Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Back to the workhouse

Well, it had to happen. New Labour's mission to take us back to the nineteenth century is nearing completion with the latest welfare reform package. The claim that the reforms are there to help people back to work rings very hollow indeed. Lavish handouts to bankers contrast with the battering that those who the bankers have made redundant can expect.

The whole package, modeled on the American workfare system, amounts to the privatisation of welfare in the UK. And guess who designed it? David Freud a banker and chum of Gordon Brown's who has since defected to the Tories. While bankers still get their taxpayer bail out bonuses the unemployed are expected to subsist on a humiliating £60.50 per week, and for this they will have to jump through a number of degrading hoops. Single parents, with children as young as one will be dragooned into seeking work. If we had a decent child care system like they have in Sweden it would be far easier for single parents to look for work with the confidence that their children were being properly cared for but no such luck in Gradgrind Britain.

When I was unemployed in the 1970's unemployment benefit, payable to people for twelve months, was an entitlement - not a hand-out. I'm sure that the million plus people who lose their jobs for no fault of their own in the next year will appreciate New Labour's 'generosity'. I suppose at least they are not being expected to sweep the streets wearing day-glo vests with 'unemployed' or 'welfare recipient' blazoned across them - not yet anyway.

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