Posts Tagged ‘workfare’

Labour was right to abstain on workfare

27/03/2013, 10:00:17 AM

by Ann Sinnott

The workfare court ruling deemed unlawful the regulations governing JSA-sanctions imposed on claimants Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson and thus opened the door to repayment of lost benefits to 230,000 other sanctioned jobseekers, a total of £130m. In response, the government rapidly drew up an emergency bill to retrospectively make those same regulations lawful; a shocking and unprecedented Kafkaesque step that, when Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson take their case to the Supreme Court, may well be challenged under EU Human Rights legislation.

Labour’s decision to abstain from voting on the emergency bill left many non-plussed, induced rage in others and generated a frenzy of press and blogger coverage running over several days. It goes without saying that “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” is part of the Labour party’s DNA, so for Labour not to reject a Bill that will prevent the repayment of withheld JSA is counter-intuitive; but look closer.

Drafted by swift-acting machiavellian brains (judging by Vince Cables’s more than usually self-satisfied smile the next day, his among them), the bill was neatly packaged-up and calculated to cause maximum trouble for Labour.  It was effective and a stark display of the art of politics at its darkest.

The court not only ruled in favour of the two claimants but also removed from the DWP the right to impose sanctions, a power the department had held since 1911. The emergency bill will reinstate the DWP’s power of sanction. Labour supports fair and proportionate sanctions, though in the context of a guaranteed six-month minimum-waged job, so what better way to tie-in their support, tacit or otherwise?

If Labour had walked into the “Nos” lobby it would have been voting against its own policy. Bad enough, but just imagine the headlines and the everlasting government taunts: “Labour U-turn on sanctions for shirkers!”, “Labour lets skivers off the hook!”, “No need to work under Labour!”, and permutations thereof.

Some Labour critics have said, “Sod the headlines!” – but, with a largely right-wing press and public opinion still largely suckered by the government myth that Labour ran the country into the ground, headlines really do matter.


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Workfare: fair work with a clear benefit

01/03/2012, 08:00:37 AM

by Peter Watt

Once again Labour has discovered its self-destructive sense of self-righteousness. It seems that sometimes we really can’t help ourselves. This time the issue is workfare where some in the party seem determined to reinforce the image of Labour as the party of the workshy.

But let’s get real. We need to start being honest and stop sending mixed messages. We have said that we are in favour of supporting people into work and of investing in supporting the long-term unemployed. We have said that we support reforming the welfare system so that welfare is not a lifestyle choice. And we have said that we must support hard working families who are struggling as costs go up. But then we go and spoil it by seeming to take pleasure in attacking companies who agree to take on the unemployed as part of a package of back to work support.

But “hang on”, I hear you say. Of course we oppose workfare. It makes people work for nothing. It compels people to work against their will. It allows bloated profit makers to exploit poor people as they don’t have to pay them for their work. And it forces people who would otherwise have to be paid out of a job. Quite frankly we might as well put the unemployed in orange boiler suits, spray “soap-dodger” on their back and make them dig ditches.

Except of course it isn’t true. (more…)

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