Anyone remember Boys from the Black Staff? Josser Hughes going round saying “Gissa job” to anyone who would listen? Well, the government is turning all long term unemployed into Josser, telling them that they must make unsolicited applications to any and every firm they can find in the hope of finding some work. Penalty for not doing this? Benefits suspended.
Now there are many views of the long term unemployed, most fostered by the media who focus on the few that are abusing the system and boasting about living a good life on benefits. Programmes like “Benefit Street” which focused on the few making them minor celebrities, while ignoring the vast majority of the people living in the street whether they were on benefits or not. Or the newspaper coverage of the mother and daughter who proudly boast of being too fat to work and happy to live on benefits which provide them with more comfort than most people struggling on a low income can expect.
But these cases are the minority. The headline grabbers. The true situation in this time of supposed recovery is that the vast majority of the long term unemployed would love to work but cannot find a job. There may be unfilled vacancies but they are not necessarily in the right place or require the skills the unemployed have. Whether this is due to poor training for the young or over qualification of the older people, no one has asked the question.
People are being told to dumb down their CVs, so that managers don’t feel threatened by over-qualified applicants. Older people are struggling because younger managers don’t want to take on people who may know more than they do. When down-sizing departments, both in government, civil service and industry, the older people with experience, who cost more to employ, are the ones who are made redundant these days.
There has been a big increase in the number of people becoming self-employed. This is fine if they have the resources to cover start-up costs, be that from personal finances or bank loans. But not everyone can or wants to do this.
So the long term unemployed are expected to send out fifty applications a week, random, not in reply to any advertisement. These applications must be printed, not hand written, so either the applicant needs a computer and printer or they have to get the applications photocopied. Either way it is likely to come out between 2p-4p per page. Then postage on top of that, First Class only is acceptable. Or if you can’t afford postage the applicants must hand deliver applications to businesses on High Streets or industrial estates.
This is not just one Josser Hughes or Norman Tebbit on his bike, but hundreds, if not thousands, of people, so what is the likely response to these begging letters, for that is what they amount to. If they come in the post it is quite likely they go straight in the bin without anyone of importance seeing them. If they are hand delivered the applicants are faced with being told to go away, but not in such polite terms. How else are businesses likely to respond when they may get maybe one letter a day? If you need someone you advertise, you don’t want people constantly bothering you asking for a job.
And if this doesn’t result in a job after a few months the unemployed will be forced to ‘work’ for their benefits. Now some people might cheer at this. I read someone suggest this not long ago, but they were suggesting maybe one day a week. This scheme requires people to work a full week, wherever they are sent regardless of distance from home. Failure to turn up on time for any reason – suspension of benefit again. Serves them right, some might say. But what is the further implication of this. Supermarkets can get their shelves filled for free, warehouses can get their items picked for free. People looking for part-time work won’t be able to find any because all their jobs are being done for free, so even if you WANT to work it will be harder to find something to do.
All this is aimed at the long term unemployed, people who have been living on basic benefits for a long time, who have used up all their savings, who might well be subject to the bedroom tax, who now have to pay for printing and postage for pointless letters, who will have to pay transport costs they cannot afford and who are told to ask for loans from friends and family.
If this was going to save a substantial amount from the benefits bill it might be reasonable, but to be truthful, there are many other things that could save more money. The bedroom tax did not succeed in providing a vast number of larger properties for the homeless. In many places people are having to pay it regardless of whether there is a housing problem in their area or not.
Instead of penalising the very poorest of our society the Government should be looking at how it spends money in the first place.
Of course, with the election approaching none of this will be mentioned by the Conservatives. The focus seems to be on the NHS, an important aspect of our life certainly. But how long before the wards are being cleaned for free by the slaves of the government?
Immigration is another point that gets lots of attention but is far less of a problem than is made out.
Why are there no protest marches against the bedroom tax and the way the long term unemployed are treated? Oh, I forgot, these people are all scroungers and unworthy. NOT!