Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

Let’s be careful with Workfare

1 Comment

I’m all in favour of the work-shy being forced to work in charities or other voluntary sector bodies to get their Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) but what I am not in favour of is large corporates taking advantage of the Government Workfare scheme to get in people to work in their stores for free. There is either a vacancy or not. If there is a vacancy, advertise it and employ the person at the advertised rate. If there isn’t a vacancy, then you won’t need that person to come in and stack shelves overnight. Will you?

As I’ve written before, despite being a believer in capitalism and the free market I side with Wilberforce when it comes to slave labour. Employing a man or woman in a charity shop to get their JSA is one thing but helping to increase the profits of a FTSE 100 company without being rewarded by that company is out of order.

So, I must disagree on this occasion with employment minister Chris Grayling, for the reasons stated above, who I usually very much admire, when he said last week that those who criticised the Government’s Workfare policy were “job snobs”.

But before my Left-wing friends get excited again, I am very much with Paul Staines of the Guido Fawkes parish when he points out we are all had to start somewhere, and, apart from the trust fund babies like Cameron and Osborne, that was at the bottom. We worked for a pittance but with one eye on the opportunity to build a career in the future with far higher rewards. I worked for Hewlett Packard for a year back in 1999 doing a job for very little money because I was on a student placement during my university degree. It was the same job my colleagues who worked in a permanent position were doing for twice if not three times as much as I made. Some might argue that’s not fair but that is life: I had not got my degree yet and was therefore being paid commensurate to my qualifications. But when I got my degree I got paid more: that’s how it works. But I still got money for my efforts (unlike the poor chap stacking shelves in Tesco for nothing) even if it was hardly enough to live on.

Despite what the Labour party say, there are in fact tens of thousands of private sector vacancies across the UK at the moment. But most of them are being filled by immigrants because they are seen as too lowly by the British unemployed. This is why you hear nothing but foreign accents serving you in our food and drink outlets up and down the land. This is a real problem caused by a cushy benefits system where you can currently get more benefits than you can earn working and an open-borders policy since 2007 (I wonder who was in power then?) which Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May is now having to sort out.

Once we have dealt with this twin problem we might start to see the return of a British strong work ethic, which will bring growth back to our economy that benefits us all. But let’s do this without providing free labour to the wealthy corporates.

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Author: gavinmaclure

IT professional; political blogger, former Conservative councillor

One thought on “Let’s be careful with Workfare

  1. Not sure the problem is so much "cushy benefits", more an aggressive tax regime that cuts in far too early and penalises those trying to escape the poverty cycle. That's why Charlie Elphicke and Robert Halfon are so right to back the Lib Dems sudden conversion to tax cuts and suggest lifting the threshold to £10k as soon as possible. If not sooner. This simple move would make work pay more than benefits, helping many to do what they want, which is work, rather than subsist on a demoralising handout.It is undoubtedly true there are some on the dole who do not want to work. These scroungers are long term unemployed and frankly are mostly unemployable. The vast majority of people get a new job within 6 months of losing the old one. Most get a new job within three months. The thing is, in far too many cases, these scrounging tossers of Shameless fame are those who give the rest of the unemployed a bad name. Most people don't want to be unemployed, its a depressing, demoralising situation, especially when faced with employers who don't bother to even reply to applications. Being told you are not good enough to rejoin "normal" society time and again destroys a persons self esteem. Having to stay on benefits because financially it makes no sense to work is just as demoralising. The Tories care for the working man, whoever he or she is. Rich or poor. So prove it. Go out there and campaign for a tax cut that helps everyone, but proportionately favours those who most need it – the working poor. Raise tax thresholds and take people out of tax. That would do much more to boost employment in this country than forcing people to work for free at Tesco or Oxfam or even Ipswich Furniture Project.

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