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Workhouses are coming back as Tories cut Tax-Credits and tell us to work like Chinese workers

Tory Chancellor George Osborne has announced the return of the workhouse, in all but name, in a callous and cynical clampdown on Britain’s long-term unemployed during a speech at the Conservative Party conference.

The tough but exploitative stance comes into effect in April 2016 and will affect every claimant who has been unemployed for over three years. Those affected could face thirty hours of unpaid community work per week for six months; such as making meals for the elderly, cleaning up litter and graffiti or charity work, plus 10 hours of “job search activity”. They may also be required to visit the job centre every day, which some commentators have said is treating unemployed people like criminals who are required to sign in daily at their local police station.

The Tories have also announced a mandatory intensive regime for claimants with underlying health problems such as mental health issues, drug addiction or illiteracy. Those who refuse face sanctions of a loss of benefit for 4 weeks for a first offence, rising to 3 months for a second and 3 years for repeat offenders.

The Conservative Party believes this to be the correct approach, insisting the aim is to help long-term unemployed back into work. However, critics are citing “work for your dole” as a cynical ploy to exploit the unemployed and stigmatise the poor, with Shadow Treasury Secretary, Rachel Reeves saying: “It’s taken three wasted years of rising long-term unemployment and a failed Work Programme to come up with this new scheme.”

In contrast, Labour’s compulsory jobs guarantee, involves working with employers, ensuring there is a paid job for every young person out of work for over 12 months and for every unemployed older unemployment benefit claimants who have been out of work for more than two years. If these job offers are not accepted they face losing their benefits. This is unlike the Tory scheme, which the Shadow Treasury Secretary compared to leaving people languishing on the dole for years without having a proper job.

The chancellor told the Tory Party Conference that for the first time all long-term unemployed people, who are capable of work, will be required to do something in return for their benefits. The scheme when it comes into force in April 2016 will target the 200,000 long-term Job seeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants a year, many of which have been failed by the government’s controversial Work Programme.

Critics of the Work Programme say the government are cynically blaming long-term unemployed people for the failures of work schemes by demanding they continue to work for free. Opponents of the Work Programme say the schemes amount to nothing less than ‘slave labour’, as they provide free labour for businesses to assist them in keeping wage costs down. The government has vehemently denied this.
Those with underlying problems like drink and drug addiction and mental health issues will be given an intensive regime of help, as will those who have literacy problems the government say, which critics have described as stigmatising the unemployed and those with debilitating mental health conditions.

The Daily Stigma – an on-line paper, run by mental health charity MIND – carries the story of a benefit claimant with paranoia. He fees guilty about claiming benefits and scared to go anywhere in case people think he is a ‘scrounger’ milking the system. For him, it is a constant nightmare, being made to feel like the lowest of the low. In the same edition, a benefits advisor agrees, saying that every day they deal with claimants who have been found fit to work despite having serious mental health conditions. They cite the example of a claimant who has schizophrenia, whilst this is pretty much under control; he still struggles with paranoia and cannot handle pressure well. The anxiety caused by the assessment process and job hunting is causing so much stress, the advisor is concerned he will be pushed back into severe illness.

Jeremy Hunt wants poor Brits to work like the Chinese in new insult piled on tax credit cuts

Jeremy Hunt walks past anti Tory protestors

The Health Secretary claims low-paid workers lack dignity and self-respect - as the Conservatives slash tax credits

Jeremy Hunt has demanded millions of poor people facing tax credit cuts work harder.
He said the low-paid lack “dignity and self-respect” and should graft like staff in Chinese sweatshops.
His comments declaring struggling workers should have their tax credits axed and be made to graft harder betrayed the true Tory contempt for hard-up Brits.
The wealthy Health Secretary, worth an estimated £4.8 million, stepped up the Conservative war on the poor when he suggested underpaid staff lack dignity and self-respect, despite being trapped in a poverty his party helped create.
Fellow Tories, disgusted by the assault on tax credits which will leave more than three million families £1,300 a year worse off, are joining the growing protests.
But Mr Hunt said those losing the cash should take their lead from workers in China, who put in punishing hours.
Union chief Len McCluskey said: “This is a disgraceful insult.”

Disqus for Ste Matthew Murray


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