« Senior Tories "annoyed" at Sun's coverage of Mori poll | Main | Cameron calls on Hain to answer the public's questions or he should go »


One of the key messages we should be associating with welfare reform is that it is about mending our broken society. Labour will try to say its about cuts, making life harder for the poor, return to Victorian workhouses.

We need welfare reform not because its too expensive in cash terms but because of the social ills associated with dependency and lack of employment. Initially it will be expensive, even if some financial risk is passed to the contractors, if we do the job properly. It means investment in training, in placement centres, in child care, in finding meaningful community work. The benefits though of moving whole populations into work, giving back hope and aspiration are worth it.

I'm glad that people are supporting the party but the fact that people back the welfare reforms and think its 'easy' to get a job just goes to show that the public does not fully comprehend the nature of unemployment. Making people do workfare will not produce jobs and it certainly won't get people off benefit. I guarantee that after a full term of Conservative government there will still be at least a million people on JSA.

We need a million jobs to eradicate unemployment in this country. Can anyone reading this tell me how we are going to produce a million jobs without a sizable manufacturing base? That aside its good to see that people are more inclined to support the idea of David Cameron as PM over Gordon Brown. Although I'm unhappy about the dead-end welfare reforms there are still lots of things to feel positive about, particularly George Osborne's recent speech in support of the supply-side which is certainly a step in the right direction.

Ted, there is a simpler and much more cost-effective way of getting some people into work. The long-term unemployed should be placed with an employer, who then should offer that person 'training' in that particular job. While training the person receives benefit as usual. However once the training is completed and if the person has met the conditions of the training the employer should then be under obligation to offer that person a job. Which of course they would be expected to accept. Those who sabotage their training or take unexplained days off should face serious disciplinary measures. This won't create work in sufficient numbers but it would be a start and would actually be getting some people into work. Something a punitive workfare regime will not do.

But I don't think that we actually need to 'create' jobs, just to put people into work - surely that defeats the object, doesn't it?

There are loads and loads of jobs available in Britain today. What we need to do is have looser ties with Europe - economic relationship only, stop free movement of labour - and then extend vocational education and teach our own kids how to be plumbers and the like.

I live on a council estate and there are three sons and a single mother. The youngest son rarely goes to school. The other two are 'Not in Education, Employment or Training' and there are far too many of these around. They are, as far as I can see, a product of Labour. They think it is alright to just sit there and survive on benefits. Glad Cameron is tackling this, glad the public support him.

Well done, David.

NW Supporter, I agree with the proposals for tests, expecting people to take jobs and attend job-search centres. However 600,000 vacancies cannot be filled by 1.6 million JSA claimants. Why do you think we've had mass unemployment since the seventies? Its because our economy has shifted from a manufacturing economy to a service-sector economy. These lessons need to be learnt or the massive welfare burden of unemployment will never go away.

I agree with your point about vocational training. Blue collar skills training should begin in the last year of regular school. The recent proposals on welfare reform made no proper provision for training. The unemployed should be allowed to train while receiving benefit. Better to pay them for eight months of a college course and have them qualified and in work than to pay for them indefinitely on benefit.

This whole benefit debate should be built on jobs and training rather than just giving the unemployed something to do while on benefits.

Don't forget the other poll in the Sunday Times which puts the Tories at 43% - 10 ahead of Labour


I told you it would be popular Tony. As regards 'creating' a million jobs,I don't think a government can create jobs in the private sector. It can only create an economic climate where businesses can thrive. It's business itself which creates jobs.

Malcolm Dunn, I'm certainly not complaining about the support for the party. The more the better! I agree that business has to create work, government must create conditions favourable to manufacturing though, otherwise unemployment isn't going to go away. That means people will be having this welfare debate in ten and twenty years from now. Malcolm, you must admit though that David Cameron has not explained at all how he intends to get those on the workfare off benefits and into paid work.

Normal service resumes after the Christmas season! Have to admit that I was surprised that anyone bothered to commission polls over the holiday period and I treated them with caution.

Even left/liberals like me have come to see that we have a minority of claimants for whom year after year of inactivity is socially corrosive. Once you get estates where worklessness becomes intergenerational then basically everything else is screwed.

I doubt very much nyou'll get all of these people in work. there aren't the jobs where the Incapacity benefit clusters are. What i think you can do is insist on a certain level of voluntary work/traing in return for benefits after a certain date. It would put a floor under the level of time you can be inactive.

I just wouldn't assume it will save you any money though. It'll be a bit like community care for the mentally ill. Its actually more expensive than hospital if done properly.

An interesting aspect of both polls this morning is the poor showing by the Liberal Party. They must be pretty disspointed that they have a new leader but still cannot even get back to 20% in the polls. Maybe they should have made Vince Cable their leader and not Clegg.

I didn't experience surprise that the telegraph poll found support for our policies. Did they, however, make clear that they are Tory policies? I would find the results more encouraging if so.

Surely, if we got, say, 300,000 of those 1.6 million filling some of those 600,000 vacancies, this would be a worthwhile reform.

Sean Fear, I agree with you. People should face job-matching and should be expected to take work that is available. The big problem however, and the question David Cameron and Chris Grayling have not answered is what can they do beyond that. Even if all the vacancies are filled that still leaves a round figure of a million people trapped on benefit. A figure that looks sure to increase with an economic downturn and as people move from Incapacity Benefit to JSA. David Cameron has proposed workfare, but that isn't going to take them off benefit. So the same old problems are still going to be there.

How many those bloggers who have called for more 'vocational' training support the selective school system which is designed to provide it ? The so-called 'grammar school system' should also provide an excellent technical and vocational education for those who are not suited to more academic studies: certainly it does here in Buckinghamshire. Far too many secondary schools children are stuck in a watered down academic curriculum when they would be much better off doing someting practical like seeing how a car engine works, graphic design, or IT technical skills. To avoid any sense of failure or 'stigma' in the selective system I would have 2 equally demanding tests at 11 plus, one academic and one practical/technical and select the appropriate secondary education accordingly.
And as for benefits, a thriving free enterprise economy with low taxes and minimal government interference will be able to provide the highly-paid employment and financial incentives to encourage people off benefits and into work. If it doesn't pay to work you can't be surprised if people choose not to do so.

The are many sides to this question. But one that is rarely addressed is the flexibility of the state in aiding the recipient of benefits. The inflexibility of the state means that people often take rational decisions to turn down temp work for 2-3 days because to take the work throws the benefit timetable into disarray - it is not JSA people are worried about , - it is housing benefit. I don't fully know how to tackle this, but if claimants felt that doing and declaring work for short periods would not impact their security (housing) you might get a lot more flexibility from the welfare-stuck. It would mean being able to strike an agreed living standard per claimant (pre-pension MIG) and dealing with it on a time period of no longer than a fortnight. The advantage for claimants is an up-to-date CV which enhances the ability to take advantage of full-time opportunities. If you look at Tax Credit, one of its biggest failings is that it deals on a yearly basis (thus rows over who was over and underpaid) while in the real world people live weekly. A rebate in 12 weeks doesn't feed you today, and a sudden pay-all-now demand today creates unnecessary stress and havoc for weeks if not months.
The very soft bit of this, is that I think if people think a system is trying to work WITH them rather than straitjacket them into a tickbox that doesn't necessarily work FOR them, they will co-operate rather than try and work around the system.


Between 1997 and 2003 2.1 million jobs were created, with 1 million filled by UK nationals and about 1.1 million by foreign nationals, according to the govts recently revised, revised and revised again figures.

The problem is that benefits are easy enough, and jobs low paid enough, that coming off bebnefits is not worth it for many.

If we make benefits less attractive through these reforms, and reduce immigration (and its downward push on wages) getting a job will become more worthwhile.

Jon Gale, Labour's claims of more people in work does not nullify the fact that there are still 1.6 million on JSA and that youth unemployment has risen by 20%. Its not a case of jobs being created so far but a case of jobs that still need to be created. By my estimation we need a million jobs to eradicate mass unemployment. Only a re-vitalized manufacturing industry can do this. The service-sector unfortunately lacks the infrastructure necessary to create enough jobs for a population of our size.

No jobs! how come 1.5 million immigrants seem to have found one?


A reitalized manufacturing would be wonderful but it was destroyed through a combination of disruptive and blinkered trade unions who were allowed to get away with industrial sabotage by a combination of weak management and weak government. Maggie was elected for too late to rescue munufacturing industry.

There are so many on JSA (and other benefits) because they lack the either or both the skills and aptitude for employment and for reasons I cannot fathom find life on benefit palatable. One task of government is to put these people back to work and I think DC's formula might just work. We only have so many migrants here because the local unemployed have no appetite for work.

I'm amazed that the LibDems are so badly - they are not experiencing a Clegg Bounce at all - quite the opposite in fact.
I suspect the fall of the Tory lead in December was artificial and caused in part by the fact it was the holiday season.

I agree with you Tony we will probably still be having debates about unemployment in 10 or 20 years,politicians cannot magic jobs they can just create a favourable climate. However if in a few years time the number of companies that need to source workers from abroad has dropped very significantly and the number of British unemployed has also dropped significantly I'd be very happy.

Jonnyboy, any revitalized manufacturing base would have to be privately owned and union free. As you say the political unions did great damage to the hard industries. I actually agree with most of the proposals put forward by David Cameron and Chris Grayling but I oppose the following.

1) Making the mothers of primary school children look for work. At that age children cannot be left at home unattended for eleven weeks of the years during school holidays.

2) Any community work undertaken by the unemployed should be 'waged' and not a punitive work-for-dole regime. A fair days pay for a fair days work.

3) There was no proper strategy for training in the proposals. I'd prefer to see the unemployed allowed to train with an employer while receiving benefit and then offered a job by that employer once the training is completed.

A million people living on forty quid a week dole money and millions of others trapped into debt are not wealthy. - as was said incorrectly on a thread on Europe by Tony Makara.
does not nullify the fact that there are still 1.6 million on JSA and that youth unemployment has risen by 20%. Its not a case of jobs being created so far but a case of jobs that still need to be created. - Posted by: Tony Makara | January 13, 2008 at 12:45

The last claimant count for JSA was 785, 749 in November - rates are
Contributions Based JSA
Income Based JSA rates
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Allowances

Most people are getting the full rate of JSA which for a single person aged 25+ is £59.15 and that isn't counting any cover for prescription costs, rent, Council Tax Benefit, eye & dental tests.

And then a lot of the people on New Deal are getting Training Alowances on top of JSA.

So far as creating jobs goes, jobs to do what? The only justification for creating jobs is to get things done in the job that person is doing, not as a thing in itself, it doesn't matter whether it is a public or private employer, the same principle applies.

An employer is not going to take someone on if there are conditions stopping them from getting rid of them if they decide for whatever reason that either they don't fit into the organisation, or that they simply have no use to the company. That's why New Deal, Yts, ET, Yettie, Manpower Services Commission Schemes etc.... all fail, because they usually end up displacing jobs that would be in existence anyway - and in a way that works out as a free subsidy to the employer, the biggest loser is the taxpayer.

Some interesting material in this discussion...

I can certainly vouch for the fact that there are many who know the system well enough to have been able to live off benefits for years, and in some cases I could quote, decades.

How to remedy this?

First, I suggest that Cameron and Grayling take on Tony Makara as an adviser, as he has some good ideas to make this broad policy more workable in reality.

Second, this situation of immigrants taking our skilled jobs needs to be addressed beyond the essential first step of vocational training for our own people -- it must be shown that it is worth their while learning such skills and that they won't then be dumped on the scrapheap because (for whatever reason) such jobs then go (or are perceived to go) almost by default to immigrants rather than to our folk.

Third, we need to accept that there will never be a complete solution to the question of "professional benefits dependants". I know of a few who will never be able to be compelled to work for a living -- they never have, and never will. They know all the dodges.

Whatever anyone in Government does will always be a partial solution; so we should be prepared to take some action straight away, rather than get bogged down in other questions dealing with the next phase: they should be tackled in due course, without holding-up the first stages of reform. We (probably) have time to do all of that, although there is no guarantee of "no General Election in 2008" -- Gordon B merely stated is was "highly unlikely", not ruled out completely.

On another matter raised here: I too am disappointed that Clegg has not made more of an impact for his party, as -- for all their faults -- I believe they have greater potential than labour, and are less dishonest overall. I suppose the timing of the leadership contest, and the closeness of the result, haven't really got the public-at-large very motivated. This could change over time.

I think the LibDems are likely to be squeezed at the next election. It is becoming increasingly apparent that Sir Ming Campbell was not their problem.

Their problem is that a change of government is a real possibility. Therefore, to vote out Labour, swing voters are hardly going to flock out in their millions for the LibDems - we are the only possible place to turn to. That was what happened in 1997 and 1979.

There are far too many different benefits, far too many rates within benefits - there needs to be a lot of rationalisation of the welfare system, a move towards greater universalism (as part of a move towards this, perhaps reductions of benefit for Savings/Capital could be based on actual money raised from this rather than notional earnings which anyway assume absurd amounts of return given what is available), but with most of those currently on welfare getting less than they are now with also use of low interest loans to replace benefits and free services where there is a variable rate ie Housing, education, medical costs and Council Tax Relief. Definitions of severe disability need to be significantly narrowed with mental illness excluded from being defined as a disability - perhaps replace having higher rates for those over 60 with having an addition based on number of years since the age of 55 up to a limit of 50 years payable - the severely disabled could get the rate for a 105 year old regardless of their age.

The state should stop paying peoples National Insurance contributions for them, in addition there needs to be abolition of the Minimum Wage and substantial labour market deregulation.

National Insurance money needs solely to be spent on benefits and services for National Insurance contributors. Rates for contributory benefits either need to be higher than those of non-contributory benefits, or be paid on top of assistance benefits, this would favour those who had a good record of contributions. Perhaps there should be a return to paying higher benefits to those with higher levels of contributions.

As a start perhaps contributory benefits for the severely disabled could be reduced to only being available for up to 26 weeks.

Industrial Injuries Benefits, Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Paternity Pay should all be abolished.

That was what happened in 1997 and 1979.
In 1979 the Liberals suffered from having been used by Labour to help them stay in power, the SNP similarily suffered - both got Jim Callaghan to put forward bills on changing the voting system and on Scottish devolution - the first was sabotaged by Labour MPs including frontbench MPs and the latter by an amendment by a Labour backbencher. Both were discredited in the eyes of their own supporters, the actual Labour vote held up very strongly in 1979 and hardly changed between February 1974 and 1979 - turnout changed though. In 1929 Ramsay MacDonald made a similar promise to David Lloyd George that Jim Callaghan made in 1977 to David Steel.

In 1997 Labour had already been on the up since 1983, the Liberal Democrats had been struggling since 1987 to hold on to Alliance support much of which returned to Labour - there was a lot of tactical voting especially by Liberal Democrats for Labour, the Liberal Democrats too though benefited from Tactical Voting, sitting Liberal Democrats will probably benefit a lot by tactical voting to keep either Labour or Conservative out, although their vote will collapse in areas where they don't already have an MP.


I was not suggesting anything like Wilson/Benn "white hot technology" con. I'd love to see seriour manufacturing back in the UK. If germany can succeed as a heavtweight manufacturer so can we.

I'm also with you on not forcing mums of primary aged children back into work; there is more than enough evidence of the benefits accruing to young children from mum's presence etc.

Training, as you say it has to be done properly. I've given thoughts about the new deal training here before. A lot of "providers" and their courses do nothing to improve the work chances available to their "clients." The "clients" simply have to attend in order to retain benefit. Yes yes yes lets give real training that equips people to do real jobs.

New deal I've seen could not even think that smiling is a good way for a receptionist to greet.

While it is certainly true that persons heading large families can reap in a considerable amount on benefit, I don't think anyone can argue that a single person living on the going rate for JSA is anything other than poor. For those claiming with large families I have advocated introducing part of the payment in food/energy vouchers so that the money is more targeted towards the basic needs of the children involved rather becoming totally disposable income for the parents. Most parents will spend adequate amounts on food and energy anyway, so would not be affected by receiving part payment in vouchers. Such a system would help better target benefit assistance and would act as a dis-incentive to those who do play the system to rake in money for themselves.

On the matter of employment, government now needs to be in the business of going 'one step beyond' addressing the punitive side of welfare reform and actually look at how it can generate the conditions to end the problem of the welfare burden long-term. I believe only manufacturing can do this, because of the numbers that manufacturing can employ compared to the service sector. The future Conservative government should create substantial targeted tax exemptions to entrepreneurs who are prepared to invest in manufacturing. The great thing about manufacturing is that we can supply our home market and corner export markets around the world. The potential for employment is enormous, and by supporting the supply-side through sizable tax breaks it would provide a profitable environment for entrepreneurs who normally are deterred from investing in manufacturing because they are unable to compete with the coolie economies of the east.

"I don't think anyone can argue that a single person living on the going rate for JSA is anything other than poor"

LOL very true*, I can vouch for that from past experience.

This is what I mean by 'poor people blaming other poor people for their problems'- perfectly illustrated by the depressing 82% support for this move

*(unless of course that individual is working cash in hand, but that is quite another issue)

PLEASE don't underestimate the strength of the Lib Dems on the ground.

There is still an issue of trust with the Cnservatives, such as that which plagued Labour in 87 and 92...people like what we're saying, but an inbuilt mistrust of us in many areas and sections of society has to be reversed if we are going to turn this into a General Election win.

Let me be clear, this CANN0T be done just by Cameron and CCHQ, we as activists need to get out and about in the community, be visible and active and involved in community issues...only then will we convince those who have turned away from us that we are not 'evil Tory biggots' and the Lib Dems really will shrink back to the fringe party status they always were.

I like what is happening.
I initially feared that we would loose much of our support because of the welfare reforms, that we again would be branded as "the nasty party", which probably would have happened under IDS, Hauge or Howard.

Buckinghamshire Tory, while I agree that we need welfare reform I feel that the language coming from senior Conservatives needs to be more diplomatic. Talking about people 'Watching TV all day' and 'Scrounging' may entertain some people but most people with a sense of decency find that type of stereotype offensive. Much better if more positive language were used and politicians instead spoke about 'Ending the misery of unemployment' and 'Giving people a second chance in life' etc. Any sensible person realises that of the five million people on benefits only a percentage are freeloaders. The rest, for various reasons, are trapped on benefits and are looking for a way out. Many simply give up, cut their cloth accordingly, and accept poverty as inevitable. So what these people need is a way out of their predicament.

I don't think anyone can argue that a single person living on the going rate for JSA is anything other than poor
All the fiddling about having rates for Single People more than half those for couples is just messing about - it just encourages people to sneak about and discourages people from living as couples. After all from the point of view of society - for environmental reasons such as energy efficiency, for social reasons such as independent support networks and for space reasons in terms of there being space for everyone to live in, it is advantageous for people to live in groups - logically on that basis each person should be assessed seperately for most benefits - any benefits for which their earnings or money from savings is assessed should be done seperately as much as is possible - for Housing and Council Tax Relief costs this would be impractical, but for benefits such as JSA\Income Support\Incapacity Benefit it would be perfectly practical - benefits such as Child Benefit could still be payable to one adult or another looking after them. Each present parent could receive a Family Premium - so where one parent\guardian was presen they would only receive half the amount that a couple would. For things such as medical, housing and education costs I think low interest loans repayable in the same was Student Loans currently.

This would mean that most Single People would get less money than before, the elderly and severely disabled would perhaps get their rates protected in the main during any transition.

The fact is that there is no ideal welfare solution, whatever is done will have problems - the thing to do is try and minimise any adverse effects on the economy and society from anything that is done, people who are trying their best will inevitably end up suffering, but that is just life - perfection is the prerogative of the divine.

The state cannot end all unemployment, cannot end all poverty, cannot make sure that bad things never happen again, cannot make sure everyone is healthy, cannot completely end iliteracy or innumeracy - it can always just aim for a least worst option within what is affordable.

North America and Europe need a reality check, this means abandoning concepts of giving people medical treatment at the point of need for nothing - it means accepting that while an element of state subsidy might be desirable that the ambitions of the second half of the 20th century and even more so it seems the 21st century were simply not possible. If the state was spending double or triple what it is doing on welfare, health and education there would still be many demanding more. Firm limits have to be set.

Compare the Telegraph headline:
"Tory support rises after tough welfare stance"
With the reality:
Conservatives 40% (down 3%)
Labour 33 (down 3%)
Lib Dems 18% (up 4%)
'Others' 10% (up 2%)
Are the Telegraph following in the best traditions of Pravda?

I've talked to as many people as possible about the welfare reforms and the two issues that come up time and time again are the question of the mothers of primary age children working and the idea that people will be forced to do community work for their subsistence money. People do not object to the rest of the proposals.

David Cameron could have scored a big point by offering to pay the unemployed to undertake community work. Something along the lines of the 1980s community programme. The issue of making single mothers work is seen as moralistic judgment on lifestyle. In that only the children in a family with a working father can have the luxury and the security of having their mother at home. Its a policy that will hurt kids and for that reason it is anti-family. Again I ask Chris Grayling to think very carefully about this issue. Children of primary school age are still very vunerable. They should not be home alone.

"Why do you think we've had mass unemployment since the seventies? Its because our economy has shifted from a manufacturing economy to a service-sector economy."

No No No No No....... it isn't. Its perfectly possible to have low unemployment with a service based economy.

Unemployment is the product of decades of socialism. Poor schools, benefits culture, over regulation, over taxation.

Those who are unemployed are largely marginal workers. They are (on average) lower skilled and less educated than the average worker, and are therefore less productive. Making labour expensive (taxes, minimum wages & regulations) reduces the value of these unfortunate people.

If (and I am not recommending this) all labour laws were scrapped, all health & safety regulations burned and taxes slashed, there would be no unemployment. The trick is to work out which government imposed costs are worth it and which ones bring little benefit.

With the laws of the work place currently guided by the dictum, "if it moves tax it, if it still moves regulate it" the system has massive potential to lose weight, without significant loss to those in work.

That is the way forward, identify rules that have disproportionate costs and scrap them. "Great Leaps Forward" or "Five Year Plans" to build manufacturing capacity are simply fools errands and will solve nothing.

Serf, there is nothing socialist about having an economy strategy to encourage job creation. Your claim that we would have no unemployment is we were to scrap all labour laws is pure conjecture. We do need some labour laws but we need to get rid of the unnecessary legislation that holds business back. The service-sector has an important niche in our economy but the backbone of the economy has to be manufacturing. Creating wares for our home market, creating exports, creating jobs.

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker