Questions for Chris Mole

So it’s looking like the Great Crunch hasn’t caused any kind of revision in the government’s workfare plans. This is a press release from Chris Mole MP (crazy name, crazy guy):

The Minister was in Ipswich to visit the JobCentre Plus in Silent Street to see how people are being encouraged to return to work, and discuss with staff the role of sanctions on benefits for those who don’t cooperate with new training and assistance from the JobCentre. The discussion also focussed on the role of local employers in helping to encourage those who are long-term unemployed back to work.

The proposals would see people who have been unemployed for two years or those who go on and off of benefits working for their benefits and for the benefit of the local community.

The proposals would see those people in Ipswich who have been through the support of the New Deal and still haven’t found work or people who have a history of going on and off benefits taking part in full time community activity in return for their benefits. This will give people work experience that employers look for and will help flush out the people who are abusing the system or working while still signing on.

Commenting on the new plans, Chris said:

‘Long term unemployment is down 76% in Ipswich and more people are in work than ever before. But the days of mass unemployment have left scars and in some families worklessness has been passed down from generation to generation.’

‘This could be a win-win situation. Unemployed people will get valuable experience of work and we can all think of work that needs doing in the local community.’

The Ipswich Unemployment Action blog makes the point that claimants will have to be supervised. How much will it cost to train and salary these supervisors?

I have some questions of my own:

– Why is it that we never hear any information about what these claimants will be doing for their £1:73 an hour, or names of companies and organisations that are signing up? Volunteer work can be a great way to improve your skill set and thus increase your social mobility, but filling in potholes or doing outbound sales for next to nothing is not going to achieve much either for your CV or your quality of life in general.

– In these Troubled Economic Times™ shouldn’t every possible vacancy be advertised as an actual job? If there is work that needs doing why not pay a proper salary for it and get some wealth creation going on?

– If claimants are working 30 hours per week for their benefits, doesn’t that cut into the time when they could be filling out proper job applications and attending interviews?

– Why is it that, as a society, we are obsessed with cracking down on people who defraud the state of relatively small amounts while MPs who charge their servants’ accommodation to the taxpayer face almost no sanction?

The Ipswich bloggers raise the point that this is going to undercut the pay of those already in work. This could be a precedent for the further downgrading of the salaried job. We’ve gone from permanent contract work with benefits and protection to temporary work with almost no benefits and a third of the salary creamed off by recruitment consultants. This could be another step down.

(Via Andrew Coates)

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5 Responses to “Questions for Chris Mole”

  1. Annie Says:

    Max, these are really salient points.

    There are huge problems with our unemployment service. I see it on a daily basis. People being dealt with punitively and not given the support they need to find work that suits them, not helped to gain skills and confidence, not treated with any individuality (or respect), made to feel like the are not a valued part of society.

    This plan is really worrying. I think you are right. If there are jobs, then people should be paid a proper wage for them. If people can be found work, then pay them minimum wage, otherwise surely it is illegal and they would have the right to legally challenge their ‘pay’ under european and national statute.

    God, what is happening to our country.

  2. Andrew Coates Says:

    Thanks for raising this. It’s extremely annoying that Chris Mole said this. He hasn’t retracted recently as far as I know.

  3. Dan Says:

    Labours biggest achievement was the National Minimum Wage – a way of ending poverty. Even though the current agenda of tackling child poverty and the success 10 years on of the NMW (Government figures: 1.5 million people receive less than NMW so multiply that by pi might get you a better figure).

    Now a big U-turn will be forced-labour at under £2 hour.

    http://intensiveactivity.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/concerns-raised-over-ymca-training-organisation/

  4. Lowestoft's Finest Says:

    I can’t see any difference between this scheme and a Community Service Order. Surely this contravenes the Human Rights Act as the unemployed are receiving the same punishment (in fact a lot harsher as most Community Service Orders are a lot shorter than even the old New Deal) without having committed any crime in the first place? All this scheme does is criminalise the unemployed.

  5. Flexible New Deal Says:

    Might be of interest to you, New Deal Scandal has published the Multi-programme New Deal Contracts online @ http://www.newdealcontracts.co.uk/MultiProgramme/

    Feel free to register on the site to leave comments specifying whether you think your local provider has breached such contract in whole or part.

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