Monday, 20 January 2014

Labour's Plan - Strip Benefits From Unemployed

What is the purpose of jobseeker's allowance? There is a clue in the title as it is for people who are looking for work and there are two types of JSA. One type is based on the contributions made in the previous two years which, unsurprisingly, is called contributions-based JSA and there is also an income-based JSA. If you are over 25 the benefit comes to £71.70 and is less for those under 25. It isn't guaranteed that you will receive this money as there are criteria to fulfil, but this benefit isn't the safety net that gives you the money for the basic things in life, it is simply a benefit to tide you over until the next job. So if a job came up paying the minimum wage of £6.31 (for those over 21) then there would have to be a contract for over 11.37 hours to make it worth while.

Now put yourself in that individual's shoes. If you get a contract for 20 hours on the minimum wage  then you are getting £126.20 but you are losing your £71.70. Effectively you are working for £54.50. On purely financial terms it is difficult to see why you should get out of bed. It looks like any debt that you have will still be spiraling out of control. It doesn't need a genius to see why many young people 'feel they have nothing to live for'. The Government's answer is to provide jobs and apprenticeships.

The Labour Party has come up with its own plan - 'to strip benefits from unemployed people who lack basic English, maths and computing skills. These people have been failed by the education system. They are unemployed. They are most likely to be in a cycle of debt. And today the Labour Party's response is to rob them of their remaining dignity. Sorry, I mean the Labour Party are doing this with the intention of upgrading the skills of those who are unemployed in order to make them more employable. However there is a big problem with this. If there aren't enough jobs then it doesn't matter how many qualifications they have. Why do I think this looks like kicking people when they are down?

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