[Marxism] Tories Pledge To Bring Back The Workhouse

Stuart Munckton stuartmunckton at gmail.com
Wed Apr 23 05:57:12 MDT 2014


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

The tough but exploitative stance comes into effect in April 2014 and will
affect every claimant who has been unemployed for over three years. Those
affected could face thirty hours of unpaid community work per week for six
months; such as making meals for the elderly, cleaning up litter and
graffiti or charity work, plus 10 hours of “job search activity”. They may
also be required to visit the jobcentre every day, which some commentators
have said is treating unemployed people like criminals who are required to
sign in daily at their local police station.

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

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

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

The chancellor told the Tory Party Conference that for the first time all
long-term unemployed people, who are capable of work, will be required to
do something in return for their benefits. The scheme when it comes into
force in April 2014 will target the 200,000 long-term Jobseeker’s Allowance
(JSA) claimants a year, many of which have been failed by the government’s
controversial Work Programme.

Critics of the Work Programme say the government are cynically blaming
long-term unemployed people for the failures of work schemes by demanding
they continue to work for free. Opponents of the Work Programme say the
schemes amount to nothing less than ‘slave labour’, as they provide free
labour for businesses to assist them in keeping wage costs down. The
government has vehemently denied this.

Those with underlying problems like drink and drug addiction and mental
health issues will be given an intensive regime of help, as will those who
have literacy problems the government say, which critics have described as
stigmatising the unemployed and those with debilitating mental health

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

The Tories new “work for you dole” approach follows ‘hot on the heels’ of
prime minister David Cameron’s reiteration that he has no plan to introduce
the ‘mansion tax’ on high-priced properties if re-elected in 2015. For the
PM the “wealth tax is not sensible for a country that wants to attract
wealth creation and wants to reward saving and people who work hard and do
the right thing.” Labour say that this is yet more proof that the
Conservatives are the party of the rich.

In addition, the Chancellor said that he is offering an economic plan for
“hardworking people”. Osborne claims the plan will create jobs and keep
mortgage rates low as well as allowing working people to keep more of their
income, tax-free.

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is humanity’s
original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made,
through disobedience and through rebellion.” — Oscar Wilde, Soul of Man
Under Socialism

“The free market is perfectly natural... do you think I am some kind of
dummy?” — Jarvis Cocker

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