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Once again the calls for welfare-to-work programmes fail to deal with the fundamental reason why millions are on benefit. The service-sector economy cannot produce enough jobs for a population of our size and only a return to a large manufacturing and agricultural base can do this. Currently there are only ever approx 600,000 vacancies at the good end of the economic cycle and 1.6 million on JSA plus large numbers on Incapacity may well end up on JSA. It is physically not possible to return all these people to work and any politician who claims we can is being less than honest with the public. It is for this reason that all the initiatives like New Deal and Workfare will fail.

Government can however do something about the 600,000 vacancies that do exist. JSA should be turned into a training allowance and those who have been trapped in unemployment the longest should be placed with an employer, who in return should offer that person job-training while they continue to draw benefit, this could last as long as a month for retail work or several months for skilled work. However once the period of training has elapsed the employer should then be expected to offer a job to the person on the training scheme. Those employers who sign up to this should be rewarded with targeted tax relief. So we would have a situation where someone trapped on benefits is offered a castiron guarantee of training and work. This will cost nothing as the training will take place while drawing benefit and will result in the said person leaving the benefit regime once their training is completed.

Not everyone can be put back to work, but for the vacancies that do exist government needs to adopt job-matching and training-to-work schemes like the one I propose above.

I saw a TV trailer for the BBCs programme about the Polish last night. There was explicit footage of a British person saying they were better off on benefits.

So your arguments Tony are falling on these deaf ears.

Mr Right, of course an interview with one freeloader does not represent the attitude of millions trapped on benefit. However there should be a compulsory element to welfare. Not in terms of workfare, which I oppose, but compulsion to accept job-matching and training if its going to lead directly to a job.

Many on benefit are probably suspicious about training schemes like New Deal because there is no guaranteed job at the end of the training. That is New Deal's biggest failing. For a person to undertake work-experience for 13-26 weeks and then for that person to end up dumped back on the dole again must be a highly demoralizing experience. What the long-term unemployed need is an end-goal to inspire them, training with a guaranteed job at the end of it. A real incentive and a chance to prove themselves.

On the matter of foreign workers, legislation should be passed to state that the minimum wage only applies to UK citizens and that all foreign workers under a set level of income should be paid in the national currency of the native land, which would then have to be converted into sterling. This would kill overnight blue collar migrant labour into the UK and free up jobs for our own people.

1.6 million on JSA plus large numbers on Incapacity may well end up on JSA
There are fewer than 800,000 on the claimant count, you are taking the ILO figures which are not for JSA, they are for everyone classified under an international classification which enables comparison internationally as being actively seeking work - this includes many on Incapacity Benefit, Income Support, other benefits and no benefits at all as well as those on JSA or signing on.

The ILO figure represents a larger subset of those classified as economically inactive than the JSA claimant count which has long since ceased to be given as the unemployment figures because it only relates to an element of the unemployed.

There can never be a guaranteed job for anyone who is unemployed, whether through a training scheme or not, because it is up to all those to do what is required by employers to justify them being given the job - ultimately the employers decide who works for them by whatever selection processes they deem fit whether their selection processes actually select the best candidates or not - this is the way things work, if an employer doesn't view someone as being an asset to their organisation or have some kind of other feeling of a link with them or that people who work there have a link with them then that person WILL NOT BE EMPLOYED WITH THEM, it doesn't matter what state organisations and their contractors say about guaranteed jobs - all this guaranteed job stuff is pure hokum.

On the matter of foreign workers, legislation should be passed to state that the minimum wage only applies to UK citizens and that all foreign workers under a set level of income should be paid in the national currency of the native land, which would then have to be converted into sterling.
ie more bureacracy in administering such a scheme, annoying many employers who will spend their time finding ways around it such as paying cash in hand. It could also lead some employers to use the rules to claim that they believed that many minority ethnic people in the UK were from abroad and so were not paying the minimum wage, it would encourage alternative foreign currencies to develop in the UK possibly undermining Sterling and a lot of trading would simply switch to other currencies.

The Treasury spends a lot of time trying to ensure that trade in the UK in shops goes on in pounds or authorised indigenous money schemes, this would all go against that. Under your suggested scheme employers would have to keep registers of what currencies individual workers were to be paid in, supposing that employers decided to start paying indigenous British workers in common foreign currencies that other workers in their company got paid in - it would cause chaos.

Far simpler to scrap the Minimum Wage or not increase it and deregulate the labour market, rather than adding on all kinds of bits of bureacracy and state involvement in private sector economic activity. The states main indeed interest in private sector activity should be to counter criminal activity and terrorism, not trying to micro manage the British economy.

Estimates for total unemployment appear to be about 2.25 million, over the past 30 years total unemployment has probably varied between about 2 million and 4.5 million.

The ILO count is usually about 4/5 of the probable actual level.

The claimant count depends a lot on how high rates of benefit are, how much is removed for income, other eligibility criteria and social attitudes to unemployment - this all affects what proportion of unemployed people are able to claim and what numbers choose to.

The claimant count as a proportion of total unemployment has fallen over most of the past 30 years. The reason that the ILO figure is used is that apart from being a single way of calculating the figure which is useful for international comparison, it is also not affected by political considerations of individual countries - for example the vast numbers of changes in the way that the claimant count has been changed by successive governments and in the much more generous rules for Sickness and Disability Benefits which especially in the 1980s saw many signed off, and things such as the increase in the proportion of the population counted as being Students since 1997.

There are clearly inconsistencies coming from the government in relation to the number of people unemployed, the number on benefit, and the number on the wrong benefit. The whole government approach is riddled with contradictions with the Labour website touting a banner headline claiming we have full employment, then followed by small print stating that the government aims to achieve an 80% employment rate. At the same time this full employment government has a DWP minister who promises to lift 2.3 million off benefits and hires David Freud to come up with 'solutions' to millions being on benefit. No wonder the Labour government hasn't been able to contruct a feasible welfare-to-work programme. The New Deal was an expensive failure because it did not guarantee work at the end of training or six month stints of work. So a new approach is needed. Workfare won't work because workfare isn't work and does not lead to work. What is needed is a programme of placement training which results in a definite job offer at the end of training.

The question of migrant labour has become a problem, that's why I believe David Cameron should use his strong links with the CDU to push for legislation at EU level to index-link the free movement of labour to unemployment figures. In that way nations with high levels of unemployment could set restrictions on the amount of migrant labour entering the country. This would benefit all EU members and I can't see how any member nation could object.

Yet Another Anon, this debate about what constitutes unemployment and benefit is interesting. For example should we class being in receipt of tax credits as being on benefit. One of the bizarre paradoxes of Labour government is that it is possible for someone in work to claim more money from the state than someone out of work through the tax credit system.

This seems to me to be a very sensible list of priorities from George Osborne.I rather doubt Darling will follow his advice on any of them but even he should be intelligent enough to accept point 4.

"One of the bizarre paradoxes of Labour government is that it is possible for someone in work to claim more money from the state than someone out of work through the tax credit system."

It's not that bizarre-it's partially designed like that so as to be an incentive to find work as a way around the benefit trap, and to act as an incentive to find work, rather than sit around all day.

David, if that be the case its a rather bizarre way to incentivize and costs more to the treasury than if the same people were on JSA. However perhaps we underestimate the Labour government and perhaps the whole tax credit regime is a way of keeping working people beholden to the state and thus more likely to vote for a government that is paying them benefit while they work?

"costs more to the treasury than if the same people were on JSA."

Well, yes, since you are paying them more in benefits, we've established that. The aim is to make it better off to be in work and avoid the benefit trap. 'Rewarding hard working families' that sort of thing.

"perhaps the whole tax credit regime is a way of keeping working people beholden to the state and thus more likely to vote for a government that is paying them benefit while they work?"

Possibly. You could probably leave the 'while they work off' that.

perhaps the whole tax credit regime is a way of keeping working people beholden to the state and thus more likely to vote for a government that is paying them benefit while they work?
I rather think that the Tax Credits system was a genuine attempt to encourage people into work and to help support people in work.

In fact if Labour had sought a scheme simply to keep themselves in power they could have come up with something which would have benefited far more people and been far simpler to introduce and operate, but would have been spread far more thinly.

Integrating benefits for the unemployed and in work so that there weren't any kind of perverse subsidies for people working more than a certain number of hours and where people were encouraged to work part time - this might actually mean scrapping paying National Insurance Contributions for people on benefit and having much lower benefit levels at the bottom end.

Perhaps a higher threshold before reductions kicked in and more use of universality, maybe limiting the length of time in any one year that non-contributory benefits can be claimed and indeed raising contributory benefits to add in differentials with non-contributory schemes.

Looking at adding authorised voluntary work and things such as donating blood and other community works as eligibility criteria available. Replacing benefits for variable rate costs such as medical costs and housing costs with low interest loans repayable on the same basis as Student Loans now.

Perhaps as a first step restrict Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit for people working less than 16 hours per week so that they are only available to those on JSA and Income Support not subject to a sanction. So if people don't do their part towards trying to find work or at least trying to meet community responsibilities than rather than just a spell with no money, they would additionally have to face up to the prospect of being thrown out on the streets - surely this might help add disipline and a sense of responsibility to people.

I also favour that the police should be required to keep lists of those who are economically inactive and have powers to call them in to interview, to require them to explain their movements and what monies and property they have. Failure to comply meaning stopping of all benefit and an order to arrest being issued, this would add pressures on unemployed people to return to work that would not distort the labour market as they would be unrelated to any attempts to find work. It would also help flush out criminal and terrorist elements that were living their lives outside the system and feeding off society.

This is all shadow boxing ! The party is behaving like a think-tank, not an alternative government. Does Osborne believe in low-taxation, or doesn't he? Why isn't he going for Labour Day-in -Day -out on precisely those areas of gross waste which hje would cut.

But it's like every the pafrty seems to be doing - No coherent overall strategy just bits and pieces of policy day by day. For Mr Cameron, too. offers us no hope, he fails to sketch out a dream and provides no connecting theme for the many disconnected but worthy policies he outlines every day. Disappointment will turn to rejection.

Unfortunately the British economy is in a very weak position.

George Osborne's responses are perfectly ok but are not proportionate to the scale of the challenge.

By the challenge I mean the scale of borrowing, the bloated and wasteful nature of the public sector and the emerging competition we face from China and India.

Yet Another Anon, I cannot support any proposal that could lead to homelessness. I agree that JSA claimants should be expected to look for work and accept waged work when it becomes available. However punitive measures to deny accommodation would be a denial of basic human rights and would create great problems for families with children. It has to be remembered that JSA, Incapacity and Income Support are means of subsistence and without them people will become vagrants and would most likey have to restort to crime without recourse to benefits.

I believe the great mistake politicians are making is that they are only looking at the tail-end of this problem and only coming up with punitive measures, basically treating unemployment as a crime or an act of dishonesty.

Its clear that we need a million plus jobs to break benefit dependency, and short of a government run public-works programme, it will take a generation to create those jobs and even then those jobs can only be created if certain economic conditions prevail. So politicians need to change tack and admit that they cannot put everyone back to work. Set realistic targets and try to fill as many vacancies as are available and introduce training to give a fighting chance to those who are unskilled.

Dead-end approaches like Workfare and the New Deal will not solve the problem which has its root in the fact that we need a large industrial and agricultural base to employ people in sufficient numbers, the service-sector cannot supply enough jobs for a population of our size.

I can't help wondering what "restore stability to the public finances" is supposed to mean if not a return to balancing the budget. If so, either taxes will have to go up or spending will have to drop. I wonder if Mr Osborne could be persuaded to provide details of his preferred option.

In 1978 the last year of a Labour government, state spending as a proportion of GDP stood at 37.37% of GDP. By 1984 it went up to 44.08%.

What superb control of spending.

YetAnotherAnon is correct in saying “ultimately the employers decide who works for them”. Unfortunately for the vast majority of those unemployed or sick that means that they will never get jobs. Why would an employer ever consider someone who hasn’t worked, has a history of sickness, or just plain a bit older when they have access to a near infinite supply of cheap, young migrant workers?

The government need to get tough with the employers; not the unemployed.

For a start, cut off the supply of migrant and work permit based labour. The domestic pool will suddenly appear more attractive if there are no alternatives. Secondly, every work permit that has been issued should be fully audited. I believe that almost all of those issued in my former field of IT to be fraudulent in that there has always been sufficient skilled people to meet demand. Severe penalties should be applied to offending companies.

The existing work permits should be published and job seekers be allowed to apply for them. The employer would have to prove that the jobseeker could not do the job or give it to them.

What would be very useful for jobseekers is to have their job applications fully audited. Often applications get no response or at best the response would be ‘non-suitable’. A job seeker should be able to force an employer to give a detailed and honest justification for rejecting them.

The government need to get tough with the employers; not the unemployed.
Employers are attempting to employ the people they believe who meet their remit, which in the case of private companies is who will help work towards bringing profit to the company and in not for profit and public sector public service organisations is to work towards fulfilling the purposes that the organisation exists for - they are not employment schemes.

What would be very useful for jobseekers is to have their job applications fully audited. Often applications get no response or at best the response would be ‘non-suitable’. A job seeker should be able to force an employer to give a detailed and honest justification for rejecting them.
Many don't reply in order that they can save money, if there is a lot of demand for a position that could mean a lot of stamps and a lot of letters, which could be quite a burden for a small company - I doubt that any of the political parties would come up with such a Trotskyite policy.

Suggestions of limiting employers access to labour on other than National Security and Criminal Justice grounds amount to a national equivalent of a closed shop.

'In 1978 the last year of a Labour government, state spending as a proportion of GDP stood at 37.37% of GDP. By 1984 it went up to 44.08%.'

No idea where these false statistics come from. According to the Office of National Statistics the actual figures were 43.2% in 1978, rising to 46.4% in 1981/82, and then falling sharply to 38.6% at the end of Mrs Thatcher's period in office in 1990. It was 39.3% when Labour came to power in 1997, and has since risen to 44.1%. The Conservatives in 1979-97 controlled public spending successfully, and since 1997 Labour has failed to even try.

My apologies, I was confusing state expenditure with taxation. It should be as follows:

"the tax burden in 1978 - the last full year of Labour Government office - stood at 37.37 per cent of UK GDP.
But the tax burden then actually rose in subsequent years (see Table III), reaching a
peak of 44.08 per cent of GDP in 1984."

http://dspace.lib.cranfield.ac.uk:8080/bitstream/1826/636/2/SWP2191.pdf

"Suggestions of limiting employers access to labour on other than National Security and Criminal Justice grounds amount to a national equivalent of a closed shop." - YAA.

Every other country on the planet protects its own nationals.

It is not possible to oblige someone to work without giving them the right to work. Forcing someone to be an employee may well mean forcing someone else to be an employer. If the private sector will not employ someone it will become the responsibility of the state to do so.

Saying that training will improve the employability of someone is nonsense; there are many highly skilled people without work. They are not considered employable because of things that could be as simple as being over 40, have a family, some other ‘baggage’ in their lives, or even being unemployed in itself.

The only way to ‘encourage’ employers to take the unemployed is to place constraints on the alternatives. The compulsion should be on the employers.


It is not possible to oblige someone to work without giving them the right to work.
There is no obligation to work, there is an obligation to look for work in order to receive certain benefits, people have always had the right to sign off though, as for the right to work - people have the right to work if they have a job, it is up to them to get a job though and they do this by supplying the employer with some service that they want. It is not the responsibility of employers to be providers of jobs, he who pays the piper calls the tune - Tesco for example or Landrover are there to achieve a return for their shareholders by providing products to their customers, they are not charities and have no social responsibility to create jobs.

A Building Society is responsible to it's account holders, it has no social responsibility to provide jobs. The railway industry is there to operate trains, it also is not a job creation scheme, nor are the police. Water companies supply water, not jobs.

Job creation is a by product of economic activity that happens to have beneficial effects on society, if employers can carry out their activities more cheaply without people, using machines - it is their perfect right to do so.

And if less suited people are put into jobs, and/or there is overmanning - customers will suffer, the businesses will lose money and their owners will suffer, and the economy will suffer.

All very well and I agree. However, it the suitability criteria used by employers is what I am objecting to. If the employer insists that the employee be under 40, no family commitments, perfect health, credit and employment histories then a huge proportion of the population that are capable of doing the job are excluded. The employers hide this discrimination behind the claims of a skills shortage. Having unrealistic expectations of what is a “suitable” employee that cannot be recruited from the UK means that they have to import them. This has the added bonus that they can do so at costs far below domestic costs which only encourages them to discriminate more widely.

This current government and as far as I can see any alternative will never combat this discrimination, but will more than likely allow more of it; probably in return for donations to party funds.

It is economic madness too. The burden of having an increasing proportion of the working age population excluded from work like this is unsustainable. The retirement age has already been raised to keep people on unemployment longer in the hope they die before claiming their pension. The imported workers are yielding less tax revenue as they are generally lower paid. In addition much of their income is exported.

Employers need to be forced to accept that they cannot have a work force that is solely comprised of fresh faced, healthy, young graduates, with no family commitments or suffered from any of the knocks that life deals one. It is a fact of life that people get old, have babies, make the odd bad choice, or have bad things happen to them. This distribution of life needs to be fully reflected in the workforce.

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