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Frank speaking on welfare dependency?

You have to hand it to the Tories. Hiring Frank Field as ‘poverty tsar’ to do a seven month study with no implications for the ‘financial’ side of things (e.g. benefits) is a brilliant stroke. Not only will they be able to parade in their non-partisan laurels when the report is delivered, but it’ll be tweedle-dum to Iain Duncan-Smith’s tweedle-dee.

Banging the education drum will be met with Tory plans to ‘individualise’ education provision by reintroducing credits for kids to go to private schools. Any action recommended to reduce poverty already has handcuffs placed upon it – it must be ‘consistent with the government’s fiscal strategy’ – and IDS has already made clear what that means.

[1.4 million long term unemployed] is set against a backdrop of 13 years of continuously increasing expenditure, which has outstripped inflation…Worse than the growing expense, though, is the fact that the money is not even making the impact we want it to. A system that was originally designed to support the poorest in society is now trapping them in the very condition it was supposed to alleviate.

It should be easy to read between the lines and see what the Tories are aiming at: cutting costs, plain and simple. What’s more is that IDS makes it easy for me to be so cynical; he clearly doesn’t understand the welfare system that he has been put in charge of, as Conservative Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

There are specific measures for low-earners which the Labour government instituted, to ease the transition from welfare to work, and to ensure that in all cases, working would pay more – even drawing a specific low-paid benefit if wages were tight. This isn’t all; the continuing narrative about welfare dependency and an indifferent state is nonsense.

IDS suggested that, “People basically get parked on [incapacity] benefit and forgotten about.” Which is nonsense. It was Labour which introduced harsher assessments for existing benefits claimants as well as introducing ESA, Employment and Support Allowance, to separate off short-term from long-term illness, with corresponding assessments.

Basically Iain Duncan-Smith is taking the credit for Labour’s wankerish attitude to social welfare. And it all fits within the continued line that no matter how much money is thrown at poverty, money alone will not cure it. In this context education and all sorts of things are mentioned. Which is silly, because even if everyone who could work had a degree, we’d simply have the best educated workforce of shop assistants and bus drivers in the world.

Meanwhile nothing would have been done about low pay and the cyclical nature of unemployment, which have been identified as key sources of poverty by every report since the 19th century.

From 1997/8-2004/5, Labour’s clear increases in benefits reduced poverty. Between ’97 and ’01, social security benefits climbed by six billion and retirement pensions were boosted by about seven billion. And poverty dropped. After ’05, spending declined as a percentage of GDP and the rising unemployment precipitated by the economic crisis spread the spending (which still increased in real terms) over more people.

Unsurprisingly, poverty rose. Obviously I’ve simplified things considerably, but one would think there are easy conclusions that can be drawn. They don’t have to be if you can get Frank Field on to cover your Left flank.

2 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    What do you say about all this, I’m of course classed as disabled, I’ve spent a long time in labour 40 odd years, but walked away in 2005 over Labours Welfare reforms.

    Here is a little bit of what New Labours plans worked for me, I’m classed as being Paraplegic, ie I damaged my spinal cord after an accident, have lost the use of my bowel bladder sexual function, have massive difficulty getting around.

    Under the new Labours ESA back to work medical, I’m able to work, which is nice to know.

    But as i go down to my Job Center I get told by the job center your chance of finding work is zero, so we will send you to training, can you pay for training, my first training course was on the DDA, cost to me five hundred pounds, last year my job center thought a computer course leading to a qualification would be the best bet, so asked me to pay one thousand six hundred pounds, when I refused i was called a defeatist.

    So going to the job center being told that although your in a wheelchair work will be the same as if you can work, the first job I was told to go after was window cleaner, then taxi driver, even though I cannot drive for hire.

    Bricklayer even though I’m not trained, plaster even though I’ve never done it in my life, then I was stuck on Asda waiting list to be the retard in the wheelchair.

    Will the Tories be any better, nope but the target they are after is cuts to benefits, I can understand that, for the life of me I could not understand new labour what did you want me to do.

    I did not vote labour at the last election the first time since 1966, but not the last….

  2. paul says:

    i’ve always wondered what frank field is doing in the labour party

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