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I agree that tackling benefits when there is high unemployment is not the best time politically, however since it hasn't been tackled in the good times then I'm afraid it can't be avoided.

We should focus on what's affordable and fair. Benefits as a lifestyle choice has to end, welfare has to be exactly that - sustainability during periods of unemployment.

Somehow or other the comfortable option of teenagers having kids and therefore getting looked after with free housing has to end. I'd suggest an end to any benefits after the second child.

We also have to identify the differences in our systems to the rest of the EU (the primary reason we have huge numbers of immigrants), and change the system to be comparable.

Finally I disagree with the implication of the second principle, which implies public money given to private recruitment companies.

It's not up to government to get people into employment AT ALL. Private companies who want employees will find them just fine on their own. Governments role is to provide the safety net of welfare together with education systems needed for the country as a whole.

What exactly is welfare reform? Is it getting people back into work? If so that will be impossible in an economy with very little manufacturing and a crippled service sector that cannot funtion because personal debt has dried up demand with new banking practice making easy consumer credit a thing of the past.

The Conservative party, like the government, is making a big mistake in thinking that David Freud's proposals will change anything, because the Freud analysis assumes that unemployment is a lifestyle, which is clearly a nonsence.

As I've explained countless times on these forums there are only ever 600,000 jobs at the absolute best end of the economic cycle, even if all these vacancies were filled it would leave 1.5 million front-line jobless who cannot possibly work, add to that the numbers that David Freud thinks can be moved from IB to JSA and we are looking at two million people who cannot possibly work.

We have to ask whether given the obvious fact that millions can never work, that is numbers rather than individuals, whether welfare reform is really now just a trojan horse being used by all parties for cutting peoples benefits, moving people off IB onto JSA, stopping benefits altogether for people unlucky enough to be out of work two years in three and so on?

What exactly is welfare reform? I believe it can only be about taking people off benefits and putting them into fully waged work. Otherwise no-one leaves the benefits system and welfare reform becomes a culture of spite, cutting benefits for the poorest people in our society.

I'd generally agree with Graeme.

Companies that need workers will find them - throwing money at recruitment agencies will only create jobs at those recruitment agencies.

What the government needs to do is remove barriers to employing people - low paid employment should be virtually paperwork free. Someone coming off benefits should be able to return very quickly should things not work out - or maybe just suspend benefits for weeks/months at a time while they get back into work.

Benefit claimants becoming parents should be offered contraception as a condition of receiving future payments. This would also reduce the 'Nth generation who havent' worked' issue.

If the recently unemployed can't find work, what hope is there for the long term until the economy has picked up?

The principle of those who can work, should work opens up the possibility of expanding public services at no extra cost.

If every able-bodied benefit claimant was required to "volunteer" for work with their local council for three days a week in return for their benefits, then we would get more streets swept, parks tended, grafitti removed, phones answered etc etc - for no extra cost.

I'm sure the list of "jobs" which they could "volunteer" for while they looked for work is extensive. Those who currently do these jobs - and who often claim to be overstretched and which are often cut in hard times - can become supervisors and there will be more people to do the work.

Two days a week are left for the claimants to find work and getting a job, from a job, is always easier, even if that job is a voluntary one.

Which Conservative Council is going to be the first to organise this? I'm sure it can be done on a "voluntary" basis initially as a trial and the upside of cleaner streets, better tended parks etc has to be a winner.

" throwing money at recruitment agencies will only create jobs at those recruitment agencies."

Good point PP. This has been the problem with the New Deal, it has become a gravy-train for its providors while youth unemployment has risen by 20%.

A better system would be to cut out the agencies and just have straight job-matching with people expected to take work if it is available.

The problem of long-term unemployment should be addressed by a 12 month public works programme built into the benefits system. This should be fully waged. In this way no-one will ever be left behind and an opportunity to earn a living wage will become an option for people out of work after a given time. Plus the state gets a return for its money in terms of manpower which it can apply in a 1001 ways.

John, what you propose would be illegal under employment law because it does not pay the minimum wage. One well-crafted legal challenge from a JSA claimant or other body and the government's whole workfare strategy would be declared illegal and opened up to ridicule. Would Theresa May want to be made a laughing stock in the courts? UK and European?

It could also be challenged under the human rights act which forbids forced labour by coercion. Threatening to withhold benefits to people who refuse to undertake work paid at less than the minimum wage falls well within the grounds for a legal challenge.

John, Surely a better way would be properly waged public works programmes for the long term unemployed. No-one could possibly object to the state providing fully waged work for the jobless. In fact, I'm confident that such a move would be greeted with widespread approval from the public. Especially in these times of high unemployment.

Get rid of all benefits and abolish income tax.

Unemployment insurance could be privatised which would stop millions of immigrants flooding in and free loading on the taxpayers but the tories support the Socialist Welfare Maternalist State so they would never adopt this sensible reform.

For the first time ever, I find myself in agreement with Tony Makara. The idea that people actively 'choose' to be poor is incredibly short-sighted to say the very least; living on a whole £60.50 a week from which you are expected to find part of your rent and all of your food, clothing and other bills is not enviable, is not indicative of a luxury lifestyle.
There will always be those who do not want to work; its an historical problem. Dr Johnson, writing in the 1750s, called it unforgivable. And so condemn them; cut off their money. Fine. But don't condemn en masse all those who are not working and make blithe assumptions that people are fundamentally lazy unter-menschen good-for-nothings.
The Conservatives should be cutting off the welfare creep that has meant that the number of benefit recipients has increased exponentially, but the amount that they receive has barely changed in the past twelve years. They must sharply question the psyche of an individual who is so hopeless and apathetic that they would think a life of dire poverty sufficient to their being. The Conservatives should be building on the US model that encourages pride, responsibility and a strong sense of self in Americans. Getting people back to work is not just about cutting off their money. It's about making them feel that they are of value, are useful, and have opinions that matter; that they have a say about what is going on in their lives. It's about not only pledging to end Child Poverty, but to end adult poverty too: in particular, the impoverished mind. The more an entire portion of society is vilified and isolated and ghettoized, the greater the problems stored up for later.

No-one could possibly object to the state providing fully waged work for the jobless.

If nobody could object, why is unemployment a problem across the whole of the Western world? Doesn't that suggest that your solution is ill-thought out (ie simply unaffordable)

Mara, glad we can agree that the vast majority who genuinely want to work shouldn't be tarred with the same brush as those who through habit or inclination have no intention of working.

David, following up on Mara's point, and yours, a mandatory fully waged public works programme built into the benefits system would have a duel effect. It would provide a welcome opportunity for those out of work to earn a living wage, and, it would make work unavoidable for those who prefer not to work.

Those who advocate that the state not provide work and that unemployment can be resolved by the market, have to expect periodically high levels of unemployment and cannot complain if people are on the dole for years in some cases. Long-term unemployment and the concept of a lifetime on benefits would be eradicated by a mandatory, but fully waged, works programme built into the benefits system.

Golden rule: Being on benefits should be less comfortable than taking the lowest paid job. If you think you are worth more, then go and find someone to pay you more.


If you consider the amount of effort it takes for someone to get a full set of benefits set up and being regularly paid. It is understandable that someone would not want to give them up and risk having to get them all going again unless there is a *very* good chance of things working out.

This isn't a moral argument, just a rational human nature one.

Benefits should be very low (so as not to compete with low paid work), but should be far, far easier to drift in and out of.

We have heard all this before. No-one will get the unemployed to work. I had a busy pub in a town centre for 20 years, and the dole scroungers that were there in 1990 are still there and still not working (only cash in hand). Any jobs there are in the low paid sector will be taken up by immigrants who live 10 or 20 to a house and whose money is sent back home.

BUPA will be making a killing out of taxpayers' money trying to get people to work, and it will have very limited success - as someone has already said, all it will do is create jobs in the BUPA offices.

The only way to get the dole scroungers to work is to make the low paid and unpleasant jobs really well paid and then they will take them, so it may be cheaper to keep them on the dole.

Very, very few people live on benefits out of choice - that's a myth. There hasn't been a sudden increase in fecklessness - it's the economy. Benefits are very low - you try living on £60.50 a week. Unemployment is a direct cause of ill health, both mental and physical.

It would be great if we could remove the couple's penalty, as that would simplify the system immensely and reduce the main source of fraud (which incidentally is very low), but it would cost billions. Cohabitees are heavily penalised, so people say they are single to retain their meagre benefits. If the Tories can come up with something on this, I'm all ears.

One of things job centres now do is demonstrate the net increase in weekly earnings people get from working, even taking into account reduced benefits.

My view is they aren't earning, they should be offered learning, and when the time comes, they will be more employable.

There is a difference between dole and social security benefits. Very few people survive on the dole out of choice I agree but I know a great many that survive on social security benefits by choice.

Ultimately no-one is going to be leaving the benefits system until we have an economy in place that creates jobs and pays decent wages.

Currently the service sector culture means that even working people end up on benefits like tax-credits and rent-rebates.

Welfare reform can only take place when we have economic reform and a more balanced economy, one geared towards productive industries that can provide for better wages out of productivity.

..scratches eyeballs out with fingernails to prevent me ever having to read another post from Tony about his balanced economy manufacturing full-employment la-la land.

ToryBlog, can the blind lead the blind!

I agree with a-tracy. The problem is not single unemployed people, who are generally just struggling to find work, especially now.

Instead of paying companies to provide make-work at the expense of the real economy, & sending people on often pointless training courses, those who sign on at the Job Centre could be offered the chance to do voluntary work & be exempt from the futile job search procedure. They would receive their benefits & do something of use. This should be a voluntary scheme: I have no objection to the principle of coercion, but I just think it wouldn't work from the point of view of the voluntary organisations & those they serve.

Let advisers at the Job Centre actually do something useful which will help claimants get decent jobs once the economy recovers. Something like the "New Deal", but better, should be optional for any new claimant. I know a lot would jump at the chance.

Welfare was botched before the recession. It was geared towards unskilled workers & the Job Centre did next to nothing to get people into sustainable work. I myself was out of a job at the beginning of 2008 & found their behaviour inappropriate & deeply unhelpful & got a job of my own accord: their attempts to "help" me didn't succeed in the least as they didn't even pretend to be aimed at me.

The real welfare problem is generational unemployment. You have got to wonder what sort of person would, when on benefits, have a child. Do they not stop & think what sort of life that infant will have?

I am of the view that child benefit should not be paid after the third child. I am also considering whether it is best not to pay for any child conceived on welfare. At the same time, contraception & abortion should be made more widely available (the same goes for foreign countries, of course).

This country is not underpopulated. We do not need to spawn a generation who will grow up knowing nothing but raw deprivation. They are if anything even worse off than starvelings in the third world, who may have less to eat but who at least live vaguely dignified lives.

A further solution would be to encourage housing associations to buy up new-build properties which have gone unsold. A mixture of tenures would remove the bleakness which envelops estates such as the one I spent my formative years on & my parents rushed out of once they had exercised their right to buy & sold up.


That is true or it would need legislation, but it could be done voluntarily by claimants. I wonder how many people would respond to the chance to have something on their CV rather than nothing?

LoL Tony. I could just about read your retort through the dried blood. :-)

"No-one could possibly object to the state providing fully waged work for the jobless."

It's a diversion of resources away from where there is a genuine demand for them. The money used to fund this scheme could be invested elsewhere e.g. in the capital goods industries that promote economic growth.

What sort of jobs will these people be doing? What happens to whatever it is they've been working on when they begin to become properly employed again?

John, no-one would object to voluntary work of course. My concern is that people could be exploited for cheap/free labour. Workfare would undermine wages in general if the unemployed are forced to carry out work for less than the going rate.

As for enhancing a CV, no-one would object the unemployed being allowed to train while being in receipt of benefits, so long as it was proper traning leading to a recognized qualification. Unlike the government's New Deal which has seen people used as cheap labour in supermarkets that have donated to the Labour party. All under the guise of 'work-experience'.

Welfare reform has to be about helping people rather than waving a punitive big stick at them for being on benefits. Work not workfare is the only thing that will take people off benefits.

ToryBlog, the Devil's Kitchen is the place one might expect to find dried blood...and even drier humour!

I agree that the Unemployment System could be privatised, or at least seperated from government control as it is in France: hence why "asylum seekers" don't stay there and come straight to Blighty!

Such an insurance system would be easy to set up, regulation could ensure that all people are covered who pay in. It would also give a massive boost to individual responsibility!

It would also stop chav teenagers thinking that they can just get pregnant and "get on benefits and get a council 'ouse", because they simply won't get anything.

It would cut the cost of benefits by at least £50-100 billion per annum

RichardJ, local MBCs are quite capable of creating jobs, these could be anything from jobs involving manual labour to care work and even intellectual tasks.

When we consider that people are paid JSA, plus rent, plus council tax rebate and other rebates, it wouldn't cost that much more to make them fully waged and through their manpower the state would actually be seeing a return for its money, unlike at present under the money-for-nothing system.

The state can end long-term unemployment forever if it builds a public works programme into the benefits system. If it doesn't it will have people out of work for years. Its time to be radical, time for change!

The state can end long-term unemployment forever if it builds a public works programme into the benefits system

Please tell me you are on medication and that you have not been taking the required doseage.

I am not trying to be rude, but to be blunt, your proposals are just bonkers, making it impssible to even begin criticising them.

It is for that reason that I post, as I fear that the danger in even airing such lunacy is that George Osborne might be reading and later suggest it as his own idea...

"Otherwise no-one leaves the benefits system and welfare reform becomes a culture of spite, cutting benefits for the poorest people in our society."

I agree, that would be unacceptable to me. I am listening very carefully to what May is saying and in some respects she is right. I don't like the sound of simplified welfare. One benefit for all out of work people could be an excuse for very deep cuts. Clearly there is a vast difference between the welfare needs of a single man out of work for the first time and a very sick person.

"Such an insurance system would be easy to set up" In fact we already have an expensive insurance arrangement. Single motherhood in its current form is something we should, indeed must be rid of. Marriage should be the thrust of our re-balancing of welfare.

Please tell me you are on medication and that you have not been taking the required dosage. I think he is right, we are paranoid of doing the right thing.” In fact I will get far further proposing rearmament, which is obscene. Married Ladies will understand that we have little choice if Russia is going first. We need to set a consensus in which this great Nation is first among the equals. The times rightly has identified this urge for “going it alone” I want to see our Nation awarding its mothers decorations. Our Grandfathers ran homes on one income, and supported 5 children or more, an increasingly greedy class of professionals has taken us for mugs. Of course we needed less in the 1940’s, but even so whom are we kidding? Tony isn’t mad he is right we need to spend Billions; we could do with a complete set of nuclear shelters like they have in civilised countries. We must produce and so the choice will be as always what do we want to make. There is no reason why steel made in Britain cannot produce battleships in Britain. It’s a matter of national will. After all there is always the old colonial model to reassess. Rhodesia is crying out for a regime change. We need to install a new privateer sprit in our country. BTW “ how about a loyal oath”. Our future is to remain outside of Europe away from the creeping national socialism of mother Russia.

I see, as ever, a schoolboy response to a very serious matter is coming from the usual people. I suppose this is very much a generational thing. I'm old enough to remember when half a million unemployed was regarded as a scandal and one million on the dole made front page banner headlines.

The younger generation has grown up with lazy comfort-zone politicians and court economists who believe that one million is actually equal to full employment. So little wonder they have a skewed perspective.

I just wish people would take the matter of unemployment more seriously.

local MBCs are quite capable of creating jobs, these could be anything from jobs involving manual labour to care work and even intellectual tasks.
Local and Central Government and the private sector have schemes where people do such things, they're called jobs, they have them because they've decided that the particular work in question needs to be done (rightly or wrongly) and that they have found people capable of doing it, if the jobcentre has a waged scheme then either it will end up replacing existing payment of wages as a lot of YTS\ET did, where many companies simply recruited through the schemes and so were subsidised in employing people they would mostly have employed anyway, millions of people at full wages, doing what work?

Maybe they aren't suitable for the work available, and at what cost? The employers have cherry picked the people they already want, so if the state isn't going to spend any extra on it then the only alternative would be workfare at benefit rates. This actually is legal because there are exempted schemes under the Minimum Wage Act, there is no Human Right to a Minimum Wage, even under the European Court Human Rights and the British Human Rights Act, under such Human Rights legislation there is a responsibility to attempt to prevent a country's population from starving (this applies to all countries in the UN), there is no more a general right to the minimum wage or state benefits then there is to free bus passes - people who are eligible are eligible, people who are not covered by the Act are not, I am in favour of leaving the ECHR and ECJ and abolishing the Human Rights Act (as well as The National Minimum Wage), if someone though is not classified as employed then the NMW does not apply to them.

Yet Another Anon, I think you are wrong on the question of a legal challenge to workfare. It can be challenged on the question of minimum wage and under the human rights act which clearly states that forced labour by act of coercion is not allowed.

On the matter of creating jobs for the long term unemployed, the Thatcher government was able to do this with its Community Programme. The mistake it made was in not making the programme mandatory and as part of the benefits system.

The reality is if we do nothing about long term unemployment then it will continue into another generation. Its time to call time on long term unemployment. The state has to play a role here in providing waged work for the jobless. The only objections to such a scheme are ideological and they are not at all logical.

As for ToryBlogs fear that a senior figure in the party might run with this idea, then all I can say is pray god that they do. It took a Conservative government to provide waged work for the jobless in the 1980s, now we need a Conservative government to do the same. Give the long term unemployed a chance of guaranteed work.

Unemployment can easily be solved by apointing an extra 3 million traffic wardens.

The polls still show the Lib dems with stupendous momentum, above the 11% in 2007! Watch out for a lib dem cabinet in may 2010.

I shall look, and as many have looked for hope in this last year, I am sure I will look in vain.

Some very interesting thoughts here. One thing that all seem to be in agreement is that paying private companies to "find people work" simply creates recruitment jobs, so let's dump that policy & move on.

I've been unemployed & also an employer as such I've seen the jobcentre from both angles - it sould be renamed "benefits centre".

From what I've seen (other than a good "jobs board") their place in life is to advise on benefits. I am currently an employer & I constantly offer people jobs only to hear "my JC adviser says I would be worse off taking that job...".

We don't need advisers to get people jobs. Employers will fill the vacancies they have and interested applicants will find their way to employers themselves.

What we really need is an incentive for people to find work on their own. The key to this is benefits.

Benefits are a chicken/egg scenario, when people are comfortable on benefits they won't look harder for work. So what about a 6 month limit on "decent" benefits, followed by a 50% cut? With the full rate only collectable once every 5 years?

But of course the overriding issue is the balance between vacancies and unemployed - this is where government effort needs to be placed.

The tax on jobs (employers NI) together with overbearing regulation make employers think very hard before employing additional staff - I am one, I need more people in the office but am "making do" because of tax & the promise of increased tax and the regulations I face. The VAT threshold rules prohibit growth from millions of small companies.

We need to distinguish between the deserving and the undeserving poor, and we need to delegate the administration of welfare down to a local, non political, community level.

This could take the form of parish councils, or even welfare juries, where people of good character assess the needs and efforts of individuals.

Furthermore, no benefits, or any other public services, should be provided to non-British citizens.

Additionally, a premium should be placed on supporting the married, and no recognition of cohabiting relationships or illegitimate children should be permitted.

"We need to distinguish between the deserving and the undeserving poor"

Well put Hugh, this is an important concept.
There are many truly sick and disabled people who deserve our support. I believe the way forward is to know your claimants. There is a downside to this, which is that it will require a lot more people administering our benefits system. Real Welfare reform will cost more in the early stages and will only provide savings over a number of years.
All to often all claimants are branded as work-shy fraudsters. The reality is that there are those in the system who should not be getting their benefits, but it takes some determination to "out" them. Of course Welfare is an easy target and it is hardly surprising that Mp's imagine that many claims consist of creative reporting, when so many of them are on the fiddle themselves.
We need to stop the gravy train culture of Westminster before we are in a moral position to lecture welfare claimants. National insurance is a very expensive cost for all those of us who are working, and we have ever right to expect good benefits when we are in genuine need.Make work schemes may be an easy way to get votes from the Mail reading morons, but the reality is they will cost a fortune to set up. As we know government is very poor at getting value for money and so any workfare schemes are very likely to cost far more than the benefits they save. Welfare reform is pretty meaningless, unless the economy is starting to recover. Unless we have a vibrant economy such schemes become nothing more than a cosmetic stunt a revolving door into long term poverty. No thanks !!

Three excellent principles; putting them into practice during The Great Recession won't be easy, but is essential.

While we're at it Dave should dig out his copy of Policy Exchange's excellent 2008 report on regeneration, be brave.

"any workfare schemes are very likely to cost far more than the benefits they save"

This is a very good point and one not understood by advocates of workfare. Someone involved in such work-for-dole would have to be provided with daily travel costs, perhaps clothing, and then there is the question of insurance?

What happens if a JSA claimant is injured or even killed while being forced to do workfare? The legal implications and media reaction could be very damaging to a government if people are injured or killed while being forced to work at sweatshop rates of pay doing workfare.

Politicians are now chasing their own tail over welfare reform and David Freud's proposals will be exposed as an expensive failure long before there is a Conservative government.

Its easy for politicians to talk about puting people into work but doing it is another matter altogether. So instead they end up making cliched speeches in an attempt, not to impress the public, but rather to impress each other.

The reality of welfare reform is that its more about Theresa May versus James Purnell than helping people find work.

QUOTE: "No-one could possibly object to the state providing fully waged work for the jobless." UNQUOTE

On pain of losing benefits? I'm not sure that Europe would "allow" us. As a voluntary thing? "We'll give you more money, but you must work for it". The government as a sort of employer of last resort? The danger is the government would be inventing non-jobs and these jobs would come to be relied on in an area - particularly in a deprived area where real jobs are probably never going to return.

@ Hugh Oxford, I agree with the majority of what you said, but I have to disagree with you on this

"Additionally, a premium should be placed on supporting the married, and no recognition of cohabiting relationships or illegitimate children should be permitted."

Why should non-religious (or those from religions that don't require marriage) couples be penalised for their beliefs? Why should a couple that have been married for 1 year get support from the state when another couple that have been in a relationship for 10 years get nothing?

This would simply cause people to get married just for the benefits, resulting in more short-term marriages. I'm guessing you work for the Church with an idea like that.

Let’s face it,the unemployed, whether genuine or not are about the only minority these days we are allowed to scapegoat. Probably because over the years the media has created the perception that it is mainly whites doing it (though far from it).But hey, I’ve got another idea, how about cutting back on a few cohesion projects and these endless race quangoes and the phoney job positions that go with it (like ‘Diversity Manager’)? If not then how about cutting back on the translation costs which is costing this country scores of millions for one city alone (Milton Keynes)? The Local Government Association says they are one of four key extra costs faced by local government because of high immigration. The Metropolitan Police estimates its interpretation service costs £20million a year. And I know it’s more or less the same for my borough, Ealing. So how much more when that number is multiplied over the whole multicultural landscape?

Search ResultsMilton Keynes hires 15 times more interpreters than a decade ago …Melting pot: Milton Keynes has 300 interpreters to help residents who speak 84 … A spokesman for Milton Keynes council said the centre was ‘cost neutral’ …

You Tories make me sick with your selective bullying.

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