Forced Labour

by richardhutton

The Labour Party today outlined its intention to force the long-term unemployed to accept temporary jobs, or have their social security stopped:

‘Unemployed must be ‘working and training, not claiming’, says Labour’

“The unemployed need to be “working and training, not claiming”, the shadow work and pensions secretary, Liam Byrne, said, as he outlined Labour’s plans to protect itself from the politically damaging charge that it is soft on welfare claimants”.

This is money for old rope.

In 2011, David Cameron announced that people unable to find a job after two years in the government’s work programme would be forced to undertake community work on a full-time basis, or face losing their social security.

In 2008, Labour Housing Minister, Caroline Flint, warned that council house tenants would have to find work, or lose their homes.

The same year, Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell proposed that unemployed people would be forced to take work placements once they had claimed benefits for more than a year, or have their social security stopped.

Strangely, none of these seem to have realised that you can only continue to recieve Job Seeker’s Allowance if you are actively seeking work; and that if you refuse a job offer, your social security is stopped.

It is noteworthy that politicians feel there is need to protect themselves from accusations of being soft on welfare claimants, when the current unemployment programmes are highly punitive, and Britain’s expenditure on unemployment protection is among the lowest in Europe. This is not about tackling unemployment, because it is not intended to create any real change in actual policy. It’s about making recipients more vulnerable to marginalisation and stigma; in order to make it increasingly easy to remove peoples’ statutory rights to financial support, based on need.