Work Unfare? — February 18, 2012

Work Unfare?

This week has seen the revival of the debate over the Coalition’s Workfare programme, due to an administrative error” by Tesco and/or the JSA website. Tesco were advertising a job which paid only JSA + expenses. This led to Lefties everywhere to scream “SLAVE LABOUR”.

Now of course, Tesco are not in favour of slave labour. Nobody in the Government is in favour of slave labour. To even accuse a company in Britain of it, deeply undermines the fact that, yes, in reality slave labour truly does exist in 2012.

The Coalition’s policy is to make some people work for their benefits. Now this obviously doesn’t mean that all benefit claimants have to work for benefits, not at all, something some on the Left cannot seemingly get their head around. The Coalition’s policy is targeting those who are on Job Seekers Allowance who can work, but are turning down jobs or not actively seeking them. Which is the key condition of being on JSA. The Workfare programme offers work to those on JSA and if they turn it down then they will lose their benefits. “Failure to actively seek employment or be available for work will lead to payment ceasing for four weeks for a first failure and up to three months for a second.” (Universal Credit Document)

Those on the Left seem to think that if you are “forced” to work for your benefits that the state is treating you like a slave – far from it. One student claimed it was against her human rights to stack shelves at Poundland. By extension, does she think it is her human right to sit on her arse all day and happily claim taxpayers money?

If you are capable of working and continuously reject jobs then you should lose your benefits. The Workfare programme offers a something for something scenario. You work for your benefits. The problem is for too long under Labour people thought they were entitled to benefits and to remain on them. Benefits are not a right, they were supposed to act as a safety net, not as a safety blanket.

Now those on the Far-Right aren’t happy about Workfare either, that stems from their hatred of the government-funded welfare state. They want to do aware with any government support and have any benefits funded by charity. This seems a bit too much of a reach for me, removing the welfare state would harm the deserving poor. Those who for no fault of their own are poor and should be protected by the state. The state should not be embarrassed to protect its citizens who are most in need of help.

Those on the Right, like the Left are annoyed that taxpayer money is paying for labour for big firms like Poundland and Tesco. The best case scenario for the Workfare programme in my opinion would be to have claimants work for their local council so that they are giving something back to their local area. They could undertake programmes similar to community service or public work projects. But let me guess, those on the Left would claim this type of hard work is demeaning? In reality when some of these stints last only two or three weeks you can understand why these civil projects aren’t feasible.

Iain Duncan Smith said this in last week’s Independent: “My message is clear: we must restore fairness to the claimant through making work pay and fairness to the taxpayer by ensuring money isn’t wasted on trapping people on benefits.”

A message well worth remembering!