Austerity ~ Lite …?

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As regular readers of this blog will know Keith has spoken ourt many times about Welfare Reform & Sanctions.

Keiths work for University of Edge Hill along with others is due to be published shortly.It should prove intresting reading. Keith is quite right to say we are aware of the problems the VITAL question is what do we DO next ?

” Austerity ~ Lite …? ”

“The “better off on benefits than in work” claim is a complete fallacy- where’s the evidence? ” The real issue for the government is not making work pay, but making work exist, said the PCS union’s Mark Serwotka in The New Statesman recently,[1].

Despite Adzuna ranking Rochdale as being amongst the fourth worst places in the UK for job competition , with an average of 11 people chasing every job, the brutal new ‘Sanctions Regime’ and the roll back of the Welfare State is biting deep here in Rochdale .

People can read the latest DWP statistics for sanctioned claimants in our townships at :

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/jobseekers-allowance-and-employment-and-support-allowance-sanctions-decisions-made-to-december-2013

The latest figures made available to the Public are for the period 22 October 2012 until 31 December 2013.

These show 4,078 people had sanctions imposed during this time at Rochdale Job Centre , Fleece Street , 40 % of these people were sanctioned without being told why the sanction was imposed by DWP staff.

Heywood, Taylor Street – 972

Oldham, Tweedale House – 6,605

Rochdale , Fleece Street – 4,078

Manchester, Middleton – 1,483

In the Greater Manchester Area , the Manchester East & West area had 24,072 ‘adverse’ sanctions.

Of these the majority by far were in the 18-24 year age group in total 246,592 individuals. With 91,603 in the 25-29 year age group.

Most worryingly of all across the whole of the UK there were 49,827 disabled people , [2] ,who were sanctioned by the DWP.

The long term consequences of existing stricter sanctions regimes in countries where it has already been trailed such as Australia and the United States can be read in the report Sanctions within Conditional
Benefit Systems – A Review of Evidence , Julia Griggs & Martin Evans ,
2010.

” A small proportion of respondents felt that the hardship caused by sanctions created a situation where crime became the only response -stealing either food or saleable goods” [3].

Others were forced into the hands of Loan Sharks or illegal Money Lenders with all the attendant problems of going down that route.

The New Zealand experience of tougher benefit regimes can also be found in the report Benefit Sanctions: children – not seen, not heard , by the Child Poverty Action Group in New Zealand, which
found that tougher benefits regimes had within them the potential to make the situation worse rather than better :

” In 2013 [ Wynd, 2013] CPAG suggested the sanctions regime had the potential to create an invisible underclass of children ” [4].

The experience of tougher sanctions regimes elsewhere in the worlds
have not been monumental successes. The UK model looks set to repeat
the same mistakes and mirror the same negative results. As well as
breaking down the relationships between DWP staff and benefit
claimants.

The PCS Unions own website the union that many DWP workers belong has
repeatedly said :

” The government needs to take responsibility and control of the chaos
in the welfare system.

This means that the healthcare contract, recently relinquished by
Atos, should be brought back in-house to DWP, along with staff, so
that there is direct accountability and management.

This would also stop another private company taking over the contract
and repeating the same mistakes made by Atos that had such devastating
consequences on the lives of so many disabled people.” [5].

The PCS Union believes that :
“Welfare isn’t about ‘strivers’ vs ‘scroungers'”.

Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions & the
Coalition Government need to take full responsibility for the
suffering and chaos that has ensued as a result of the welfare
reforms, by taking control by in-house delivery.
We already have G4S Security ,a private company ,providing security in
Job Centres.

An American IT company providing the $1 BILLION dollar IT
infrastructure system for the Universal Jobs match site which is so
bedevilled with glitches, errors, programming that claimants often
can’t even log in to it’s online ” Jobs Search ” site.

And a French company Atos which has just been unceremoniously removed
due to numerous well publicised issues surrounding their processing
and their controversial Work Test Assessments.

Despite the hype having private companies involved in the Welfare
State has been an unmitigated disaster.

The PCS Union has accused the Tory led Government of launching the
biggest attack on the welfare state for generations:

” Life on benefits is far from easy. Since the link between benefits
and earnings was ended under the Thatcher government the level of
benefits has fallen from 20% of average waged income to only 10%. Job
Seeker’s Allowance for someone under 25 is now only £56.25.” [6].

I’ve sent in a Freedom of Information Request to ask what the figures
are from 31 December 2013 to the present day .It is an absolute
certainty that they will be higher than the DWP statistic for 22.X.13
/ 31.XII.13 figures.

Yes it’s bad now , very bad for many, But make no mistake when
Universal Credit is rolled out to all Job Centres in the North West –
Including Rochdale – by the end of this year it’s going to get much
worse.

Austerity is not working the UK deficit in 2014 is double what it was
in 2010. It has failed we are getting all of the pain and non of the
gain. Scapegoating the poor and vulnerable majority & collectively
punishing them for the mistakes and greed of a minority wealthy
banking elite and political class is an unsustainable and a morally
corrupt ‘solution’.

We need a new Government and a radicallly diffrent solution – not just
a “Austerity~ Lite ” version of Tory policies from One Nation Labour
after the 2015 General Election.

APPENDIX:

[1].”The “better off on benefits than in work” claim is a complete
fallacy – where’s the evidence? ” – New Statesman, 29.IV.13
Please see:

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/04/better-benefits-work-claim-complete-fallacy-wheres-evidence

[2]. Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance
sanctions: decisions made to December 2013 – updated 27 May 2014

[3].(Eardley et al.,2005; Employment Service, 1999; Joyce et al.,2006;
O’Connor et al., 1999; Vincent, 1998). In Eardley et al.’s study of
sanctioned claimants in Australia ‘about one in six reported jumping
trains
or avoiding paying fares as a result’ (2005, p. xii).

[4]. Sanctions within Conditional Benefit Systems – A Review of
Evidence , Julia Griggs & Martin Evans, 2010 , please see link at :

http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/conditional-benefit-systems-full.pdf

[5] Benefit Sanctions: children – not seen, not heard
ISBN: 978-0-9941105-0-3 June 2014
Child Poverty Action Group Inc. PO Box 5611 Wellesley St Auckland
1141 New Zealand http://www.cpag.org.nz please see link at :
http://www.cpag.org.nz/assets/Backgrounders/140613%20Benefit%20Sanctions%20Report%20II%20June%202014.pdf

[6]. Please see :
http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/campaigns/national-campaigns/welfare-reform/index.cfm

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1 comment
  1. Good article Andrew we must get as much support as we can to fight back. Through welfare news service I have discovered that even if Iain Duncan Smith fails in a fresh attempt to prevent the Universal Credit report(s) from being released to the public, he still retains the power of ministerial veto. He is spending a great deal of public money to fight a court ruling which said he must release/publish the report(s) knowing that he will most likely veto/block it anyway. So much for the rule of law….

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