If you think Labour took a wrong turn, here’s Iain Duncan Smith

Hour of the Vampire: Iain Batwing Smith is forcing jobseekers into non-jobs for no pay in order to cut off their benefits. He'll bleed you dry. [Image: Christopher Sharrock http://sharrock.wordpress.com/]

Hour of the Vampire: Iain Batwing Smith is forcing jobseekers into non-jobs for no pay in order to cut off their benefits. He’ll bleed you dry. Image: Christopher Sharrock http://sharrock.wordpress.com/

Even after Rachel Reeves’ recent lurch to the Right, Labour’s behaviour remains beyond saintly in comparison with the gutter-vermin who describes himself as the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

I read the following altercation, copied verbatim from today’s Hansard (the record of Parliamentary events) on Facebook and almost despaired. The following took place during Work and Pensions Questions.

Andy Sawford (Corby) (Lab/Co-op): “Will the Secretary of State confirm whether benefits officers been have told not to sanction people when the only job offered is on a zero-hours contract? Do Ministers recognise that the new claimant commitments mean that people will not actually be able to sign zero-hours contracts without risking losing their in-work benefits?

Mr Duncan Smith: “The claimant commitment is about people’s obligations under the existing terms. They will have to seek work, attend interviews and try to get a job, and once they are offered a job they must take it. Those are the sanctions coming up under universal credit. People will lose benefits for three months for a first offence, six months for a second offence and three years for a third offence. Right now, zero-hours contracts are legal. If Labour wants to change the law, we want to hear that from the honourable Gentleman.”

In a nutshell, Iain Duncan Smith was saying that anyone offered a zero-hours contract must take it or lose their benefits for a minimum of 13 weeks.

Zero-hours contracts are treacherous – as we all know. Often an employee could be left waiting for days or weeks without receiving a call to come to work, but – as they are, technically, employed – they cannot claim unemployment benefits for the periods of downtime.

So Iain Duncan Smith is saying that many jobseekers will have a Hobson’s Choice between taking a job that guarantees no pay, no benefits and no security of tenure, or the complete loss of benefits for at least three months.

How, exactly, does that tally with his policy objective, which describes as “Making Work Pay”?

It can’t.

This might deserve a complaint under the Trade Descriptions Act.

38 thoughts on “If you think Labour took a wrong turn, here’s Iain Duncan Smith

  1. Pingback: If you think Labour took a wrong turn, here's I...

  2. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

    oooh sorry…heres the extract

    1.10 The Department of Work and Pensions did not provide us with such a human rights memorandum in relation to this Bill. It was encouraged to do so, but declined. The Explanatory Notes contain a section on the European Convention on Human Rights,[8] but the analysis contained therein is disappointingly lacking in detail. It analyses the human rights implications of the Bill as a whole according to the ECHR rights affected, rather than clause by clause. This means that the analysis is at a much higher level of generality than in the ECHR memoranda based upon clause-by-clause analysis which is undertaken for the Government’s Parliamentary Business and Legislation Committee, on which other human rights memoranda we have received have been based. The Explanatory Notes are replete with assertions that a particular measure which interferes with a right is “proportionate” due to “safeguards”, often without specifying what those safeguards are or, where they will be provided in regulations, precisely what those safeguards are intended to be. There is little reference to evidence to substantiate the Government’s views assertions about justification and proportionality, and there is hardly any consideration of or reference to relevant case-law.

  3. Big Bill

    Can’t claimants claim for working tax credits or something like that when they’re on a ZH contract but not earning anything? I don’t know a lot about them (as you might gather).

      1. Samwise Gamgee

        I think the minimum threshold for Working Tax Credits is 24 hours per week now. But it is frightening, since many zero-hours contacts don’t guarantee even that many hours. This could see a perfect storm for claimants and low paid workers alike. Like you said, it makes a mockery of the government’s promise that they will “make work pay”…

      2. joanna

        You are right Mike, you have to clock up 30 hours of work to be eligble, which is like banks saying ” you have nothing, go away” but if you do have money they are happy to throw more money at you! go figure.

      3. Big Bill

        Banking is about wealth extraction. If you already have some money, they can lend you 5 to get ten back. If you have nothing to start with, they can’t get anything out of you. See? 🙂 It gets worse when you realise they don’t actually make any loans at all, when banks pretend to lend money they actually create new money. Almost all of the money in circulation has been introduced that way for the purpose of wealth extraction. No wonder it doesn’t work, eh? 🙂

      4. bookmanwales

        Working tax credits can be claimed for as little as 16 hrs depending on your circumstances. However, the principle here is that you just change one benefit for another so unemployment falls but the benefit bill remains unchanged to any great extent.
        Under existing rules you can already work up to 15 hrs and still sign on, any earnings deducted from JSA, this still protects your Housing and CT benefit and seems fairly easy to administer as the system is already in place.
        Zero hour contracts are of course a nonsense, regardless of those (obviously Tory plants) who say they really really like the “flexibility” the very essence of looking for work is that your require some income, hence why look for work in the first place. if you don’t want full time you look for part time “simples” to quote a furry creature.
        Doing 10 hours work a week but sitting by the phone for a further 30 hours unpaid is, in my mind, not particularly flexible for the person on the receiving end of a Zero hours contract.

  4. kittysjones

    It “makes work pay” in the same way that the New Poor Law Amendment Act did: was based on the “principle of less eligibility,” which stipulated that the condition of the “able-bodied pauper” on relief be less “eligible” – that is, less desirable, less favourable – than the condition of the poorest independent labourer. “

    Less-eligibility” meant not only that the pauper receive less by way of relief than the labourer did from his wages but also that he receive it in such a way (in the workhouse, for example) that made pauperism less respectable than work – to stigmatise it. Thus the labourer would be discouraged from lapsing into a state of “dependency” and the pauper would be encouraged to work.

    The Poor Law “made work pay”, in other words.

    The Poor Law Commission report, presented in March 1834, was largely the work of two of the Commissioners, Nassau Senior and Edwin Chadwick. The report took the outline that poverty was essentially caused by the indigence of individuals rather than economic and social conditions. Paupers claimed relief regardless of his merits: large families got most, which encouraged improvident marriages; women claimed relief for bastards, which encouraged immorality; labourers had no incentive to work; employers kept wages artificially low as workers were subsidised from the poor rate.

    I am sure that the commissioners have descendants that now write for the Daily Mail.

    1. Big Bill

      I’m hearing that Mail editor Paul Dacre has land in Scotland. Like other landowners, he gets given hundreds of thousands a year, taken from our taxes, as a consequence. That’s the law. If you own a sizeable chunk of land, we have to give you money, lots of money. Who would make a law like that? Landowners would, and until quite recently our parliament was stuffed with them. Obviously, Dacre would rather we were pointing fingers at benefit claimants with their pathetic 70-odd quid a week than the real benefit scroungers and parasites like, er, him. Hence the Mail’s seemingly baseless hostility.

  5. kj

    The way he used the word offense to describe jobseekers says a lot about his mental state, no question in my mind he is a madman.

  6. Joe Ohara

    If we didn’t know before we do now, that Ian Duncan Smith is a spineless coward and a FASCIST. The department led by him (DWP) is following the lead set in Germany in the 1920s / 30s by this relentless attack on the defenceless and those with no voice to help. This was the erudite minister who branded over 500,000 people as morons, and Classed their call for smith to live on £53.00 per week after he said he could as a meaningless stunt. He needs to be reminded every hour on the hour that we the public knows he’s a fraud, a liar a bully and a cheat, he needs to be questioned about his degree, bettsygate and his expenses. Cameron needs to know he will lose the election if IDS has a job.

    1. Big Bill

      Let’s not forget, it is only the defenceless and those with no voice that Duncan-Smith can bully. He defines himself, not us.

  7. Joe Ohara

    The DWP (Ian Duncan Smith in charge) refuses to release information regarding the deaths in this country ( estimated at over 3900) because they state its a “vexatious” request, so, if you feel this information should be made public and IDS Atos should be questioned regarding these deaths, write to your MP demanding this information be released. I’ve written to mine and he is actioning my request. We must ensure IDS/DWP/Atos are brought to book and face justice.

  8. cmgregson

    With these rules you could eliminate unemployment without creating a single job:

    After obtaining the contact list for all UK jobseekers, I offer each of them a zero hours contract to be my Pachyderm Containment Executive. This binding contract means they must be on call, taking no other work, until such time as I let an elephant loose in their area. At that point they will be paid minimum wage to catch it and bring it home. And as if by magic the country is free from the scourge of unemployment!

  9. EdinburghEye

    Wouldn’t it be great if Labour were trying to be something good in themselves, not just aiming to be not quite as bad as the Tories – while trying to represent themselves as “even tougher” – that is, even worse – than the Tories?

  10. Iain Duncan Smith MP

    Surely if all of the other political parties, including Labour and the Liberal Democrats, clubbed together and co-operated, something could be done about this terrible business?

      1. Iain Duncan Smith MP

        The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

  11. Joe Ohara

    Ian Duncan Smith, gutter vermin? When did he improve to this elevated level?
    Isn’t this unfair to gutter vermin!!

  12. vicmart009

    Reblogged this on vicmart009 and commented:
    I believe that the people of this country shall not stand by silently for this prostitution of human rights into slavery. We all have a part to play . This can take many shapes & shades of action.

    1. bookmanwales

      Unfortunately your belief in the people of this country is misplaced.
      Despite the deaths of thousands, the erosion of pay and conditions the forced overtime and the ever rising prices a shiny new gadget or new reality show will take their minds to a different plane.
      Announce tougher working or unemployment conditions quickly followed by an ad for the new Iphone or new series of BGT and then survey to see who remembers what, put your belief somewhere it may do some good like Aliens, Lizard rulers or even the Loch Ness Monster, more chance of finding those things than people in this country giving a toss about what is happening around them.

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