New attempt to demean benefit claimants launched by right-wing loonies

Bin it: We don't need the Taxpayers' Alliance or its rubbish ideas.

Bin it: We don’t need the Taxpayers’ Alliance or its rubbish ideas.

For a change, it isn’t the government!

The Taxpayers’ Alliance, an organisation of right-wingers determined to turn the UK into a low-tax economy by any possible means, has decided that Universal Credit claimants need to do community service-style unpaid work – or they shouldn’t receive a penny.

According to the BBC, the group reckons people should do 30 hours’ unpaid activity every week, and has suggested this could save £3.5 billion in social security payments every year.

Is that because it has worked so well in the past?

Schemes like this are already in place for jobseekers and, guess what, they don’t work. It costs more money to employ the private firms that administer them than they ever succeed in saving, and their success rate in getting people into jobs is so bad that benefit claimants would have a better chance of success if they just go and look for work by themselves.

In addition, Universal Credit will be paid to working people who claim, for example, tax credits and/or housing benefit. They have to claim these benefits because their employers do not pay them enough money to cover all their necessary outgoings – food, rent, electricity and so on. That is a result of right-wing government policy that aims to keep wages low. How are these low-paid working people supposed to fit another 30 hours’ work into their already-busy week?

Also: Community service? That’s what convicted criminals do. Unemployment is not a criminal offence and every TPA member should be ashamed that their leaders have conflated the two.

Finally, for every person carrying out unpaid work, a paid job is removed from the economy. Has it not occurred to the Taxpayers’ Alliance that the amount HMRC collects from them might drop, if more people were actually paying taxes?

Probably not, but then – oh, look – it seems the TPA is being investigated for, don’t laugh, dodging tax.

“Taxpayers rightly expect something back for the enormous amount they pay for out-of-work benefits, at the very least a real commitment to find a job as soon as possible,” said TPA chief executive Matthew Sinclair, proving in a single sentence that he understands neither Universal Credit nor the fact that people who claim it are also taxpayers.

No – this is not about helping anybody. It won’t save government money; it won’t help businesses and it certainly won’t help people on Universal Credit.

This is about demeaning people who are already in a very difficult place through no fault of their own. It is about pretending that they are a burden on society when it is the government’s own schemes – and the schemes that the TPA wants brought in – that are creating the burden.

Still, today’s misguided and wholly wrong-headed outburst does allow us to clarify what is needed.

People in work need to be paid a living wage, and should be respected by their employers for the work that they do.

And firms currently taking part in unpaid ‘workfare’ schemes need to be told that enough is enough; they’ve had the benefit of free workers for many years, and now it’s time to give something back by turning those positions into paid jobs – again at the living wage.

People in paid work pay taxes – and those earning enough that they don’t need any benefits at all are a double boon to the Exchequer because they pay into the Treasury but do not take anything out.

That is the way forward.


  1. richardbroomhall September 4, 2013 at 11:19 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on this 'n that.

  2. samedifference1 September 4, 2013 at 11:35 am - Reply
  3. thepositivevoice September 4, 2013 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on thepositivevoice.

  4. Samwise Gamgee September 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    Nice summing up Mr. Sivier, but sadly this very reasonable and sensible analysis will be drowned out by the right wing noise that will no doubt dominate the news and blogosphere. Already the BBC article is full of the usual comments about taxpayers “funding the lifestyles of scroungers”. No doubt this announcement is meant to be another small step towards the introduction of such a policy; it may not happen now, but the Tories or even Labour are bound to start talking about a workfare based scheme in time for the next election.

    Just wait and see.

    • Mike Sivier September 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm - Reply

      I agree about the BBC article; you’re probably right about the rest of it, too. Hopefully Labour will surprise us all in the near future.

      Hey, when’s Miliband supposed to be doing his cabinet reshuffle?

  5. AM-FM September 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Yep, good points as ever.

    But, the end of the paragraph beginning “Finally, for every person..” is a bit too complex for me!

  6. AM-FM September 4, 2013 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    “it seems the TPA is being investigated for, don’t laugh, dodging tax.”

    I’m not surprised, I don’t seem to be able to find anything on their funding, why not just be open. They seem to be funded purely on handouts.

  7. beastrabban September 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    Mike, I had a conversation with CJ about the Taxpayers’ Alliance a little while ago. They’re an astroturf organisation: a totally fake, supposedly ‘grass-roots’ pressure group. They’re actually a subsidiary of the Tory party. All their leaders are members of the Conservatives, though it claims to be non-party political. It’s also another example of Beeb right-wing media bias in that whenever the Beeb discusses taxation, or some other issue, they get them on without telling you you’re hearing the propaganda of a Tory front organisation.

    • Mike Sivier September 4, 2013 at 2:34 pm - Reply

      That’s worth knowing – although I’ll have to point out that this is what CJ alleges (old viewers of Have I Got New For You should also enjoy the reference).

      • beastrabban September 4, 2013 at 3:13 pm - Reply

        True. However, I checked on Google, and apparently Jonathan Isaby, the political director of the Taxpayers Alliance and author of the piece is also in charge of the ConservativeHome website. I don’t know, however, if he is the same Jonathan Isaby, who has a column in the Torygraph.

  8. Jim Butler-Daulby (@Psychjim) September 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Just how far to the right is this country aiming to go? I keep reading such stories across the blogosphere, such as Lord Bitcham making noises about pensioners having to work for their pensions, or people committing suicide because of ATOS assessments, or the bedroom tax creating homelessness and disabling the already disabled, or more and more children being thrown into poverty because of unnecessary benefit cuts. Why are we just writing about these things and not taking some sort of action? I see many, many blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter tweets where there are in excess of a hundred replies and ‘likes’ and ‘up-votes’, so there must be thousands of us “Mr & Mrs Angy’s-of-Basingstoke”, if not more. Are we still too small a number to rattle the smug fences of these unelected thieves and organised gangsters? All these ‘ideas’ from “think-tanks”, if left unchallenged, tend to creep into general consensus by means of more polished PR. How else did the “honest, hard-working classes” become the scum of the Earth? There has to be some means of gathering the numbers and challenging these unelected Tories and lying Lib-Dems. Small protests on isolated issues just seem to fuel the fire. This is, after all, a democracy. Can we not all agree that these monsters have had their day and now its time for them to go. The next election is too far away. Enough time for more people to die, either suicidally, or through malnutrition!

    • Brian Bridge September 4, 2013 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      The essential problem is the universal one that the English are gutless, self seeking robots who believe everything in the Sun, Mail and Express. If they suffer they blame everyone except themselves. And they still believe they are a world power and a world moral leader Pssffft They LOVE being abused by public schoolboys and the over- privileged as long as they can whine & winge.

  9. Editor September 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on kickingthecat.

  10. […] For a change, it isn't the government! The Taxpayers' Alliance, an organisation of right-wingers determined to turn the UK into a low-tax economy by any possible means, has decided that Universal C…  […]

  11. Steve Chapman September 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    According to the Telegraph, this survey was completed in 2011, BEFORE the latest raft of Draconian cuts to the Welfare State. This group that conducted the survey seem a shady bunch, are they a political organisation as I have seen claimed in forums, claiming ordinary members of the public also fund their work, despite there being no facility to donate on their website?

  12. Alex Casale September 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    As I have already noted these are a Tory mouthpiece…based in Westminster…nuff said!

  13. davemunnik September 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm - Reply
  14. Paul Smyth September 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on The Greater Fool.

  15. Sheogorath September 6, 2013 at 7:50 am - Reply

    They LOVE being abused by public schoolboys and the over-privileged as long as they can whine & winge.
    Any wonder gay men are sometimes called ‘fags’?

  16. rainbowwarriorlizzie September 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm - Reply
  17. rainbowwarriorlizzie September 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm - Reply

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