Monday, November 08, 2010

Working for the dole - sound idea, poor on detail

Every now and again you find yourself wanting to smack your own face with the keyboard in frustration. For me it usually occurs after reading the obsessive rantings of my favourite online loonies, but more often these days it occurs when the Coalition trailed a new policy which in principle is a good idea but falls flat on its big arse in implementation and detail.

Only a few weeks ago I blogged about how unemployment benefit ought to come with a responsibility to do a few hours work each week for the state. Nothing to big just litter picking, cutting grass, keeping the local community tidy. They do it in other countries, many with socialist governments.

It seems that such an idea is in the offing from Iain Duncan-Smith, which means I'm either well in there in the influence stakes or far more likely I've been lucky with my prescience. Anyhow, enough of how fabulously brilliant I am because it seems that that brilliance has not rubbed off on IDS as the implementation and detail of the new plan looks to be yet another of those "take gun, shoot oneself in the foot" moment.

You see, the principle of making the long-term unemployed get off their arse and do something is not a bad thing. In fact, for all the supposed "fury" that will come from the usual quarters it's another of those sort of policies that will resonate very well with the vast majority of taxpayers who, on the occasion they may be sick from work, find themselves swearing at the "scum of the earth" slackers that appear on Jeremy Kyle.

The problem though, is that the plan, allegedly, intends to make the long-term unemployed do a four week work programme at 30 hours per week for their £65(ish) dole money - that's less than half the minimum wage so it doesn't take a genius and in fact a complete spaz would probably be able to spot the problem.

Now of course, one might say "fuck it, they're lazy and shouldn't expect more" but this is politics, and in politics you need to be clever and not give your opponents ammunition. This si why the policy would be far more sensible if they said the long-term unemployed at to work the relevant number of hours that matched the minimum wage.

Hey ho, let's watch and see if they backtrack.

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