Lies, damned lies and… ‘forward-looking’?

Don't drool, David! Mr Cameron takes questions after his speech on immigration, earlier this week. See those white flecks on his chin? He had been spitting down his face throughout the event. Perhaps he should not allow himself to get so excited?

Don’t drool, David! Mr Cameron takes questions after his speech on immigration, earlier this week. See those white flecks on his chin? He had been spitting down his face throughout the event. Perhaps he should not allow himself to get so excited?

This week we all learned a new euphemism. From now on, it seems, the less-offensive synonym for a governmental lie will be: “forward-looking”.

As in, for example: “Part of [David Cameron’s speech on reducing immigration] is on the importance of reducing pull factors from people who may be considering coming… There is a forward-looking angle to the speech.” (A Downing Street spokesdrone)

Okay, so when he said he was giving migrants from the European Economic Area – in other words, people who already live here – a “very clear message” that there will be no absolute right to unemployment benefit, those words were referring to the future?

That’s fine, but only 0.65 per cent of the two million net migrants to the UK from countries who joined the EU in 2004 – 13,000 people in total – have ever claimed Jobseekers’ Allowance, and that figure is unlikely to rise in the future.

So for Cameron to be claiming this is an important step forward would be a li- it would be a l- It’s forward-looking??

Downing Street’s claim that there has been a 40 per cent increase in the number of social lettings to migrants between 2007-8 and 2011-12 cannot be taken as forward-looking. It’s a statistic – and a typically-distorted one.

The number has indeed risen by 40 per cent – from 6.5 per cent of the proportion of such lettings to nine per cent. All of those people qualify because they are either working, self-sufficient or have a permanent right of residence in the UK – in other words, they are not a burden on the benefits system.

Eligible foreign nationals have their housing needs considered on the same basis as other, UK-born, applicants in accordance with each local authority’s allocation system – in other words, they get no preferential treatment.

Mr Cameron also said Britain has a “free National Health Service, not a free International Health Service”. It seems likely this claim was based on concerns raised by the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who seems to think foreign nationals owe the health service £200 million a year, despite the fact that official Department of Health figures place the total for 2011-12 at £33 million – less than one-sixth of his claim (but still a substantial sum of money)

Mr Hunt has announced plans to limit free NHS care to permanent, not temporary, foreign nationals, on the basis of these fake- sorry, forward-looking, figures.

Mr Cameron has also announced plans regarding foreign migrants – he’ll limit their benefits. While this shows a certain consistency within the Coalition government – it is already limiting benefits for people who were born here – Cameron seems to be making no effort to tackle illegal immigration, or exploitation of foreign migrants.

But let us not criticise this new “forward-thinking” breeze that is blowing through the corridors of power without considering some of its other applications.

For example, employment minister Mark Hoban said last week, during the debate on the Jobseekers (back to the Workhouse) Bill that there were no national targets for applying sanctions against jobseekers, nor were there league tables of Job Centres, ranging from the best to the worst in imposing those sanctions.

How does he reconcile this with the leaked letter from an employee of Walthamstow Job Centre, which is 95th in the allegedly nonexistent league table – out of only 109.

The letter states: “I have until the 15th Feb… to show an improvement. Then it’s a PIP [Performance Improvement Plan – the first stage of disciplinary action for Job Centre Employees] for me… to improve my teams SBR [Stricter Benefit Regime – in other words, sanction] referral rate.” The letter went on to say the Job Centre’s manager was looking for 25 such referrals per week, from each section.

“Guys, we really need to up our game here,” the letter concludes. “The 5% target is one thing, the fact we are seeing over 300 people a week and only submitting 6 of them for possible doubts is simply not quite credible.”

Another thing that is now “not quite credible” is Mr Hoban’s claim that there are no targets and no league tables. Or was this another bit of “forward-looking” – to a time when there won’t be any need for them? Perhaps when everyone has been cleared off benefits altogether?

A leaked newsletter for Malvern Job Centre, quoted in The Guardian, also refers to the five per cent target.

Liam Byrne, the Labour work and pensions spokesman who traded away his Party’s opposition to the Jobseekers (back to the Workhouse) Bill for a nebulous promise of an independent review of back-to-work schemes, lasting 12 months and with no deadline set for the government to respond to its report, demanded that this review should be set up immediately, “so it can begin the job of putting the DWP’s house back in order” – even though it has nothing to do with the sanctions regime.

He clearly doesn’t want to rock the boat.

So we have government ministers – and a Prime Minister – determined to lie- sorry, look forward about as many policies as possible, while Her Majesty’s Opposition is determined to look the other way.

And, out in the real world… How are your finances looking for next month?

11 thoughts on “Lies, damned lies and… ‘forward-looking’?

    1. Owen Williams

      @NORBET:
      How much will the appeals cost? What, cost the government? SOD ALL, mate, that’s what. They’ve just put legislation in-place to trap anyone who appeals any decision in a never-ending circle of a mandatory ‘review of (their) case’. The ‘review’ system has no set time limit during which the review must take place before it can go to tribunal, so you can guess how many claims they’re going to ‘lose in the system’. Completely by accident, of course. =)

      IDS and Lord Fraud want a serious bloody review of their sanity.

      Actually, scrap that — THEY ALL DO.

  1. Jj

    Sanctions are a joke. They’ve horribly mutated from a legitimate deterrent to a tool for deflating the number of active claims.
    The JCP and WP are getting to a point where they have to artificially orchestrate these sanction conditions themselves by, like the example above, extending the requirement to claimants beyond the information they supply to them.

  2. NORBET (@NORBET)

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/oct/04/million-working-adults-benefits-cuts aim is for 1.2m to be sanctioned under UC , double the expected the number …at the moment it’s 700K …Freud or IDS or Hoban can’t deny it the DWP submitted statistics to the Rowntree Foundation re sanction stats …the irony is that it’s a left leaning think tank

    It’s also an convenient unemployment figures fiddle ……add 700,000 not counted on sanctions to the unemployment figures it goes up to 3.2 million , add Workfare and it’s perilously getting up to 4 million . I

    In the Thatcher era and during Major depression …unemployment was really at least 4m ….if you discounted YTS …….then you’ve got what are laughably called apprenticeships …many retail chains like Morrisons use this scheme …in all you’ve 7-9 m unemployed or under employed

    ….the Job Centres and Dole Offices will have to go back to the 80’s Stalinist type buildings with staff behind counters and glass screens ( see Guardian comments from an ex member of staff ) …otherwise they’ll have to employ a lot more G4S bouncers …sorry I mean Guards …trebles all round as they say in Private Eye …Jeremy C-Hunt has always defended the indefensible with that ” colourful ” outfit …so no vested interests here ? ….not .

    During the Major era …people suspected off working on the lump , cash in hand were put on Workfare , the idea was to cramp their style and get them to come off benefits , no apparent questioning as to who was the organ grinder and who was the monkey , quite a lot of the ” lower end ” of the security industry work that way …..particularly the ones on building sites , a true blue cut throat industry which has always been notorious for ” the lump ” …especially with the ” subbies ” , that’s if the guards get paid at all …..coincidently Grayling and that O’Brien of that uber neo – liberal right wing ” think tank ” work on the same lines …that supposed interview where he sat in on …re a lad who worked in a night club …usually a very seedy service industry

    Also according to Ipswich Unemployed Action JCP+ have tried to recruit their own workfare serfs . http://intensiveactivity.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/jobcentre-plus-uses-workfare/

  3. paurina

    Hi Mike, I’m being challenged on this statistic: only 0.65 per cent of the two million net migrants to the UK from countries who joined the EU in 2004 – 13,000 people in total – have ever claimed Jobseekers’ Allowance
    Can you help please – what’s the source?
    Many thanks. Love your blog

      1. paurina

        Thanks Mike. My challenger – who happens to be a much-loved nephew – is proving hard to convince (he thinks anecdotal evidence and common sense make for better information), but I’m continuing to try 😉

  4. Stephen Bunting

    Don’t want ’em coming over here, jumping off the back off a lorry and sprinting to the nearest dole office …. as you point out here, they aren’t ( and I work with a number of non-UK nationals ) … but what we have here is a campaign of lies designed to secretly privatise poor relief – NHS included – and laugh all the way to the bank on the resulting kickbacks.

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