socially useful jobs of at least 25 hours per week paid at the minimum wage to all people unemployed for two years or more.

6. Replace the Work Programme with grant funding for charities to support unemployed people to develop their skills and find work.

7. Develop a national strategy to ensure that by 2020 no one has to rely on a foodbank to feed themselves or their family.

8. Introduce new government targets to reduce poverty for pensioners and working age adults as well as children. Set a target that poverty for all three groups should be lower in 2020 than it was in 2010.

9. Link increases in benefits to increases in earnings.

10. Delay implementation of universal credit, cancel localisation of Council Tax Benefit, and instead focus on improving and simplifying the current system by reducing the error rate, expanding Social Fund crisis grants and loans, and improving the quality of service offered by Jobcentres to claimants.

*

The last time that the liberal left had significant influence on welfare policy was between 1997 and roughly 2004, a time which saw record falls in poverty amongst children and pensioners, and increases in employment rates amongst groups such as lone parents and disabled people. The centre right reform agenda, led under successive governments by David Freud over the past few years, has been far less impressive, marked by bold claims about reform combined with remarkable incompetence in delivery.

It might give right wing politicians a thrill to promise yet another biggest shake up since Beveridge or crack down on scroungers, but I think we’ve had quite enough of them overclaiming, underdelivering and then trying to fix the evidence to cover it up. Instead, the liberal left’s approach is focused on achievable solutions to the real problems facing people on low incomes.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: a) Section ,Labour party ,The Left

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


Sick & disabled people and carers would be much more assured of their rights being respected if the liberal left openly supported the WOW Petition, crowd sourced by and for sick & disabled people and carers, we know what we need, we know what we are talking about because we live the lives that are currently under such devastating stress caused by Freud et al, who have zero awareness of the realities of life with illness or disability and who have treated us all like criminals, it cannot go on. We are sick of being talked about in the classic ‘do they take sugar’ style, listen to us and stop this war on our welfare and the attack on our human rights. Time to be an ally and listen, This piece is a useful start, thank you Don I hope more can come from this and People’s assemblies to counter the neoliberal consensus of brutal persecution.
http://wowpetition.com

Sick & disabled people and carers would be much more assured of their rights being respected if the liberal left openly supported the WOW Petition, crowd sourced by and for sick & disabled people and carers, we know what we need, we know what we are talking about because we live the lives that are currently under such devastating stress caused by Freud et al, who have zero awareness of the realities of life with illness or disability and who have treated us all like criminals, it cannot go on. We are sick of being talked about in the classic ‘do they take sugar’ style, listen to us and stop this war on our welfare and the attack on our human rights. Time to be an ally and listen, This piece is a useful start, thank you Don I hope more can come from this and People’s assemblies to counter the neoliberal consensus of brutal persecution.

3. Chaise Guevara

7 and 8 don’t really count, you may as well say “the Left beleive in developing a strategy to turn the UK into a utopia by 2020” and leave it at that. Otherwise some good suggestions here. I’ve been saying for ages we need lots of state-built homes to drag house prices down to sane levels.

How about a nice simple guaranteed minimum income? Hand everyone in the country enough money to survive on (say, the equivalent of income support+housing benefit), and then tax every penny that everyone makes over that.

If you balance it right then you don’t give any money (net) to people that earn well, and you make it much easier for people to take small, part time, jobs to increase their income, while removing a massive amount of bureaucracy.

From that point on, nobody starves, people in godawful low-level jobs can quit if their working conditions are too bad, and you can also get rid of minimum wage legislation, because people can choose to just not work if the pay is too low (or choose to work for a pittance if they feel it’s worthwhile, meaning that jobs that are otherwise not worth it for employers are now feasible).

5. Mad Bad Bob

@Andrew Ducker – How about a nice simple guaranteed minimum income?

“a flat rate kind of welfare, call it Citizen’s Income or Citizen’s Dividend if you will, which is paid out to every citizen regardless of circumstances”

http://www.citizensincome.org/

Andrew Ducker hits the nail on the head. Citizen’s Income will hit the spot (Mad Bad Bob links to the website, the new booklet with updated 2012-13 figures should appear shortly).

And of course, you can make an enormous saving on the “Housing Benefit” bit by simply building more social housing and renting it out at cost (or paying every family enough HB to cover that cost, i.e. about £100 per week for a family home, half that for a studio flat).

Further, and this is the really radical bit, you can fund that Citizen’s Income out of a tax on rental values, no need to tax earnings at all…

“Welfare reform” is code for privatisation and cuts. Unfortunately Simon Danzcuk is clearly a red Tory.

Sod the “liberal left” though. They are enemies of socialism.

8. Matthew Blott

I started reading this list with interest as up until halfway it made sense. Unfortunately after point 5 Don Paskini reverts to metropolitan liberal type and we get meaningless waffle. Example, point 7 says to ensure people don’t rely on food banks we need to “develop a national strategy” but what on earth does that mean? Anyone of any political bent could say the same.

9. So Much For Subtlety

So basically spend more money on people on welfare?

This ignores the fact that we do not have more money to spend. We continue to increase the debt by a deficit measured in the billions. Britain is looking more and more like Argentina or Greece. Spending more money is not a solution. It also ignores the fact that welfare changes behaviour. We have enough people in the feral underclass. We do not need to add to it. Welfare reform must include obligations on the welfare recipients so that there are changes in their dysfunctional behaviours.

It is pointless to talk about reform without noting these two facts.

10. Mad Bob Bob

@ So Much For Subtlety “Welfare reform must include obligations on the welfare recipients so that there are changes in their dysfunctional behaviours”.

“dysfunctional behaviours”? You wouldn’t care to expand on that, only it is my uunderstanding that over have of the welfare budget is spent paying the state old age pension (ok, so the elderly are often accused of being dysfunctional) and of the reaminder of the budget, the vast majority is paid out as “in work benefits”.

” We have enough people in the feral underclass. We do not need to add to it.” Care to try and explain that too?

11. Derek Hattons Tailor

What is “affordable childcare” ? Affordable to whom, and unless you want the carers to work for nothing who pays for it. How is paying for middle class women to keep their careers on track part of a welfare strategy.

12. So Much For Subtlety

10. Mad Bob Bob

You wouldn’t care to expand on that

Not really.

Care to try and explain that too?

I don’t need to *explain* anything. That makes it sound like I said something that is not true and 100% universally acknolwedged. By all sensible people anyway. Deal with it.

13. Old observer

The demand by far right reactionaries for the left to be equally reactionary is amusing. There is nothing courageous about the war on the poor by the trustafarians of New Labour and Tory/ Lib Dems.

Tax the rich and big business; build council houses; restore the welfare state.

These “ideas” read a bit like a wish list of stuff we could do if we had a magical bottomless sack of money and we could also magic away all the inevitable, negative consequences of doing many of these things. As we don’t have a magical bottomless sack of money, and the ideas don’t even acknowledge the negative consequences let alone have any sort of address for them, we can conclude it’s just the stuff of fairytales. As they stand these “ideas” are just as plausible as the idea that an invisible pink unicorn will make it all better.

15. Mad Bad Bob

@ So Much For Subtlety – 12:58 am, May 31, 2013

Excellent response to what “all sensible people” would regard as a couple of sensible questions.

“Not really” when asked if you might explain what you meant by “the dysfunctional behaviours of welfare recipents” and “I don’t need to *explain* anything.” when asked to explain your “We have enough people in the feral underclass. We do not need to add to it.” comment. Your nom de plume is well chosen. But then you presumably think the same of mine, given my propensity for expecting people to back up wild allegations and throw away assertions with the odd fact or two. You don’t moonlight for the Centre for Social Justice by any chance?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy: A liberal left welfare reform plan | moonblogsfromsyb

    […] via Don Paskini Liberal Conspiracy http://liberalconspiracy.org/2013/05/29/a-liberal-left-welfare-reform-plan/ […]

  2. A liberal left welfare reform plan

    […] This article was written by Don Paskini for liberalconspiracy.org on 29th May 2013 […]





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.