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Does the welfare system need reform?

09:41 UK time, Thursday, 27 May 2010


The government has laid out plans for what it calls a "root and branch reform" of Britain's welfare system. Are these reforms needed?

The Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, who is in charge of the reforms has condemned the existing system as 'bust'. He says for too many people "work simply doesn't pay". He wants to at simplify the benefit system and make it worthwhile for the unemployed to work

The proposals include paying welfare-to-work providers on a results-basis, loans to help unemployed people set up their own businesses and local work clubs. They also want to speed up the assessment of all those on incapacity benefit paid to those unable to work due to health problems.

In the proposals the government aims to end what it claims is a system that penalises those on benefits should they try to get a low-paid job.

What do you think of the changes? Are changes necessary? Does our benefit system discourage people from seeking work? Will the new proposals put genuine claimants at a disadvantage? Are you a benefit claimant?

Comments

Page 1 of 15

  • Comment number 1.

    Where are the jobs going to come from?

    How many employers are crying out for unqualified, inexperienced workers with dubious health problems?

    If you were on benefits (not a princly sum, never mind what the daily mail says) would you work for 40 hours each week for £10 more?

  • Comment number 2.

    Its perfectly simple.

    It should not be possible to be better off on welfare than you are working for a living.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    I look forward to seeing where 5 million extra jobs, many of them needing extra support, are going to come from.

  • Comment number 5.

    John H wrote: If you were on benefits (not a princly sum, never mind what the daily mail says) would you work for 40 hours each week for £10 more?

    Your attitude is one of the reasons this country is now in the dumps.

    It doesn't matter that it's only £10 per week extra, you should have a sense of self pride where you would want to work, instead of accepting handouts.

  • Comment number 6.

    #2. At 11:03am on 27 May 2010, Delirium wrote:
    “Its perfectly simple.

    It should not be possible to be better off on welfare than you are working for a living.”

    It isn’t though, it’s only better off claiming if you take a part time, 16 hour a week job on minimum wage, by my calculations anyway.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think that if you are on benefits for more than 6 months you should be made to do community work to carry on recieving them. This will provide valuble experience that many on benefits lack, a good service for the local community (cleaner streets, parks etc) and also give people a reason and motivation to try and get off of the benefit system so that they can find something to their liking.

  • Comment number 8.

    Unfortunately there are still a lot of people who cheat the benefit system. They should be automatically jailed for fraud because, quite simply, they are thieves.

    However there are also a lot of people out there who call people on benefits "Scroungers".

    Having been made redundant 3 times, (and found work again) I only wonder if those people will be quite as smart about it when THEY lose THEIR jobs.

    It's easy to judge others. Put yourself in their shoes!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Since many jobs are paid badly, it's not worthwile to work for some people. No one wants to be exploited. Thus, the minimum wage needs to be raised so that a real job becomes more profitable than the benefits. If that was done, the government could make unemployed people seek work.
    But I do not think the benefit system in general needs reform. It's all right. I absolutely agree with Iain Duncan Smith.

  • Comment number 10.

    1. At 11:00am on 27 May 2010, JohnH wrote:
    Where are the jobs going to come from?

    How many employers are crying out for unqualified, inexperienced workers with dubious health problems?

    ----

    An excellent point.

    In the current economic climate and with the anticipated cuts to the public sector, is it really realistic to expect the private sector to employ people with blank CVs?

  • Comment number 11.

    Something has to be done. There are Mums at my daughter's school on benefits that have a higher disposable income than me and going on holiday this year--abroad. I am a professional with a mortgage and I cant afford a holiday or the luxuries that she can afford--it is wrong. She says she has no desire to work as doesnt need to--I cant say I blame her.

  • Comment number 12.

    Go ahead. It's not like the poor and the vulnerable paying for the mistakes of the rich is anything new. And don't kid yourself - the genuine disabled will be tossed under the bus because the professional frauds will continue to beat the system.

  • Comment number 13.

    Absolutely. Our welfare system has become on option, a choice rather than working for a living. We have "career" welfare scroungers who have never contributed a penny. We have immigrants allowed into Britain who claim benefits yet have never contributed a penny. We have career single Mothers who get "pay rises" for having more children. This while genuine cases, such as war veterans, Pensions & those unfortunate to have lost their jobs (and sometime more), because of the last Government's "prudent" economic policies, suffer badly and cannot claim because they have indeed been sensible with their earners and must use this first before they can get any help. Then of course there are the ever suffering tax payers, both individuals and companies alike, who are taxed so unfairly and are forced to pay for these scroungers life of Riley. This is not fair, not just and not right and needs putting right asap.

  • Comment number 14.

    1. At 11:00am on 27 May 2010, JohnH wrote:

    Where are the jobs going to come from?

    How many employers are crying out for unqualified, inexperienced workers with dubious health problems?

    If you were on benefits (not a princly sum, never mind what the daily mail says) would you work for 40 hours each week for £10 more?

    ---------------------------------------------

    For your first question I reckon very few because they can hire cheaper labour from other countries (poland for example). This is a fact and not a daft BNP advert. The migrant worker works for less money and works harder than the british counterpart. The problem is the migrant is getting about 3x their normal/expected wage (compared to home). Employers are taking advantage of that and I say that without judgement (it makes sense).

    The problem with reducing benefits is that the non-workers (who can work) are often unable to work because the jobs are given to cheaper labour. Effectively britain has priced out the british for unskilled workers (and some skilled).

    To solve this the gov must either increase the number of jobs, giving favour to brits for employment, or free up jobs from immigrants and give them to brits.

    Before some people bash me for racism or some other exadurated (and small minded) reason, I would like to point out that I have NEVER heard of any other solution, especially from those who will soon shout racist.

  • Comment number 15.

    Three main things need to be done:
    - make it less pleasant to be on benefits for long term unemployed (I'm not talking about truly disabled people here or short-term unemployed, but people who could work but are in the culture of not working)
    - create jobs
    - make it beneficial to get work, even if it's low paying work

    There are several ways to do the first, but people will probably complain about them being 'demeaning' - require suitable work in exchange for benefits; reduce benefits; give "vouchers" instead of money; instead of council houses, or rented accommodation, use campus style accomodation, with shared facilities.

    Helping business startups and small businesses is the best way to create jobs. There's every sign this is something this government aims to do. In some cases, for instance with disabled people, it may be that the government should help small businesses with making suitable changes to the workplace. Small businesses are currently excempt from the disability discrimination at work acts because of these costs, but most would be happy to employ a disabled person if they could have help with installing ramps or whatever.

    As well as proposed reductions to NI for new businesses, maybe these could also apply to small businesses taking on long-term unemployed people. Maybe small businesses could have access to free/subsidised training facilities if they take on long-term unemployed people.

    To make it beneficial to work, there has to be a phased reduction of benefits when people start earning their own money. There also has to be an understanding that a reasonable route to work is from unemployment to self-employment. As far as I can see, the current benefit system doesn't support this at all, and could even penalise it.

  • Comment number 16.

    Restrict welfare to those who need it and are unable to work. Simples.

  • Comment number 17.

    "It should not be possible to be better off on welfare than you are working for a living."

    I would fully agree.

    Unfortunatley,instead of being a saftey net for when you fall on hard times or trouble the Welfare state has become a big hammock for some.The problem is that we cannot afford to continue as we are,we are broke and an ageing society.Something will have to give.The problem with that is that it doesnt win votes so we will end up in a situation where it is slowly whittled away,so if you have worked (and contributed N.I)you may find that you have no pension and insurance to cover your old age.Whereas those who have have not.........well you know the rest.

    Personally I think that the state should pay out in vouchers, not cash,it should make sure that you have shelter ,warmth and food,it provides health and education free at the point of delivery.At least with vouchers you know how much you are spending and that they are been spent as they should be.

  • Comment number 18.

    Absolutely, we simply cannot afford to pay people who choose not to work, those who cant have got to be helped, it is clear some people are career unemployed. There are even issues with people who work, I know someone who recently turned down a promotion at work because it would put them into the next salary level and would cost them more in working tax credits than they would gain in salary.

  • Comment number 19.

    Yes there should be changes all benefit amounts should cut down to a just survive rate not over the top like they are now

  • Comment number 20.

    Lets be clear

    The top 7 industrialised nations have benefits as it's a wealth creating process in a recession.

    100% of people receive benefits in this country

    Benefits paid create full time jobs in the most poor community

    3.5 of the 11 million JOBLESS are skilled or high skilled workers.

    There are an estimated 1.3 million jobs for the 11 million jobles,over capacity in the system is a very clear problem.

    The majority of your calls seem to address two problems

    Means testing keeps 2m people in a poverty trap

    Experts have told the government to remove meanstesting for core benefits,close the jobcentre plus and burocrats all these measures will save the country 16 billion a year through direct and indirect costs.

    Restructure the government to be more efficeint.

    Cap and collar benefit levels.

    Remove regressive taxation like council tax.


    Asking the jobless to pay for the recession is morally redundant.....





  • Comment number 21.

    An effective way to reduce the number of children "born into poverty", reduce household income such that work becomes more attractive than being "parked" on benefits and reduce the overall state benefits bill would be to announce that nine months from yesterday no state benefits of any kind will be paid for the third or more child born to a mother after that date.

    Before being howled down I have not said that you cannot have as many children as you like, only that the "state" (i.e. everybody else) will not subsidise you to do so.

    I believe there are a raft of "bolt on" payments to the basics that need rather closer scrutiny.

  • Comment number 22.

    "
    2. At 11:03am on 27 May 2010, Delirium wrote:

    Its perfectly simple.

    It should not be possible to be better off on welfare than you are working for a living.
    "

    It needs to go further than that. The incentives must make it much better to be in work; the current system does not do this and traps many people who do what to work in a life on benefits. You hear of low paid workers who, if they take minimum wage jobs, would only be a fiver better off a week than on the dole; whose going to work for a fiver a week in this country?

  • Comment number 23.

    "
    3. At 11:05am on 27 May 2010, PaulRichard2 wrote:

    Labour was not soft on benefit claimants!
    "

    This to see someone here's got a sense of honour!

  • Comment number 24.

    15 Years ago under the last Tory government I joined a scheme that offered an incentive of £30 per week form 3 months once you are employed. It certainly worked for me to get off benefits and 15 years on I am still employed full time and have not claimed a single penny of any benefit since.

  • Comment number 25.

    1. At 11:00am on 27 May 2010, JohnH wrote:

    If you were on benefits (not a princly sum, never mind what the daily mail says) would you work for 40 hours each week for £10 more? "

    In that case benefits are too high...

  • Comment number 26.

    my son is a manager of a cleaning company and has been looking for someone to work from 5am to 8am 6 days a week so far all the people hes interview have tried to negoiate the hours saying 5am too early.they just dont want to get out of bed in the mornings they only go to the interview because the jobcentre tell them to.many hours have been wasted interviewing people who dont want the job anyway.

  • Comment number 27.

    After having to leave my previous job, i had no income so had to go on Job seekers while i searched for work. To date i have applied for 286 jobs. I have had only 47 replies from these and only 2 interviews. The jobs i have applied for i was more than qualified. Most of the companies i applied to did not even give me a reply whether via email or post. The government wants to get us back into work, but how can we when these employers do not even reply giving you an answer. The job centre i was with did not even seem to care whether i found work or not, they just wanted to process us as fast as possible. Even looking on the job centre website, i found many jobs that were out of date and could no longer be applied for. How can we be expected to find jobs when employers are being rude and abrupt and the job centre is not up to date.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think we need to allow part time or seasonal work to be taken on without affecting the benefits payments. There are a lot of opportunities for odd jobs, part time events work, etc, which people could do but don't because it would affect their benefits and the former government liked to brag about how they would always catch benefit cheats. We've probably all got experience of one job either leading to a promotion or new opportunity but the chances of this happening if people don't at least get some work is nill.

  • Comment number 29.

    My Dad always had a saying "you get so much more from working than just money!" I never understood it as a youngster but now in my early 40 ys realise how right he is.

  • Comment number 30.

    I agree with a benefits system that makes it better financially to be in work. But the shortage of vacancies, especially in lower skilled jobs, is the main cause of the unemployment problem.
    While many people on disability would like to be working how many are going to find an employer willing to take on someone whose ability to do the job varies unpredictably?

  • Comment number 31.

    6. At 11:10am on 27 May 2010, PaulRichard2 wrote:
    #2. At 11:03am on 27 May 2010, Delirium wrote:
    “Its perfectly simple.

    It should not be possible to be better off on welfare than you are working for a living.”

    It isn’t though, it’s only better off claiming if you take a part time, 16 hour a week job on minimum wage, by my calculations anyway.
    -----

    Maybe on straight benefit payments, but by the time you factor in housing & council tax assistance you can be considerably better off than you would be on minimum wage.

    Thats how a friend of mine has found herself trapped anyway.

  • Comment number 32.

    5. PaganView wrote:
    John H wrote: If you were on benefits (not a princly sum, never mind what the daily mail says) would you work for 40 hours each week for £10 more?

    Your attitude is one of the reasons this country is now in the dumps.

    It doesn't matter that it's only £10 per week extra, you should have a sense of self pride where you would want to work, instead of accepting handouts.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Then I will ask the question again, would you swallow your pride and work 40 hrs a week for £10 more than you would get on benefits?

    Answer truthfully now!

    And do not insult our intelligence.

  • Comment number 33.

    The Conservatives can't wait to get the axe out for the benefits system. They are drooling at the thought of it in a way that a dog drools at the thought of a prime rib eye steak. There is a huge problem in this country with benefits dependency; we have developed a whole culture which abhors work and sees scrounging off taxpayers as the only way to live. But the wholesale decimation (which is exactly what we’d get if Gideon and co thought they could get away with it) of a system designed to act as a safety net for all of us is not the answer. As ever the Conservative solution for the headache is cutting off the head.

    The better solution is to offer these people a real chance to do real jobs that pay a living wage and they will enjoy getting up for in the mornings. Such positions are hard to gain in this country if you’re an unskilled worker (which I can imagine many long term jobseekers claimants might be.) Do to this you need business on board, and demonstrating their willingness to:

    a) Employ these people
    b) Pay them a living wage.

    The problem is that:

    a) Many of these people are near unemployable due to generations of considering them “beyond help” and resigning them to a life on the scrapheap.
    b) The cost of living in this country being so high that paying a living wage could well bankrupt the company doing the hiring.

    In short, we are all partly to blame for benefit dependency. Most of us rubbed our hands together with glee when the cost of housing (and with it, therefore rent prices) shot through the roof in the 90s. Not considering for a second the “buyer” of the buyer/seller equation.

    Most of us were indifferent to the decimation of heavy industry which provided a lot of meaningful, enjoyable, and reasonably paid jobs for the unskilled. Everything was hunky dory as long as you got your cheap products made in slave labour conditions abroad. Out of sight, out of mind, eh?

    Now we are ALL paying the price with generational welfare dependency, and the financial and social cost that it brings.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are a hard core of layabouts who would not work under any circumstances. THESE are the ones who need their wings clipped. But I highly suspect the Conservatives will punish everyone for the bloody mindedness of this hardcore. Yes, the benefits system needs looking at, but it takes the Tories to actually ENJOY doing it.

    Long term reform and getting the long term jobless into work is a task that is going to take a whole generation to complete. It will not happen overnight. I therefore highly suspect we will go for the quick fix instead. So it will probably end up with Kinnock being right after all. “I warn you, not to get old, not to get sick, not to be made redundant….”

  • Comment number 34.

    Does the welfare system need reform?

    You have to ask HYS!?

    I'm not on a high salary but when a friend gets more for being on incapacity benefit for being "depressed" and loads more for the 3 kids he has to "support" than I would say yes, it needs reform.

  • Comment number 35.

    9. At 11:13am on 27 May 2010, LongJumpKonan wrote:

    Since many jobs are paid badly, it's not worthwile to work for some people. No one wants to be exploited. Thus, the minimum wage needs to be raised so that a real job becomes more profitable than the benefits."

    If you raise the minimum wage, all you do is (a) move even more jobs out of the country, and (b) increase the number of 'self-employed' immigrants doing jobs for less than the minimum wage (because self-employed people aren't subject to the minimum wage laws). We need to be making more jobs, not less!

    The benefits need to be reduced. Heck, get rid of them totally. They get their house paid for already, so pay for their electricity/water directly, and send round a van each week with a couple of bags of basic supplies...

    If I was single, and had my accommodation paid for, I could live quite happily on £50/week - it seems far too much to me.

  • Comment number 36.

    there could be some improvements? but i fear they will not be of benefit to the unemployed or disadvantaged ? of which i fear there will be many more soon?????

  • Comment number 37.

    To PaulRichard2
    I have to agree with you, even though I am a Tory. I know Labour were cracking down on so called scroungers, but after watching a TV programme on a certain private job training firm that were given countless million of pounds to get claimant off the sick, off JSA and into training and onto employment I was disgusted at the way people are treated by the system. They were treated without any sort of dignity and I recall a course essay I wrote on the stigma of the old workhouse and I thought immediately was reminded of the sources I found of the way people felt who had to rely on the workhouse to the way the poor, sick and jobless were treated in those days to the awfulness of spirit of the people on the modern back to work courses.
    I know there are people who are claiming benefits by fraud or they should not be on certain ones, but to take people off JSA and put them into the hell holes that are these training schemes is just sapping of the dignity of the people.
    As for the sick and those on Incapacity benefits why do people automatically think people are scrounging if they claim them?
    Like all new governments they take a new broom to almost everything, Labour did it with benefits, but I think that without taking care, not paying private firms who earn £billions from HM Gov to get the ‘scroungers’ off benefits there will be a lot of suicides, a lot of heartache and many people will think they are nothing more than a number when in fact they should be encouraged.
    One only has to look to the way people in the USA when people who were in good jobs, good health and full of life, hit the lowest point of despair when they become unemployed, sick and unable to afford a home to see we should not treat our people like this.
    It’s fine saying that anyone on benefits are scroungers, but one day, if you are not rich or maintain good health the detractors may just find themselves on the receiving end of the system they think is so good.

  • Comment number 38.

    Don't pay benefits in cash, vouchers are a much better idea. If people fall on hard times, I don't have a problem with the state helping out with shelter, utilities and food bills. I do have a serious problem with supplying said people with sky television, cigarettes and alchohol.

  • Comment number 39.

    Labour had started the process by getting people of IC. It really was not fair putting the onus solely on Doctors. People only assess their benefits on cash on hand. They are often do not consider HB and CTB.
    It does seem unfair that a European i.e a Spanish man who is married to a Brazilian is entitled to bring her family up to the grandparents into this Country and they would be entitled to benefits. Whereas an English person, who has not worked in Europe, is married to a Brazilian would not be entitled to bring in his wife's family - they would not be entitled to benefits.

  • Comment number 40.

    7. At 11:12am on 27 May 2010, Fitz13 wrote:

    I think that if you are on benefits for more than 6 months you should be made to do community work to carry on recieving them. This will provide valuble experience that many on benefits lack, a good service for the local community (cleaner streets, parks etc) and also give people a reason and motivation to try and get off of the benefit system so that they can find something to their liking.


    And so make it harder for them to get a job, seriously looking for work is a full time job itself, better to make them attend job clubs where their work seeking skills can be improved or get them on some form of training to increase their work skills, which is more or less what happens now. THe Tories plan to change it so private firms that fufill these functions are paid by results not just numbers.

  • Comment number 41.

    the huge problem I forsee is that all the people HYS wants targetted, the lazy, feckless scroungers, are the most able and capable of playing the system and will find the loopholes etc

    the people who should be supported, the sick and vulnerable are the very ones who find the current system difficult and will only fare worse under a more draconian regime

  • Comment number 42.

    I strongly suspect that many people here do not have the slightest clue what it's like to live on benefits and base their opinions on the screaming hysteria of the right wing press. Living on benefits is extremely hard. Incapacity benefits are shockingly low and woefully inadequate. Many people on incapacity benefit are suffering from some form of mental illness and are deemed virtually unemployable by the private and much of the public sector. However, recent evidence suggests that these people are being taking off incapacity benefits and forced onto jobseekers allowance by inexperienced, target-driven assessors. Even more disturbingly, the terminally ill are being deemed fit to work. The vulnerable in our society should not be paying for the greed and failure of the rich and powerful who caused this recession. There was always a high risk of this from the Tories and now we see the inevitable being played out. They have always been completely out of touch with the poorest and most vulnerable in society as they represent the interests of the middle and upper classes. We have five more years of this and I suspect it's going to get much, much worse.

  • Comment number 43.

    Ian Duncan Smith was on TV this morning and was asked where the jobs are to come from and trotted out the usual riposte that there are 500,000 job vacancies. OK, let's accept that figure as true and they're full time jobs not all paying just the minimum wage. But aren't there 2.5 million people unemployed officially, ie 2 million more than the are jobs for? And aren't there even more than 2.5 million unemployed according to the people who claim Labour massaged the figures in the first place? OK, let's assume 2.5 million is correct but 500,000 of those people don't actually want to work anyway. That leaves 2 million, still 1.5 million more than there are jobs for.

    So where ARE the jobs to come from and when? It's interesting that Ian Duncan Smith look a little uncomfortable when dealing with the point and had to concede things aren't going to happen overnight, but in the meantime an awful lot of people are going to be put under a great deal of pressure looking for jobs that just aren't there.

  • Comment number 44.

    33. At 11:32am on 27 May 2010, Dan Cochran wrote:

    The better solution is to offer these people a real chance to do real jobs that pay a living wage and they will enjoy getting up for in the mornings. Such positions are hard to gain in this country if you’re an unskilled worker (which I can imagine many long term jobseekers claimants might be.)"

    I get annoyed at the 'living wage' phrase - because it's meaningless. For some people 'living wage' would be about the UK average (about £22k). A true 'living wage' should be enough to live on - ie pay rent, fuel, and food (and occasional clothes). Round here, that would be about £9000 a year for a family of 4 - less than the Minimum Wage.

    What is needed is incentives for the unemployed to actually want to work. Also, support if they want to work themselves. 'Benefit Fraud' has been clamped down on so much, that if I wanted to hire someone on benefits to mow my lawn once a week for a fiver, I couldn't do it. If I could, then maybe next week, he could mow two lawns, then a few more, and soon he wouldn't need to be on benefits at all.

    I think this is what this government is aiming to help, and it's the best way to reduce unemployment. You have to realise that the days of big industry in the UK are fading rapidly - our labour costs are just too high compared to other parts of the world (thanks to the unions). So, small businesses are the way forward (currently more people are employed in small businesses in the UK, than in large ones). There is plenty of space for unskilled and semi-skilled people in small businesses in the UK - maybe not 5 million, but I'd say well over a million.

  • Comment number 45.

    26. At 11:26am on 27 May 2010, budsmum wrote:

    my son is a manager of a cleaning company and has been looking for someone to work from 5am to 8am 6 days a week so far all the people hes interview have tried to negoiate the hours saying 5am too early.they just dont want to get out of bed in the mornings they only go to the interview because the jobcentre tell them to.many hours have been wasted interviewing people who dont want the job anyway.

    ----------------------------------

    Sounds ncie and easy that.

  • Comment number 46.

    The biggest causes of people ending up on benefits are:
    Importing labour despite there not being a labour shortage for over 30 years.
    A total lack of understanding that making things creates wealth not shuffling imaginary money around. (Even communists fiqured this out)
    Solve those two and the benefits problem solves itself

  • Comment number 47.

    I would just like to state my disbelief at the ignorant people above who think its easy to be unemployed, especially those who think unemployment is a career.

    Being unemployed is hell, and you Daily Fail readers need to wake up and realise that the majority of people are not like those fringe cases you hear about.

    Who would work for a fiver a week more? I would. An extra fiver a week would mean I could get a pair of cheap jeans so I didn't have to wear these old tatty ones anymore. A fiver a week would mean I could go to more places, instead of being cut off from people all day.

    Its not the welfare system that needs reform, its the country. We need to encourage new businesses with tax breaks, especially in the countryside and hard hit areas like mine. We need more training, apprentice schemes, and work experience programs. We need more jobs.

    If any of you high-and-mighty Daily Fail readers fancy a swap, I'd love to have your job. I'd also like to see how long you can cope with reality before you're begging to swap back again. You people disgust me.

  • Comment number 48.

    "Can anyone tell me what will happen to thousands more unemployed people, After job cuts by the new government who must now live on £63.50 a week J.S.A. single rate, this will not be enough, to pay The rent council tax any increase bills, in the pipeline or buy food with 20% v.a.t. Where are all the new jobs? coming from for all the long term sick and long term unempolyed ? Where are all the min wage jobs, and where are all the skilled jobs? in LaLA land.

  • Comment number 49.

    Yes reforms are needed. For most people the benefits are very low and barely enough to come around. I would even suggest to raise the base pension and unemployment benefit.
    BUT! However there are plenty of cases in which the benefits are too high. Having a job as a career mum should not be possible; having children is a choice not a job nor should it be possible that an unemployed family is living in a £4000pm mansion in the middle of Wimbledon village paid by housing benefits.
    We need a fairer system.

  • Comment number 50.

    I've worked in a jobcentre for decades and one thing I've learned in that time is never to judge people. No two people are the same. I could spend a lot of time quoting comment numbers from this thread and pointing out that they're giving you information that's factually incorrect [number two: those computers are blocked from doing things like that, so don't believe your mate for a second]. You all need to get some facts not just prejudices.

    And in those decades I keep hearing about tough new tests and the like. This is the same old soundbite as before. Is it really possible to develop a system that will satisfy all of the people all of the time?

  • Comment number 51.

    The main problem with the current system seems to be that it provides an incentive for a small section of the population to make a profession of having children. This in turn , leads to more children being born into poverty with the poor life chances that this entails. Middle class people tend to have small families (The famous 2.2 kids) because they have to pay for their children & Child Benefit is a drop in the ocean. I don't know what you do about this , but it is a serious problem. It may sound crazy , but perhaps the state could pay generous means tested Child Benefit for up to 2 children and then actually make deductions for further children. I don't want to penalise children for the folly and fecklessness of their parents , but we have to move away from a system where simply having more children entitles a person to a whole plethora of benefits at the expense of the more prudent and self-sufficient members of society.

  • Comment number 52.

    I appreciate that this will be a sensitive issue, as it directly affects the wellbeing of many. However...

    The welfare state is intended to be a safety net. What it has ended up as being is an entire lifestyle choice for large swathes of people. I am NOT in the 'national service, make'em work, scroungers' camp at all. But do feel that a radical, root and branch, review is needed. The Welfare State DOES cost too much. It IS NOT affordable. It IS creating several lost generations. It would take a remarkable amount of self-interest, and an equal lack of self-awareness, to think all was OK.

    Now whether this review will be conducted properly is a different challenge. Suspect no. LOTS of voters involved, none of whom will walk quietly into a world where less money is given away. Foresee major tussles...lots of alarmist headlines...and no clear outcomes...

    And, please, get rid of the word 'entitlement'. Why on earth are benefits an 'entitlement'? How was it earned?

  • Comment number 53.

    40. At 11:41am on 27 May 2010, spotthelemon wrote:

    And so make it harder for them to get a job, seriously looking for work is a full time job itself, better to make them attend job clubs where their work seeking skills can be improved or get them on some form of training to increase their work skills, which is more or less what happens now."

    The problem is that this is not what employers want. My business isn't in the state where we can recruit at the moment, but I recently had a CV through from a job seeker for a basic IT job. I wouldn't have employed him even if we were looking just because, as far as I could tell from his CV, he'd been sat around doing various training or job-seeking courses (and playing cricket) for the past 4 years. He hadn't actually DONE anything.

    I replied to his letter apologising that we couldn't take him on, and suggested that he DO something - even if it was helping out at a community centre or making a website for his cricket club or anything. Something to show he was willing and able to work, rather than just go to courses he had to go to.

    The 4 years unemployed (straight from school) wasn't the problem, it was that he hadn't DONE anything in those 4 years - doesn't bode well for his motivation.

  • Comment number 54.

    here we go maggies back in town, give the sick the lame and the poor a good kicking but squeel like a deprived pig over capital gains tax,when redwood made is tory values comment it should have made any decent man feel sick in the pit of ones stomach.alas theres not much of that about on theese listings.as for the perfomance of the beeb on its encounter on the couch with ids one had to sit and watch the sychophantic bile what passes for an interview on the workabiliity and fairness of such policys. pathetic!how those people sleep at night is behond me, from now on in i see the beeb as the tory party propaganda machine the whole corparation is a disgrace..

  • Comment number 55.

    I know of two very unfair cases one involving someone who left her partner to choose a life as a single Mum in a new build council house bigger then the house her partner had a mortgage on. She is very comfortable on her benefits, thank you very much. Another case involves my neighbour who was made redundant and was refused job seekers as she had savings, whilst the other side of the street we have a large family of immigrants driving two people carriers and living in newly refurbished flats, courtesy of us.

    These are the cases that our new government need to be looking at NOT the genuinally needy, some people simply cannot work through no fault of their own, I appreciate that.

    Also when I left school there were lots of options involving vocational training. learning a trade and apprentiships, not just university and expensive tuition fees, the government needs to think about that to ensure our young people don't just drift into a life on benefits.


  • Comment number 56.

    The benefit system needs to change so that nobody can be better off on the dole than working, and being able to afford the tremendous luxuries that many indulge in. These are the groups that need to be penalised. However, any reform would likely to be uniform across all claimants, so what needs to emerge is a system that penalises the lazy people but pays out enough to people who take pride in earning the money they spend and can support genuine job seekers so that they can pay their bills and taxes and buy food while they look for work so they're not making a net loss each month. In my experience when I was unemployed my JSA was woefully low so I couldnt afford to be unemployed for too long, the situation was getting desperate, but then I managed to find work after applying for half a dozen jobs a week and attending many interviews. It's this latter group that needs, and deserves, the support of the state.

  • Comment number 57.

    The welfare system should, in my opinion, be thus (or some sensible variation thereon):

    - a safety net for people who lose their job to allow them to survive while a new job is sought. To this end, I think that benefits payments should be structured such that over a two year period (say) payments are based on a percentage of average earnings over the most recent year (say), e.g. 75% for six months, 50% for twelve months, 25% for six months until such point as the person reaches the basic minimum. The basic should, of course, never be more than a minimum wage job after tax is taken into account.

    - unavailable to people who have never worked in any capacity UNLESS they are completely incapable of work due to severe disability or illness

    - payable only to those who complete a certain number of hours of community work or volunteering. Sitting idle for an extended period is beneficial to nobody, least of all the person prohibited from doing anything lest their benefits be cut. Additionally, I believe there is only a tiny number of people who cannot work in any capacity at all and provisions should be made such that everybody can contribute something. Volunteering or helping in the community would give people a sense of ownership, skills (some of which would surely be transferrable), motivation and purpose.

    - structured such that the child should NEVER suffer in any way. To this end, I believe child benefit should be paid in vouchers redeemable only against child specific things (e.g. clothing, toys, play groups, sports and arts activities).

    I also believe there's a merit in having a "credits" system whereby credits are allocated as opposed to cash which are redeemable against necessities but not luxuries. Luxuries are earned; they are not an entitlement.

    Bring on the criticism!

  • Comment number 58.

    29. At 11:30am on 27 May 2010, SaveourCountry wrote:

    My Dad always had a saying "you get so much more from working than just money!" I never understood it as a youngster but now in my early 40 ys realise how right he is.

    -----------------------------------

    For most its only stress and hassle. If you are lucky enough to know what you want to do, lucky enough to afford the minimum education/experience requirements and then lucky enough to get the job you want. That is when you can be satisfied in your work.

    I would love to see schemes which put children to work in a whole variety of skilled and unskilled jobs as a taster to what options are available. Work experience is a joke if you dont know what you want to do. I have found things I would love to do which are pretty specialist and I even now have no idea how to get into. I am however lucky in doing a job I do enjoy and challanges me..

    Believe me there is nothing worse than an unskilled job you dont like. It is soul destroying yet I needed the money. It is understandable why people wouldnt want to do them with benefits as an alternative.

  • Comment number 59.

    Is fiddling around with benefits rules and systems an easy way out for a politican, that it is harder to approach it from the other side, i.e. that jobs exist, that training exists, that opportunity exists for entrepreneurial efforts, that jobs provide sufficient financial renumeration in relation to basic household outgoings, that jobs are personally rewarding, that jobs are not counter-productive to the greater good? Can everyone compete in a more technologically advanced and knowledge-based economy? Is it wrong that people don't want to pick your vegetables for you? No, let's fiddle with the benefits system again. He wasn't a strong Tory leader was he. Yes it's true I mostly have little faith in Tories, but my points seem reasonable. I see the stepping-stones point though, and I don't doubt some people can be helped and perhaps ought to be. I also think there are also disaffection issues at work in some claimants, lack of self confidence, drug addictions, bereavements and traumas, genuine confusion, many things. I could dismiss this as the headlines-work some politicians put in, but things do happen afterwards that do matter. It costs serious money and takes a lot of real effort to tackle such problems; investors don't tend to invest in helping drug addicts (unless there's money to be made out of their life insurance or something). Some people just don't cope so well with office politics and things either, and it's not so easy for them always to just suddenly find their dream job within the next two weeks, are they bad people? Some really creative types of work are not encouraged by the current economic model I believe incidentally. I knew a person once who searched for what he wasn't quite sure then he died.

  • Comment number 60.

    The welfare system needs a total overhaul, it should never be more profitable to stay at home than go to work. Benefits shouldn't be paid for cars, mobile phones, televisions, designer gear and holidays. It should be a safety net to avoid you starving and enough to keep a roof over your head. If you got our own people off the dole you have a legitimate argument to halt immigration total, if there's no jobs here, there's no point in coming over here. I find it very disheartening that after working all my life, I won't be any better off than someone that hasn't done a tap all there life. What happens to a professional doley when they reach 65? do you say to them sorry, you haven't worked all your life no pension, no, they get money out of another pot, so they're no less disadvantaged than me. As a nation (particularly under labour) we seem to think it's O.K. to keep paying people for doing nothing whilst it's those that work who are the one's paying for them, it's totally wrong. Also, why do we throw money at brat breeders, if you can't afford the upkeep of a child you shouldn't have any until you can afford them. It's nobody's right to have children and expect other people to pay for them. I've seen the doley's in action, down to the post office on pay-out day, partner with a child in a pram others clinging on to her. Partner draws the money, he takes a fistful of it then he's down to the pub. I bet most people reading this will have seen just that and it's not right, it insults the people that work and struggle to survive. It was always said that the average family was 2.4 children, so why isn't it made law that the child benefit stops after two children?

  • Comment number 61.

    We need labour intensive industries which can absorb the unemployed. In the 1980s the thought of 1.5 million unemployed was considered a national disaster but today it is accepted as normal.

    We don't need benefit cuts we need jobs.

  • Comment number 62.

    I accept that there are some people who are basically inadequate and would not be able to hold down a job. This would include those with various learning difficulties and mental health problems as well as some chronic health conditions. However as a housing officer I was always amazed at the number of perfectly fit able-bodied young men and women who managed to be permanently on JSA. They were not unintelligent but most simply couldn't be bothered to make the effort to get out of bed every morning and go to work day in day out like the rest of us. If they got a job it was short lived because few employers are going to keep an an employee who is persistently late or absent because they were drinking or taking drugs the night before or simply lacked the discipline to turn the TV or X-box off and go to bed at a reasonable time.

    The other problem is fit, able-bodied young women (and in some cases men and women) who not only don't want to work but think it is acceptable to raise families at the expense of the taxpayer.
    If someone doesn't want to work, fine. Give them food vouchers, hostel accommodation and a new set of clothes once a year. But we can't afford to provide 3bed houses, medical care, education, educational psychology, social services, clothes, food and everything else a family requires for people who are not contributing anything to the economy. If we weren't paying for so many unemployed families there would be more money to support those who genuinely can't work and support themselves.

    In addition, a lot of the children from these non-working families tend to grow up with various social or psychological problems, learning difficulties including ADHD. A number of them become the next generation of people who are inadequate or lack the work ethic and motivation required to settle down to a life of work.

  • Comment number 63.

    32. At 11:31am on 27 May 2010, JohnH wrote:
    5. PaganView wrote:
    John H wrote: If you were on benefits (not a princly sum, never mind what the daily mail says) would you work for 40 hours each week for £10 more?

    Your attitude is one of the reasons this country is now in the dumps.

    It doesn't matter that it's only £10 per week extra, you should have a sense of self pride where you would want to work, instead of accepting handouts.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Then I will ask the question again, would you swallow your pride and work 40 hrs a week for £10 more than you would get on benefits?

    Answer truthfully now!

    And do not insult our intelligence.

    ______________________________________________________________________

    Yes I genuinely would. It's a question of moral standards - I expect to support myself not have other do it for me.

  • Comment number 64.

    The whole benefits system needs to be rewritten from scratch as it is over-complex, hard to use, easy to defraud and based on convoluted 'entitlements' rather than on actual need.

    I propose a simple scheme whereby anyone not working for whatever reason (age, illness, caring responsibilities, cannot find work) receives a single weekly payment sufficient for basic living costs to be met - rent, council tax, food, bus pass, utilities. No complexities of additional payments like housing benefit, one sum sufficient to meet all requirements. It is supposed to be a safety net not a lifestyle, after all.

    If you want more, work. But you will be able to survive until you find a job if you want one. And when you get one, there is no trap of other payments disappearing; nor do you have the case of some poor souls who cannot cope with budgeting their wages as they have become accustomed to various things that most of us pay for coming 'free' as part of the benefits package.

  • Comment number 65.

    I work full-time occasionally 77 a weeks, how come my neighbours who have never worked can afford sky TV three holidays a year, out almost every night of the week. there are 14 houses in the block where I live only 3 work, therefore only three pay full council tax, rent etc. It is a bout time the benefit system did have a radical shake up, and get all though who DO NOT WANT to work doing something to earn their benefits. Those that are genuinely ill deserve their benefits, it those that are S****ing the system that need to be targeted.

  • Comment number 66.

    33. At 11:32am on 27 May 2010, Dan Cochran wrote:

    The better solution is to offer these people a real chance to do real jobs that pay a living wage and they will enjoy getting up for in the mornings. Such positions are hard to gain in this country if you’re an unskilled worker (which I can imagine many long term jobseekers claimants might be.) Do to this you need business on board, and demonstrating their willingness to:

    a) Employ these people
    b) Pay them a living wage.

    ************************
    I would argue that we DO employ these people inasmuch as we pay them to do nothing all day everyday (the difference being those of us working are paid to do something all day). For that money we should expect something in return other than hordes of unwanted, too often feral, children (for which we pay them even more money).

    Maybe there should be an acceptance that almost EVERYONE who claims benefits can, and should, do something in return for the country that provides their food, housing, healthcare, education etc. End the culture of something for nothing.

    I accept that those who are severely disabled should be exempt but most could do something. I think it would have the benefits of making people feel worthy and give them back a sense of pride. We live in a filthy, dirty country where much simple maintenance of public areas can't be afforded because of the money spent on benefits - it wouldn't take much money to vastly improve our surroundings AND give people a pride in themselves and their surroundings.

    And please don't tell me this would take work from other people - it wouldn't because simply this work isn't done anymore. Nobody can afford to have this work done. One or two days work each week from each claimant would improve this country immeasurably and still give people time to search for jobs...simples!

  • Comment number 67.

    Oh Hum - The mystic preachers are at it again!

    The intention to make 'welfare' work better by punishing those not 'willing' to work!!!!!!!

    How does this achieve its aims of creating 5m jobs?

    How does this pronouncement of 'welfare to work' make meaningful employment for FIVE MILLION human beings?

    And so the mystic preachers of the doctrine of sacrifice, these new flavour mystic babblers, will magically provide work by forcing the unemployed off benefits and into destitution, despair and more poverty!

    Genuinely I am puzzled by the mystics of materialism - its a better future they profess to design by wishes, but what of the present and the past?

    Cause and effect is the problem and the issue! Not delusional wishes and desires for a perfect manifestation of their own delusional belief system.

    Their mystics pronouncements attack an 'effect' but fail to even mention the 'causes'!

    An irrational wish or desire to 'create' welfare to work and punishment for the 'undeserving' will never produce jobs will it?

    Oh how our 'servant' Masters leap blindly down the rabbit holes of faith and their particular flavour of deluded belief systems without any regard to the actual real consequences of withdrawing a subsistence level of material well-being! Oh for the consequences of a irrational idea!

    Make them starve and hey presto - magic will make them work in non existent jobs......Or maybe one wave of our mystic freimanite wand and we will have 5m jobs and the unemployed will all march off to work like happy little children!

    HoHoHo how we all laugh at this irrational world of illusion and delusional dreamers!

  • Comment number 68.

    1. At 11:00am on 27 May 2010, JohnH wrote:

    Where are the jobs going to come from?

    How many employers are crying out for unqualified, inexperienced workers with dubious health problems?

    If you were on benefits (not a princly sum, never mind what the daily mail says) would you work for 40 hours each week for £10 more?
    '''''''''''''''''''''''''''

    Well, they're certainly not going to be handed out, as your comment seems to demand!

    You're right of course, that there needs to be clear water between what can be claimed on benefits and what can be earned by working.
    Given that there are still benefits to be given for those on a basic wage, the difference comes from the pride that comes with a job.
    Having a job also gains you in other areas - and any employer who has any sense will be prepared to train you, and many qualifications can be gained as you go.


  • Comment number 69.

    Could the large charities such as National Trust, Age UK and Ramblers etc not be contacted to come up with projects that would benefit the community - if the unemployed were then required to work for the number of hours benefit they receive (including housing benefit etc) divided by the minimum wage that would create a potential of at least 10 million man hours per week that could be used to improve individuals lives or improve the environment and the unemployed would be gaining work skills such as team working etc. If the charities were then able to raise more money from donations they could then hire skilled staff in the usual way to carry out more complex work and possibly help the economy to grow.

  • Comment number 70.

    There are currently about 15% of 60 million people being finacially supported by the government (unemployed/incapacity/pensioners). Our population is growing older, but as more working people retire and their jobs are taken up by the unemployed this number is not likely to change.

    So the government wants to do something about it, but to what purpose?

    Is it to increase the numbers in work, so making the country richer?

    Is it to reduce the drain on the public purse so that money can be spent on other things (e.g. tax cuts)?

    Is it to satisfy the opinion of those fortunately in employment who 'know of' or more likely 'read about' someone who seems to have a very good standard of living on benefits?

    But most of all is it because employers are crying out for workers, who are prepared to work for the wonderful wages and conditions they have on offer?

    Depending on the newspapers you read, the politicians you vote for, or just your own personal circumstances, you will decide which of the above apply.

    One thing is for certain, looking back over the last thirty years, all the efforts of politicians to reduce the numbers is unlikely to succeed.

  • Comment number 71.

    Iain Duncan Smith was on bbc breakfast news this morning saying that the Labour government put people on incapacity benefit and left them there with no follow up assessments etc.

    From my own experience I can say what he claimed is untrue and members of the government should state the facts instead of stirring up discrimination against people who unfortunately find themselves having to claim Employment and Support Allowance as it is now called.

    During the short time I was on this benefit I attended two medicals and I regularly met a personal adviser at my local job centre so I definitely did not feel I was put on benefit and left!

    I am very interested in what the con-dems do to get people back to work when there are no jobs for them to go to anyway and the government have already admitted that jobs will be going in the £6bn savings by not being refilled!

  • Comment number 72.

    There's a lot of money being invested in changing the benefit system.

    I do agree with encouraging more training and allowing those who want to work to get the skills they need (how many employers want someone already qualified and are unwilling to train?).

    However, I wondered whether this money would be better invested in keeping more work in Britain (saving the car manufacturers, Cadburys etc) and creating more jobs? There needs to be the jobs there once people have the skills.

  • Comment number 73.

    Unfortunately there seems to be three elements to the welfare system.

    1- Claimants living with parents, and not paying anything towards their 'keep'

    2- Claimants who know every penny they can claim, to have a greater income. More children, Renting their home and not paying the rent, after the 'bond' money and the first month rent is paid to the landlord and they know that it will take the landlord four months to get them out - a nice little earner an extra £400-00 a month to enjoy life with, £1600-00 minimum.

    3- I blame the system, as a claimant with a mortgage is deemed too irresponsible to pay their housing benefit over to the company, the DSS/WWP pay approx. 2/3 of the interest (no capital) and the claimant has to find the 1/3 shortfall and the money for the life insurance policy which the mortgage company demands they have. That is why most claimants with a mortgage find a job quickly or are forced into selling their house below market value, because, the mortgage company will pursue for re-proccession (it's a nice little earner for them) to make things worse they are then 'hounded' for the next 12 years for the shortfall. This situation breaks most marriages/partnerships and the trauma to the family is horrendous, to avoid this, one of them will commit suicide and the mortgage is paid off if the policy has been in place for a minimum of two years and has suicide protection. If this is not an option, system only houses the woman and children and not the husband/partner as they have 'deliberately made themselves homeless'.

    Great Welfare State when there are two levels of benefit claimants and neither are fair.

  • Comment number 74.

    63. At 12:12pm on 27 May 2010, PH73 wrote:
    "-------------------------------------------------------------------
    Then I will ask the question again, would you swallow your pride and work 40 hrs a week for £10 more than you would get on benefits?

    Answer truthfully now!

    And do not insult our intelligence.

    ______________________________________________________________________

    Yes I genuinely would. It's a question of moral standards - I expect to support myself not have other do it for me. "

    --------------------------

    you would be one of the very few if that was the case. Most people wouldnt. It is natural not to make life harder than it needs to be.

  • Comment number 75.

    Here we go. Tory philosophy well used by the previous labour government now in use again. Create unemployment to solve alleged ecnomic problems. Then blame the unemployed as they cost to much to maintain. Anyone heard of Swift's 'Modest proposal'? Same ideas that he was attacking in his satire.

  • Comment number 76.

    The logic of our political elites is staggering - Obviously, the intention must be to manufacture millions of jobs in the 'preparing the unemployed for work' industry! Its quite a stroke of genius really - we can have half the population engaged in 'government sponsored' training companies 'preparing' the other half of the population for all those non existent 'employment opportunities' out there! Now if only, we could have a seriously under educated population produced by our education system which would then necessitate more and more need for 'life long learning' we will have solved all our problems! Oh yes 'free schools' is the answer to that particular element of the grand plan. The government can just keep everyone either undertaking 'training' or providing the 'training' - Mmmmmmm

  • Comment number 77.

    when i was a child, the child allowance was if you had three children you would only get it for the first two, this led my parent to having to foster out my oldest brother.

    my mother would go to the local shop and feed on the kindness of credit given by the shopkeeper.

    my father worked 7 days and had to steel coal from the local pit to heat the house, cook, and hotwater, the local bobby always turned a blind eye.



    now and them we were presented with the luxuery of an apple or orange.

    clothing was supplied by family and neighbours as were food parcels.

    put this in the present day.


    can you look after john for a few month, answer no go to social services.
    please mr supermarket can i have my weekly food on credit, answer get out of hear.
    fiddling you gas or electric, answer criminal record a fine or prison.
    can you give me some food the children are hungry, answer no, i have enough problem feeding my own.

    this was just 40 years ago let me tell you now it was no joke, it was dam hard, my brother never forgave my parents and remains estranged.


    children must be provided for family life must be preseved and supported.

    do not let this government taper away your right to tax credits, which is part of the welfare reform.

    knowone has to sit back and just take what they present to you, do somthing about it after all this coaltion says they will listen so shout and maybe they will hear.

    as for ian duncan smith attack on those on ib/esa.

    mr smith says, if you are on sickness benefits for more than 2 years you are more likely to die on it, yes that could possibly be true, its because they are ill mr smith thats why they are dying.

    mr smith backs esa medical assessment which has been condemed by cab, macmillian, gp, consultants, parkinsons association, ms, mind, ect, the governments own social security advisory committee, secretary of state for scotland, douglas alexander and even by proffessor paul gregg who help set up the system.

    yet mr smith has this morning defended the system, which has been labeled "unfit for purpose" and calls for independant review of the entire system have gone unheeded.

    i say to mr smith and the government if the system is working well why are you afraid of an independant review

  • Comment number 78.

    It's easy to lump everyone "on benefits" into one homogenous mass but for every malingerer there is someone genuinely disabled, for every scrounger there is a carer looking after a disabled person for 50+ hours per week. The problem is that a "tougher regime" hits the genuine as well, and often much harder than the professional scroungers. Contrary to popular belief benefits are not easy to obtain; disability, for example, faces stringent and rigorous tests that some genuinely disabled people find so humiliating they refuse to ask for help not least because at every stage you're treated as a likely cheat. Nor are the payments generous; as carer for my disabled mother I receive no help whatever other than £53 a week, for a minimum of 35 hours. The benefit is at best about one fifth of the minimum wage, it's means tested and taxed - yet carers save an estimated £87 billion pounds a year in professional care. More than the entire NHS budget. Moves to simplify the welfare system and reduce the penalties for positive behavior like saving are to be welcomed; at the moment the system is labyrinthine in the extreme and automatically punishes the prudent and diligent whilst rewarding the feckless. But we should not fall into the trap of regarding all claimants as workshy thieves.

  • Comment number 79.

    Yes, it does.

    In addition though they need to look into claimants having their benefits stopped but being notified of this a week later, despite having a valid medical certificate.

    Although this can be appealed, and payments will be reinstated and backdated, anyone on basic benefits who has incurred unauthorised overdraft fees will not be able to repay them.

    When people had their benefits stopped I had always wondered what they had been up to. Now I have experienced it myself.

    It is discourteous and unnecessary. It is also policy to send out letters dated after the event.

    Of course some people are claiming who should not. But assistance is supposed to be there for those who need it, and many of those (me, anyway) will have contributed for years through NICs in case of such an eventuality.

  • Comment number 80.

    "62. At 12:09pm on 27 May 2010, Virtualvalkyrie wrote:
    I accept that there are some people who are basically inadequate and would not be able to hold down a job. This would include those with various learning difficulties and mental health problems as well as some chronic health conditions."

    Excuse me - NO ONE is basically inadequate. Particularly not those you list.

  • Comment number 81.

    Of course it needs reform, there are FAR too many people sponging off the state, that quite clearly CAN work, but don't want to for "£10 more a week". These people should be forced into work, they don't work, they just get bread tokens.

    No more should the working population prop up those that can't be bothered to get a job because their expectation is to walk into a management position with a company car rather than flipping burgers.

  • Comment number 82.

    Working in vacancy processing, I've been seeing a lot of the recent changes in welfare to work schemes that keep being cooked up, along with the various people that it effects.

    Workfare of course (Work for you Benefits) is one that keeps popping up, certainly proposed by both Labour and the Conservatives, and probably backed by countless others. Doing Community Service like the such that criminals do in return for 'training allowance' (therefore conveniently removing people from the unemployed register, ho hum) at the same rate of jobseekers. Yes, £50-60 a week for 40 hours of work - yes that is £1.25-1.50 an hour. Jobseekers also able to be sent to other private companies for a profit, so essentially selling them to private companies. Why pay someone to process your reports when you can just get someone off the dole for free?

    The government's own studies into workfare schemes in America even showed that this was the most ineffective method of helping people get back into work. It leaves the unemployed with less time to look for or apply for work, and if you do not turn up (even for an interview) you could get up to a six month sanction. There are also those, through ill health, who are physically unable to manage 40 hours of work a week. I myself cannot manage more than 35 a week due to my disability, I work with people who cannot manage more than 25. If one of these people were put onto workfare schemes, would they be sanctioned for collapsing partway through the week because they cannot physically handle the hours? Apparently, one of those who uses a day centre run by my company, was told by her DEA that if she did collapse through her forced labour then she would be sanctioned for non-compliance.

  • Comment number 83.

    50. At 11:55am on 27 May 2010, paul tapner wrote:

    ...[number two: those computers are blocked from doing things like that, so don't believe your mate for a second]...

    My son has recently started a training course, it took him 2 minutes to bypass the "blocks" on their computers so he could access facebook.

    He then showed their IT people how he did it so it could be locked down properly!

  • Comment number 84.

    61. At 12:07pm on 27 May 2010, mjnewbury wrote:

    We need labour intensive industries which can absorb the unemployed. In the 1980s the thought of 1.5 million unemployed was considered a national disaster but today it is accepted as normal.

    We don't need benefit cuts we need jobs."

    So, we need to cut the minimum wage drastically (eg to about £2/hr)... That's the ONLY way to get labour intensive industries back into the UK. We also need to cut benefits back to virtually nothing, otherwise no one will work in these new industries.

    However, I'm pretty sure that's not what you meant.

  • Comment number 85.

    Simplify the benefit system. Easy - No work = No Income - Job done.

  • Comment number 86.

    We should reduce the amount of benefit lifestyles available by ~10% every year. The numbers wanting a benefit lifestyle could compete for places via some kind of exciting and deadly "Running Man" type game show, for the entertainment of 'real people' who work.

    Of course the reason that labour made benefits more lucrative than a job was to butter up their core vote and increase the size of it. Their immigration free for all was also motivated by this.

    I despise the labour party.

  • Comment number 87.

    If you think that the Con-Lib Coalition are going to make it a better option to work rather than be on benefits then forget it. They opposed the minimum wage and their laissez-faire attitude won't help train people to get the skills both they, and the economy, need. At best you will get people doing work for charities for an extra tenner a week.

    What we will have is a million or so more people on the dole and more money in the pockets of the rich. It's true that the rich got richer under Labour but then so did those who were prepared to work - I was one of them.

    Enjoy the next 5 years!

  • Comment number 88.

    I am all for getting benefit claimants back working. I know far too many people who flaunt the system.

    However, if as many people suggest that the minimum wage increases, then what impact will this have on those working in the public sector, and financed by the taxpayer (and I'm not saying public servants don't pay tax and are wholly sponsored by the private sector)?

    However, if the minimum wage was raised to a level that would be higher than benefits. If after tax they should be taking home £200, so that they don't 'loose out', then this equates to an annual salary of £13,000, an hourly rate of £6.67, when compared to the current £5.80 - an increase of 15%. This increase costs for essential services like the NHS etc.

    When the Government is cutting spending everywhere (despite what they lead us to believe) - how will a rise in minimum wage be funded??

    Surely - Financial Managers will cut jobs to cover this, which puts more people on the dole queue.

    Also, when the private industry is currently suffering, how will a rise in minimum wage be managed in foodstores etc? The cost of living will increase, and even more demands for minimum wage increases. It seems that this is a vicious circle!

    As for benefit thieves - they are always going to be there, and they cannot be managed, controlled or persuaded to return to work because life is easy, and there's no need to change that

  • Comment number 89.

    '19. At 11:22am on 27 May 2010, djangoman wrote:
    Yes there should be changes all benefit amounts should cut down to a just survive rate not over the top like they are now'

    The current rates of JobSeeker's Allowance is barely over £50 a week for under 25s and £60 a week for over 25s. The poverty line for a single person without rent (living in a parent's home for example) is £112 a week and a single person with rent it is £145 a week. Benefits are in some cases less than half the poverty line, so people on them are barely surviving as it is.

  • Comment number 90.

    We're in a recession. Public spending is going to be cut. What jobs are these people going to do ? The only realistic ones available will be part-time. If they cannot 'live' on that wage then they'll turn to the black economy to make up the difference.

    Let's look forward to the crime and tax avoidance rates rising shall we ?

    Human nature - it always finds a loophole.

  • Comment number 91.

    The government seems to be concerned only about state benefits that mean people can be better off not working. But a very important factor is Housing Benefit - which is channelled through local authorities, rather than the DWP. When I accepted a low-paid job some years ago, I was significantly worse off as a result of having to pay rent and council tax, which had been covered by Housing Benefit while I was unemployed - in fact, Housing Benefit had amounted to far more than I received in state benefits, and it stopped completely as soon as I started work.
    Until there's a single joined-up system including both state benefits and Housing Benefit, many people will continue to feel they are better off not working.

  • Comment number 92.

    About time too.

    The only people who should be worried are benefits scroungers who put nothing into society and scrounge off those of us who pay taxes.

    When you have a benefits system that allows people to be financially better off on benefits than work then something is seriously wrong.

    And I hope that the incapacity benefits gravy train is sorted out first.

    Labour spent 13 years keeping people unemployed and on benefits for life - a ploy to buy votes. Hopefully, the new government will force those who milk the benefits system to work.

  • Comment number 93.

    66. At 12:14pm on 27 May 2010, cd8jbr wrote:

    And please don't tell me this would take work from other people - it wouldn't because simply this work isn't done anymore. Nobody can afford to have this work done. One or two days work each week from each claimant would improve this country immeasurably and still give people time to search for jobs...simples!"

    It's actually an almost zero cost solution to many of the issues.

    All you do is NOT give anyone (unless severely disabled) any benefits at all, but give them so many hours a week to work at minimum wage to make it up to the point where they earn as much as their benefits would have been.

    It stops benefits being the 'easy option', gets jobs done that no one can afford any more, and can give the people more sense of self-worth, and make them more employable as well.

  • Comment number 94.

    I find it disingenuous for a a conservative government, lead by a man who has never had to work a day in his life and has nothing but privilege and opportunity heaped upon him, to dictate to the most disadvantage. Many of whom are only in that situation because of the actions of previous conservative government. We are merely reaping the damaging social costs of what Thatcher sowed.

  • Comment number 95.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 96.

    A hand up, not a hand out.

  • Comment number 97.

    I do love the simple, almost child-like logic that most here are putting across.

    "Stop paying them benefits and they will get a job".

    So, you honestly think that people who come from families of 3rd and 4th generation "benefit scroungers" are simply going to start doing that?

    Well unemployment might decrease but expect to see a sharp rise in street thefts, burglaries, drug-dealing, armed robberies and expect to pay out more to build more prisons.



    So can we have less ill-conceived rhetoric and more common sense please!

  • Comment number 98.

    Oh dear, looks like my brother will have to go in front of a board again. He was injured during army service and is now classed as 80% disabled, with limited use of his right leg, left hand and various internal injuries that will never heal. However after trying to claim disability/incapacity for over 2 years he was eventually told that as an ex-serviceman he would have to claim from the veterans agency, but he still needed to be assessed in order that his National Insurance contributions were made. The doctor who initially assessed him had access to his medical records but still the only issue he could report is that he walked with 'a peculiar gait'. So would you if you had a third of your pelvis missing.

    Unfortunately it will be people like my brother who will be once again humiliated by incompetent doctors, to satisfy the blood lust of those who think everybody on benefits is a scrounger.

  • Comment number 99.

    now now now, the benefits system is to Britain what the health service is, open to everyone and is there to protect and help us. There but for the gracer of god go I is the principle and those lucky enough to have a job should be grateful for that and not too cocky because one you hit that slippery slope of unemployment or illness it is not long before you hit the bottom. I would like to propose that although I am in favour of freedom on speech that calling people benefit scroungers should be hit on the head. Try it see if you like it.

  • Comment number 100.

    As someone who experienced unemployment for a few months, I would most definitely have to say that the system is in need of reform.

    Although I had been working full time for several years, the job centre's first reaction to me new circumstances seemed to be an automatic refusal to access to jobseekers allowance. This was, obviously, devastating. Was all that NI I had paid over the years for nothing?

    Only after getting the wonderful Glenda Jackson involved was this sorted.

    Then there were the staff, who obvisouly weren't used to people actually trying to find their way back into work. Their ability to match my skills to available work was, at times, insulting.

    With this announcement I can only see such occurrences worsening. People who have built up useful skills over many years will be forced to work in their nearest fast food outlet. Good luck to them and our economy should they find themselves out of work.

 

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