Benefit Reform

As I'm fond of telling you all I'm a big fan of the idea of benefit reform, unfortunately some fool put the government in charge and they aren't much cop at it. The principles behind it are mostly fine but in practice the con artists will be mildly inconvenienced and DWP staff will take it out on the vulnerable, the respectable and the genuine. I'm rapidly forming the view that the only way to get a good deal in this country is to be obnoxious and intimidating. If you tell the truth and try to follow the rules the ferocity of the state knows few bounds.

Anyway that oaf they've put in charge of benefits got off to a good start when he said:

'We will not repeat the mistakes of the eighties and nineties when thousands of people were moved further away from employment by condemning them to a life on Incapacity Benefits. This only makes it harder for them to find work and get their lives back on track.'

In fairness to the last Tory administration they believed that many of the then unemployed would never work again and thought the best they could do for them was get them as much money as possible -it is also worth pointing out that almost all this money goes straight back into the economy, benefit claimants not having much to save.

Of course the left used to argue that these people had a right to work, then lowered their sights to a right to benefits instead. I doubt the existence of a substantial underclass was the intention but the combined efforts of the left and right have made it so. The government's vision of everyone working to the best of their ability in the interests of both themselves and wider society is a good one which makes it all the more frustrating that they're going about it in the wrong way.

The first part that caught my eye concerned my chums the single mums. I view motherhood, something for which I am devoid of talent, as rather heroic. I can and do put others before myself from time to time in my daily life but to have to do it all the time is unthinkable. Only a lottery win and a good nanny would compel me to breed. For me the ideal would be not just two parent households but close extended families. Children are wonderful unconscious comedians and a joy but they require a lot of looking after. Not least to protect them from aunties bearing gifts and telling tall tales about their adventures on the high seas. Still the world is not ideal and we are where we are.

Returning to the point the government propose to 'pilot conditionality for workless parents of children younger than currently planned.' Personally I don't believe that anyone with care of children under five should be under any pressure at all to work. The early years are precious and however good full time pre-school care might be, it is no substitute for anything but the worst parent's care. After that I think making any benefits dependant upon searching for work is fair enough except where the parent is in further or higher education or training for work in which case I think the cut off point can reasonably be extended to 12 to allow single parents the chance to pick up their education where they left off.

I would also like to see the introduction of an absent parents tax band and benefit level except in situations where maintenance is being paid. It should be socially unacceptable for absent parent (usually fathers) to resort to every trick in the book to evade paying for their own children but it isn't. In fact it's endemic, in my last job I would expect to see a total of 20 clients a week, of them at least three would be men seeking to evade CSA payments. Not one I ever encountered felt any shame regarding their failure to support their own children. Instead they either thought of child support as something the state should take care of because they were on benefits or something they shouldn't have to pay because the mother was neglecting or mistreating the children. Curiously not one father felt he had a duty to report this neglect or mistreatment to anyone other than the CSA which, in my book at least, makes him complicit. In any case benefits and child maintenance are not rewards for good motherhood they are payments to the parent with care -nothing more.

The government have stated that parents can place reasonable restrictions on their availability for work to take account of their childcare commitments. They have also stated that childcare will be made available throughout the land. I have my doubts about how this will work in practice. In my experience DWP staff delight in their power over claimants and never miss an opportunity to withdraw benefit. The exception to this curiously enough being any claimant likely to turn violent. I can't see them being terribly sympathetic to anyone who refuses to take up work because of a lack of good quality, affordable childcare available locally.

It is worth mentioning that parents can currently claim up to 80% of child care costs back in tax credits, I'd like to see this extended to allow parents to nominate a family member to receive payment for child care provided during their working hours. Payment at 80% of the minimum wage up to a maximum of thirty hours seems reasonable to me and represents a cheaper option than paying private rates. I would also set the applicable benefit amount for a couple at exactly twice that of a single person to encourage the take up of employment by at least one member of the household and disincentivise the relatively rare but not not unheard of trick of separating in order to play the system.

The government claim to want people to work which makes their treatment of people who have worked all the more baffling. Consider how a twenty year old who left school at sixteen for employment but now finds themselves unemployed might feel at receiving only £47.95 per week contribution based Jobseekers Allowance, when someone aged 25 who has never worked gets £60:50 per week. If the government values work and if National Insurance contributions are to mean anything at all then this meaningless age differential should be done away with. Anyone who has made sufficient contributions should be paid at the highest rate, those that haven't the lower. The only exception to this I would make are people coming off Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance who should not be discouraged from making themselves available for work if they wish to.

There is also the fact that someone just out of work is more likely to want back into to it quickly to maintain their lifestyle. Instead of making them sign on every two weeks I'd like to see them given a lump sum equivalent to six weeks benefit when they first register. If they enter employment before six weeks is up, then they're up on the deal. If not then they should sign on monthly for up to six months at which point it's every two weeks. Yes this would, in some cases, mean paying out more benefit than is required but it would also create an incentive to find work quickly and a small reward for work done and taxes paid.

The government make no mention of this or anything resembling it. Instead their grand plan is to compel people who have been unemployed for two years or more take part in some form of full time activity including voluntary work. This does nothing to address the massive two year gap in the CV prior to taking up 'full-time activity'. As someone who has worked in the voluntary sector I am also concerned about the havoc that forced volunteering (forgive the oxymoron) is likely to cause. Instead I'd incentivise taking up voluntary work much earlier on by paying income based JSA at the higher rate for those engaged in voluntary work of of more than 16 hours per week, with an equivalent raise for those on contribution based benefit. In addition I'd allow them to keep any expenses paid out by the charity concerned. However I do not think the unemployed should be engaged in any sort of full time activity, surely a substantial portion of their time should be devoted to finding paid work. A ceiling of 25 hours unpaid work would allow sufficient time to work voluntarily and look for paid employment.

In addition to the above I would also like to see the reasons the person has been unemployed for two years addressed. I used to sign on behind a chap who couldn't even write his own name- something of a barrier to him finding employment that harrassing him to apply for jobs was unlikely to remedy. I would also like to see more large employers reviewing their application processes for low skilled jobs. Really what is the point of a large and off putting application form for a cleaning job?

Under the current system after six months National Insurance contributions run out for unemployment benefit. I would extend that to twelve months before the claimant goes on to the non-contributory rate unless they took up voluntary work in which case they could remain on the contributory rate of £60:50 (single) or £121.00 (couple) depending on their household income for a further twenty four months.

The government also make great play of the help and support to be made available to help people back to work. Incredibly DWP staff are actually being given the responsibility of providing this 'help and support'. In practice this involves 'help and support' for folk who don't really need it, whilst those that do are landed on charities and private companies. Naturally under the governments proposals charities and companies will receive funding based on results. I have grave doubts as to whether any account will be taken of the amount of work required in providing the support required in getting the 'difficult cases' back to work. I am also quite certain that private companies will use every trick in the book to dump the most difficult cases on to the charities.

With regard to the take treatment or lose money proposal to deal with drug addicts, I can't say I'm a fan. Unwilling addicts taking up valuable and scare rehab places helps no one. It is also worth pointing out that getting a methadone prescription would be classed as treatment. There aren't many smackos not on the methadone programme. Rather than give addicts full cash benefits I'd prefer them to be issued with food, travel and utility tokens with a very small cash payment. Whilst I realise this would in the short term cost the state more it would provide more of an incentive to clean up than the current system does. Incidentially I don't believe this would lead to large increase in crime. We are often told the average heroin habit costs £200 a day an amount far in excess of any benefits currently paid to anyone.

For reasons of space I have confined myself to work- seeking/potentially work seeking benefits. I will come onto disability benefits and the social fund in later posts.



Anonymous said...

A cheaper, and more radical way of dealing with smackheads would be to legalise it. In a stroke it would be purer, cheaper, take the crime out of it, and help rebuild Afghanistan too. Saying it sounds so simple, but tbh I think anything less wouldn't really help.

asquith said...

Lovely post: in particular, your ideas on voluntary work chime with mine. I am an ex-vilunteer meself :)

I've heard some truly ludicrous ideas being planned, such as making people do "voluntary" work (which would be a failure for the reasons you suggest) & paying them a kind of salary to do it (just plain wrong for all sorts of reasons that I would have hoped would be obvious).

Best to simply pay JSA at the normal rate, or possibly a system like the New Deal, but for all claimants. It could formally become part of the JSAG, be treated as a job search activity, & they could even be exempted from signing on.

In recession-plagued times, the last thing we want is a younger generation with blank CVs. There may not be paid work for them & trying to create it may well do more harm than good.

This is a system with a bare minimum of state involvement. Workhouse Purnell talks about work giving structure & meaning to people's lives (& is right there, even if his policies are the usual toss you'd expect from a toff who has never done a day's proper work or been poor in his life), why is voluntary work any different?

I don't think it is likely: Labour are obsessed with the short-term "gain" of getting people off the JSA books, & don't realise that not only will they not do that, they won't do anything else, they won't help the claimants or the rest of society.

Additionally, voluntary organisations cope far better with the disabled than profit-making companies. In general, remove pretty much any restrictions on voluntary activity. Why not? It is better than sitting around, & if necessary they can supply proof that they are doing something. When I volunteered at Citizens' Advice there were some people on the New Deal who had to get a manager's signature to verify that they were there, working. This could be done for all claimants. Information could be given whenever someone goes to sign.

If Broon is serious about this recession not scarring the country like the last two, which I don't think he is, he'll drop his obsession with the old ways & consider this idea which we both have.

Clairwil said...

I've nothing against legalising smack or any other recreational drug for that matter but legalistation does not prevent addiction.

Drugs only become a problem for society when the prevent the user/addict functioning as a full member of the community. The same can be said of alcohol.

My proposal above was only intended to deal with how I think the benefits system rather than the wider law should deal with addiction.

By introducing a system that's more reliant than ever on people finding work in a recession, Brown and co are going to have to find something for the unemployed to do if they want them to work because the real paid jobs just aren't going to be there for them to go to for the forseeable future. Encoraging voluntary activity is one way of keeping folk occupied until something better comes along. Forcing them in to it just stigmatises voluntary work and makes life harder for charities.

Anonymous said...

A片,A片,A片,A片,A片,A片情趣商品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣用品,情趣商品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣用品,情趣商品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣用品,,情趣,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品.情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,視訊聊天室,情趣,情趣用品,情趣,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣麻將,台灣彩卷,六合彩開獎號碼,運動彩卷,六合彩,遊戲,線上遊戲,cs online,搓麻將,矽谷麻將,明星三缺一, 橘子町,麻將大悶鍋,台客麻將,公博,game,,中華職棒,麗的線上小遊戲,國士無雙麻將,麻將館,賭博遊戲,威力彩,威力彩開獎號碼,龍龍運動網,史萊姆,史萊姆好玩遊戲,史萊姆第一個家,史萊姆好玩遊戲區,樂透彩開獎號碼,遊戲天堂,天堂,好玩遊戲,遊戲基地,無料遊戲王,好玩遊戲區,麻將遊戲,好玩遊戲區,小遊戲,電玩快打情趣用品,情趣,A片,AIO,AV,AV女優,A漫,免費A片,情色,情色貼圖,色情小說,情色文學,色情,寄情竹園小遊戲,色情遊戲,AIO交友愛情館,色情影片,情趣內衣,情趣睡衣,性感睡衣,情趣商品,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人,18成人,成人影城,成人圖片,成人貼圖,成人圖片區,UT聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室 ,哈啦聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,聊天室尋夢園,080苗栗人聊天室,080聊天室,視訊交友網,視訊借錢,黃金,黃金回收,黃金價格,黃金買賣,當舖,中古車,二手車A片,A片,成人網站,成人影片,色情,情色網,情色,AV,AV女優,成人影城,成人,色情A片,日本AV,免費成人影片,成人影片,SEX,免費A片,A片下載,免費A片下載,做愛,情色A片,色情影片,H漫,A漫,18成人,情色電影,自拍,成人電影a片,色情影片,情色電影,a片,色情,情色網,情色,av,av女優,成人影城,成人,色情a片,日本av,免費成人影片,成人影片,情色a片,sex,免費a片,a片下載,免費a片下載,成人網站,做愛,自拍A片,A片,A片下載,做愛,成人電影,18成人,日本A片,情色小說,情色電影,成人影城,自拍,情色論壇,成人論壇,情色貼圖,情色,免費A片,成人,成人光碟18成人,成人聊天室,成人電影,成人圖片,成人貼圖,成人圖片區,成人影片,成人文章,成人小說,微風成人區,成人交友,成人文學,成人漫畫,成人遊戲,免費成人影片 ,成人論壇,愛情公寓,情色,色情網站,情色A片,色情小說,情色文學

Anonymous said...

香港女星寫真,a片分享,美女色情裸體,台灣kiss情色貼圖,美腿圖,正妹,日本情色網,情色卡通下載,免費下載的做愛照片,線上a片免費看,tube影片,情色成人,ro 私服論壇,色情網,aaa片免費看短片分享區,日本人妻熟女自拍貼圖,蕃薯論壇,台灣網友自拍貼照,嘟嘟成人網,狂插漂亮美眉,8591論壇,女同志聊天室,人妻俱樂部網站,背包客棧論壇,成人性感內衣,看美女脫光光,黑澀會美眉無名,色咪咪貼影片,無碼a片,aa片免費看,免費線上觀看a片,做愛的圖片,色情漫畫,性感卡通美女圖片,香港a片,自拍,情色圖書館,plus 28 論壇,1007視訊,熟女自拍照,苗栗人聊天室,黑澀會美眉即時通,jp成人,色情,aaaaa片俱樂部,情侶歡愉用品,

okav成人影院,網友裸體自拍,交友ukiss,娘家影片,a片免費,黑澀會美眉即時通,人妻性交俱樂部,聊天室尋夢園,18禁,情色性感美女圖片,美女短片免費試看,3級女星寫真,情色短片論壇,摯愛中年聊天室,美腿貼圖,影音聊天,聊天室找一夜,g世代論壇,免費線上影片,淫蕩少女,火辣美眉自拍寫真貼圖,內衣寫真秀,美少女自拍,aa片免費看影片,麗的情色,gogo2sex,aooyy 成人玩具,台灣成人網,素人自拍,

Anonymous said...

sogo情色網,小魔女免費影片,9k躺伯虎聊天室,只有貼圖區,網路美女,a片小遊戲,比基尼辣妹影片,視訊交友90739,免費色情影片,星光情色討論版,18禁地戀愛遊戲,廁所偷拍,18禁,台灣kiss情色文學,線上看,飯島愛影片觀看,免費線上影片,美腿論壇,聊天室找一夜,情色自拍,影音日誌,自拍片,寫真女郎攝影網,網愛聊天室,情色文學網,av女優dvd,dudu 嘟嘟貼圖區,比基尼辣妹影片,視訊聊天室,自拍照片,成人論壇,模特兒寫真,a片dvd,情色偷拍,美女遊戲,666 貼圖區,成人短片,線上觀看a片,免費a片線上看,080 聊天室,情色交友,女生自衛影片,男男貼圖區,免費線上觀看a片,模特兒,家庭教師影片,情色貼片,美女貼圖片區,免費aa片試看,成人貼圖區,網際論壇,

線上直播a片,免費a圖a片,080 聊天室,av視訊,情色交友,模特兒,自拍影片,真實自拍,嘟嘟情色,視訊,免費視訊聊天室,壞朋友論壇fliendo,成人a片,美女交友,383v live實境影音秀,嘟嘟貼圖,花王自拍,飯島愛寫真集,微風寫真網,忘年之交聊天室,爽翻天成人用品,正妹百人斬,383影音live秀,美女做愛,天天情色,免費視訊聊天室,vlog電眼美女,聊天室080,情色貼片,無碼女優,showlive影音聊天網,日本女優,都都成人站,視訊會議,080 苗栗人聊天室,洪爺情色網,北部人聊天室,一葉晴貼圖區,色遊戲,同志影片,aaaa片俱樂部,免費影片線上直播,ut男同志聊天室,貼影片,免費a片下載,歐美模特兒寫真,百分百成人圖片,ut 女同聊天室,夫妻自拍,