A4e Work Programme Customer
(Photo credit: Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty)
“Minister‘s anger over ‘job snobs’ opposing Tesco work experience for unemployed“ screams the latest scrounging headline in the Daily Telegraph (aka The Torygraph). UK government and media should be ashamed of demonising people with disabilities, the lower-classes & unemployed benefits claimants. Yet they conveniently overlook public figures, the middle class & wealthy who also claim benefits and MPs who have more lives than a cat when it comes to landing on their feet despite expenses scandals. The steady diet of lies & misinformation fed to the British masses is abominable.
The majority of those championing workfare have no direct experience of it. I won’t hold my breath that Employment Minister Chris Grayling, DWP Secretary Ian Duncan Smith and other MPs would gladly “volunteer” to give up their cushy role & expenses – and live on workfare for at least one year before again passing judgement. It is quite obvious that willful ignorance drives the onslaught against vulnerable people. This, despite the eye-opening involvement of several MPs (including Smith and his replacement, Guido Fawkes favourite Nadine Dorries) in the Tower Block of Commons reality series on Channel 4 in early 2010 – where MPs camped out in Tower Blocks for eight days to see how the other half live.
There *are* solutions that would work for the better of society instead of the twisted morality that the main three UK parties and their acolytes subscribe to. I propose that the Coalition Government & Opposition:
- Give us legitimate work that leads to marketable & profitable skills with a decent wage. Tesco workfare placements are not placed into their Management Trainee Programme and contrary to spin, the vast majority of shelf-stackers will not be catapulted into Supermarket CEOs.
- Give Employment Support Allowance – Work Related Activity Group and JobSeeker’s Allowance Work Programme aspiring Entrepreneurs the help & support we need to make our ideas happen. Past and present programmes are as abysmal as workfare initiatives, as I indicated in my recent post “Not idle, just unsupported”.
- Allow end-users to have direct input into reforms as we’ve done with the winning #benefitscamp presentation. I will not disagree that reforms *could* be beneficial if done in a fair and balanced way that doesn’t defy all sense of common decency, but as the late great Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” To date there is endless spin about those affected being consulted, but until #benefitscamp neither I, nor any of the other disabled and non-yet-disabled benefits claimants participating had the opportunity to directly engage and make a positive difference. We came up with a workable “Permitted Work” solution in one hour’s time that would benefit ESA WRAG & JSA claimants. One hour!
- Do something about the extortionate cost of renting & profiteering utility companies. Contrary to popular mythos, Neither ESA & JSA nor Housing Benefit covers daily living needs. Many claimants are the “Working poor” who don’t earn enough to cover their basic outgoings (rent, travel, utilities and food). VAT in and of itself is a big problem for those without the advantages of Westminster or in inherited wealth to see them through weekly and monthly expenses. Private landlords have an over-inflated sense of entitlement no thanks to the collusion between DWP spin doctors and tabloid media that makes the GBP believe that all rent is covered – this is only true for council tenants.
Benefits critics and exploiters alike are clueless about the Local Housing Allowance Rate (LHA) system underpinning Housing Benefit Awards. LHA is a flat rate wholly dictated by household size and location.Using Wales as an example: Here in Wales, an estimated 80% of households reside in private accommodation; of that – 12% are private renters like myself. As a 46 year-old single renter with no dependents, my LHA rate is in accordance to the “1 bedroom self-contained” qualifier. No matter what property I find in my LA (Vlae of Glamorgan), that amount is what I will receive if I apply and qualify for Housing Benefit (note: billions in pounds of Benefits go unclaimed UK-wide annually). I can be re-assessed up to four times per annum, with the Award adjusted accordingly. Re-assessments happen both with and without my direct involvement, depending on how my LA is affected by policy at Westminster / The Welsh Assembly.
Re-assessments are equal to a new application despite being designated as a “Renewal”. My disabilities & illness garner no special treatment even in the most dire circumstances of need. Despite moving house to decrease expenses as instructed by the Council, I am still having to make up the shortfall in rent not covered by the LHA – nearly £300 until the next reassessment where it will increase should I still be claiming.
LHA Rates for Wales 2012 (current)
|January||1 bedroom with shared facilities||1 bedroom self contained||2 bedroom||3 bedroom||4 bedroom||5 bedroom|
|Blaenau Gwent||45.00||65.00||76.15||86.54||115.38||No longer applies|
|Brecon and Radnor||45.00||64.62||90.00||103.85||126.92|
|Neath Port Talbot||46.15||75.00||91.15||100.00||126.92|
|North West Wales||60.00||70.38||92.31||109.62||126.92|
|Vale of Glamorgan||54.23||98.08||121.15||132.69||173.08|
|February||1 bedroom with shared facilities||1 bedroom self contained||2 bedroom||3 bedroom||4 bedroom||5 bedroom|
|Blaenau Gwent||45.00||64.62||76.15||86.54||115.38||No longer applies|
|Brecon and Radnor||45.00||64.62||90.00||103.85||126.92|
|Neath Port Talbot||46.15||80.00||91.15||100.00||126.92|
|North West Wales||60.00||70.00||91.15||109.62||129.00|
|Vale of Glamorgan||51.92||98.08||120.00||132.69||173.08|
- Make it easier for tenants with a good rental history to *not* be denied private housing purely on basis of “No DSS”.
Wales is said to be the most economically deprived of all the constituent countries of the UK.Yet even in the troubled ex-mining communities in the South Wales Valley (where I have been advised to relocate to (again) for business help I don’t qualify for by virtue of living in an “affluent” LA), many private rental listings refuse to consider Benefits claimants irrespective of personal circumstances – again disregarding the factual reality that many benefits claimants are working poor (compared to the middle class & wealthy property owners in an uproar about having their child benefits [tax credits] cut back).
My latest move saw me rejected at every turn by real estate agents here in the VOG. A contrast to when I relocated from London in 2009 post-redundancy. I had no problem renting a flat without being employed and my character references were *never* contacted. I handed over 6 months rent in advance. In 2010 I offered 3 months rent up front and explained my situation. I am now in the one flat I was able to see by the one real estate agent that would bother – and had to get a Guarantor. Despite the fact that I am, by all accounts, a model tenant – I am stuck at the moment that is still too expensive. VOG Council have made a note in my file that I am expected to relocate out of the LA by September 2012.
Workfare just isn’t an option when my ESA comes to a screeching halt.
- ATTACK & SANCTION those actually responsible for the dire state of the economy – TAX EVADERS & BAILED-OUT BANKS – recoup unpaid tax and raise corp tax by 2% . Budget Deficit problem solved.
Workfare in-and-of-itself should be scrapped. If billionaire workfare “providers” can offer work at less than minimum wage then surely they can provide a real job for a true living wage on par with actual Employees. However, if government and “Providers” past and present genuinely cared about those in need, “help” wouldn’t be offered in the form of unskilled McJobs inadequate to cover the costs of every day needs. It really shouldn’t be acceptable that the welfare state exists to keep the less fortunate in a vicious cycle of struggle that perpetuates needing help that really isn’t forthcoming – with claimants being blamed for their misfortune and forced to accept solutions that no MP would ever agree to should the Wheel of Fortune turn against them.
Employment at any cost for the benefit of government is not the cure-all for social-economic disparity.
- Polly Toynbee: “Workfare Really Works” (order-order.com – Guido Fawkes)
- Chris Grayling should respond to criticism of workfare, not smear the critics (leftfootforward.org)
- Job snob? No, I’ve got the T-shirt (liberalconspiracy.org)
- One life to live: the irony on #BenefitsCamp (thecreativecrip.com)
- Workfare in Scotland: FOI denied (weeredsquirrel.com)
- Workfare for the jobless is fair, but it needs a chance to work (oyiabrown.wordpress.com)
- A case for workfare (stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com)
- One life to live: the irony of #benefitscamp (thecreativecrip.com)
- In Praise of Workfare (order-order.com – Guido Fawkes)
- Iain Duncan Smith: it’s better to be a shelf stacker than a ‘job snob’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Should we boycott workfare? (rachelbarkley.wordpress.com)
- Not idle, just unsupported: my original #disabilityUK #dpulo idea for #benefitscamp (thecreativecrip.com)
- “Your starter for ten Iain Duncan Smith” Would you work as an MP or Minister just for your expenses? (victimsofatoscorruption.wordpress.com)
- #HardestHit – Marketing 101 (thecreativecrip.com)
- CWU leadership supports workfare (truth-reason-liberty.blogspot.com)
- Another retailer abandons ‘workfare’ (liberalconspiracy.org)
- A national day of action against workfare – and beyond (truth-reason-liberty.blogspot.com)
More on the “Tower Block of Commons” TV Project:
- Tower Block Of Commons (watchwithmothers.net)
- Tower Block of Commons – Political Hack (politicalhackuk.blogspot.com)
- Tower Block of Commons (Luke’s Blog)
- Tower Block Of Commons: Estate Of The World Address (channelhopping.onthebox.com)
- I was a fool to appear in Tower Block of Commons, says MP Austin Mitchell (guardian.co.uk)
- Last Night’s Television – Coronation Street, ITV1; Tower Block of Commons, Channel 4 (independent.co.uk)
- Videos – C4’s Tower Block of Commons (Google search)
- C4 Programme Guide: Tower Block of Commons (channel4.com)
- Review: Tower Block of Commons (totalpolitics.com)
- Tower Block of Commons – the sheltered life of an MP exposed! (dizzythinks.net)
- Tower Block of Conmmons: MPs in out-of-touch shock (theartsdesk.com)
- Tower Block of Commons Thread – Digital Spy forums (digitalspy.co.uk)
- Tower Block of Bollocks (spectator.co.uk)