Monday, 8 November 2010

Tax Payers Alliance Vs Church of England

Just back from BBC Radio Scotland following a short sharp exchange of views with the Tax Payers Alliance over the Coalition’s latest proposals to force the unemployed to do unpaid work or lose their benefits.

From memory, I don’t think I or the interviewer managed to get the TPA spokesperson to once mention the word ‘tax’ or ’tax payer’ in between her diatribe against the work-shy, but it was interesting to note that an organisation which claims to be non-political and ‘of the people’ was prepared to publicly accuse the Archbishop of Canterbury of “sticking his oar in” (I think I quote correctly, if not apologies to the scrupulously accurate Tax Dodgers Alliance for paraphrasing). The TPA obviously feels quite relaxed about appearing on national radio to pass moral and social judgment on the ‘work ethic’ but seems to thinks that the Church of England should butt out.

It may not be clear for some time whether the latest “bash the work shy” initiative is for the Daily Mail or whether it is for real.

If it is just another nasty headline grabbing initiative its direct impact on individuals will be limited and it will largely play a role in further cheapening the debate and further entrenching the deep divisions in society over the so-called deserving and non-deserving poor.

But, if the proposal is for real it will amount to the creation of a low paid army of elementary workers, undertaking work which will all too easily replace that which is currently being offered as part of mainstream employment.

How long before the first Tory council in England contracts out its street cleaning services to a private company with the labour provided by the long term unemployed?

In this context, and given that the previous Labour Government had a far from impressive record on welfare reform, it is good to see Scottish Labour looking to introduce one of Labour’s better policies from last year - a Future Jobs Fund initiative for Scotland.  I suspect some of the details will still need to be ironed out, but I understand that the programme will include the following features.
  • It will be paid at at least the minimum wage
  • It will be focussed on socially useful additional work rather than replacing existing employment
  • It will include a mandatory training element to improve future jobs prospects.

The scheme will be focussed on the longer term youth unemployed but should, in my view, like the previous UK Future Jobs Fund, be extended to the long-term unemployed in so-called ‘hot spot’ areas.

Creating real jobs, with real structure, a training element and therefore real hope. Now that’s what I call a good use of tax payers money.

Dave Moxham STUC

Timing 1:04:30 into the programme

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