Has the writing of Tory welfare policy been outsourced to the Daily Mail? – alittleecon

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The Tories announced two new welfare policies this week. The first was their plan to remove benefits from those with drug and alcohol problems or who are obese and who are refusing treatment, while the second, announced today (not for the first time?), seemed to be all out work for the dole for 18-21 year olds, writes Alex Little.

I was listening to a talk show discussion on the radio yesterday about the first policy, and was struck by how there was a neat divide between those who worked with addicts or in the healthcare sector in general, and those who seemed to me the type of people who think what’s printed in the Daily Mail is the unvarnished truth. The healthcare professionals universally thought it was a ridiculous idea, while the Daily Mail readers thought it was simple common sense. Guess which these policies are designed to appeal to?

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20 thoughts on “Has the writing of Tory welfare policy been outsourced to the Daily Mail? – alittleecon

  1. Steve Grant

    If the sheep in this country put the conservatives back in my advice to ALL the youngsters would be get the hell out of the UK….because there will be nothing for you here.Make a life for yourself where you will be appreciated.

  2. Jim Round

    The problem with this policy is that it is popular in some circles.
    If new immigrants can get jobs within days of entering the country, why can’t indigenous young people.
    This of course ignores any barriers or wider issues faced by the above.
    Wages being one issue.
    The solution is very complex and will take a lot more than sound bites and scapegoating.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Immigrants have very little to do with this – Cameron would have wanted to do it if we had many immigrants or few.
      This is about scapegoating people who were unlucky enough not to be born into rich or well-connected families, who don’t have the right connections, or who are simply unlucky – and it’s about pushing people into jobs that don’t pay enough to cover the cost of living in a country that is rapidly becoming too expensive for its lowest-PAID citizens.
      Perhaps people have forgotten that this government is supposed to be enforcing legislation banning the exploitation of immigrants at sub-minimum wage rates? If that actually happens, then there won’t be the inducement to hire immigrants over willing UK-born citizens. Right?
      The solution isn’t complex at all; it just requires the political will to see it done.

      1. Jim Round

        It is complex in the fact that employers in some sectors prefer immigrants as they are sometimes less likely to be concerned with employment rights and being involved with Unions.
        Also, companies such as Asda are asking for applicants to go through selection tests and days to become shelf stackers, people who are not confident in maths and are unlikely ever to be, and/or get nervous and lack confidence at interviews are unlikely to suceed.
        There are also transport and childcare issues for some.
        Another issue is the living wage, something that I have commented on before.
        Companies will just look for an excuse to increase prices, which affect consumers in the long run.
        You then need to look at the tax burden and corporate welfare.
        There is also the problem of skill shortages in certain areas.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        These days, you could say a lot of British people are less likely to be concerned with employment rights and unions – the former aren’t offered and the latter are toothless.
        If Asda wants applicants to go through tests requiring competence in maths, doesn’t it follow that migrant workers who may not be confident in their language skills would be at a distinct disadvantage? They might get the maths right but would they be able to communicate it adequately?
        There have always been transport and childcare issues for some.
        The Living Wage would not be an issue – at least for many firms – if their bosses were not so phenomenally greedy.
        Companies looking for an excuse to raise prices – that’s not a complication caused by government decisions. It’s greed, again.
        If the living wage was imposed, the tax burden would drop.
        As for skills shortages, we hear a lot about this – but how serious is the problem in real life? How many news stories do you read in which firms are crying out for workers with the right skills? And why do these firms not have dedicated training teams anyway?

  3. Jim Round

    More people than you think are concerned about employment rights, it’s because of the race to the bottom an the threat of being replaced by “people who would be grateful for a job”
    Immigrants are usually employed on production lines or care work, usually provided by agencies.
    Regards to Asda, how is someone, for example with a learning disability meant to apply for a basic job?
    Yes bosses are greedy, twas ever thus, but shareholders demand to see a profit in order to invest, it also has implications on things like pensions.
    An example is Wood Group, they have reported a rise in profits but are still cuuting pay and laying off staff, make of that what you will, they are not alone.
    Energy companies are a good example of rising costs being passed on to consumers, very rare you hear of them absorbing any increase to benefit their customers.
    Britain has a poor track record of training and management, and education always being used as a political football and being tinkered round the edges with does not help.
    As always it all comes down to money and investment. (or lack of)

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Are you saying that these agencies who put migrant workers on these production lines are somehow diddling the system? Send your evidence to the DWP and let’s get an investigation going.
      People with learning disabilities are a separate (but related) issue to what you were discussing before. If you want to bring them in, we’ll have to discuss the demise of Remploy under the current government and the fact that only Labour has proposed any help for people with disabilities in the future.
      Apart from that, I tend to agree with you. Employers are notoriously bad at investing in their workforce, and notoriously quick to take profits for themselves.

      1. Jim Round

        It is difficult to get enough evidence together to report the agencies, but it has been well docomented about their preference of immgrant labour, a quick google search brings up many results.
        And even if you presented evidence to the DWP, on their current performance, do you think they would take any action?

  4. Keith Jackson

    I read an article, cant find it now where one of their own MP’s, Sarah Woolaston wrote to Cameron saying this policy should be dropped as it is not legal to force people to have treatment, and also as she wants the Tories to be more compassioned.
    Good for her but I doubt those at the top will take much notice.
    I think the article was on buzzfeed or somewhere.

  5. Bookmanwales

    Hmmm rather an interesting and (possibly informative post)

    Having followed the link shown in the above article then followed the link to a further article it seems Labour in 2009 had already included in their legislation provision for the sanctioning of those who did not undertake mandatory drug treatment or were indeed obese.

    The article goes further and says that the Tories decided to drop this measure in 2010 due to it’s lack of feasibility and advice from health professionals.

    It is shocking to find that Labour were the ones to actually propose these measures (and carried out pilots which went unreported ?) and even more shocking that the Tories didn’t actually make this known when they dropped the measures in 2010.

    Given this news ( if it is indeed true) and Labour’s introduction of the Work programme, sanctions and WCA regime it seems a vote for Labour could indeed be a case of out of the frying pan into the fire should they be successful in May’s election and continue the “austerity” regime.

    Maybe therein lies the reasons for the Labour Party;s silence on the sanction and WCA issues, they were originally intending the same or maybe even harsher, measures than the Tories have actually done so far.

    The associated article would certainly make one question how true Rachel Reeves promise to be “tougher on Welfare than the Tories” actually is and maybe the reason for why she has never been publicly put down for these statements by the Labour Party leaders.

    If the Labour party can go as far as to introduce legislation to sanction obese/drug addict unemployed(rather quietly it seems) and the Tories dropped it one has to wonder which is exactly the “nasty” party.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Of course you recognise that Labour did not enforce this policy that we’re told was enacted – and you also recognise that it would be utterly wrong to suggest Labour’s policy then has any relationship with Labour’s policy now, I hope.

      Perhaps it is not quite as shocking as you suggest that these matters went unreported back in the day, therefore. If people had been victimised, it would have been a different matter. We should all be grateful that the neoliberals in the Labour Party who put forward such policies have now left frontline politics.

      You must, of course, accept that Labour has long since admitted that the WCA as carried out under the last government and the current government is a bad idea; that it plans to end the Work Programme in favour of the Jobs Guarantee, and that it will put an end to sanction targets.

      It is also clear that Labour has absolutely no intention whatsoever of continuing any kind of austerity regime that was laid out by the Conservatives or the Coalition.

      Labour has NOT been silent on sanctions or the WCA – a Labour government would make drastic changes.

      Your comment about that oft-misused Rachel Reeves quote seems strangely familiar. Haven’t you used it before and had its wrongness explained to you? If not to you personally, you must have seen me explaining to others on this blog that she was not suggesting that Labour would be hard on benefit recipients. It seems strange that you continue to push the lie. Would you care to explain yourself?

      1. Bookmanwales

        The issue is not whether the Labour party used the legislation or not but tjhe fact they actually allowed the legislation to be passed in the first place. Had Labour won a majority would we already be using that nasty piece of legislation ??

        How you can defend Labour on the grounds they never used the legislation is beyond me, bearing in mind the stink when the Tories even mentioned it (even though they decided in 2010 not to use it either)

        Labour have indeed admitted the WCA in it’s current form is not fit for purpose but have never apologised for the fact they introduced it in it’s current form and also picked ATOS as the supplier.

        Labours pledge to end sanctions targets is not enough, they need to end sanctions altogether and offer alternatives for all not just a 6 month job guarantee and then back to the jobcentre you go.

        Rachel Reeves comments have been used by me before and as far as I am aware her comments were repeated many times by herself. I am not sure ( as she certainly uttered those words) what lie I am pushing ?

        Welfare, as far as I am aware, includes benefit claimants so when she said “we will be as tough on welfare” what part of welfare was she referring to ?

        If I remember rightly many voices were raised in concern over her comments for some time and you did indeed make some remarks over their meaning, which at this time I forget, but the point being at that time I was unaware (as probably many others were) that this piece of legislation had already been passed by Labour and thus puts a whole new perspective on that particular comment.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        No, the issue is whether anyone should let you dredge up historical Labour policies as though they were current and use them to persuade people to vote against their own best interests in May.
        We’re not “bearing in mind the stink when the Tories even mentioned” this policy either – the Tories, having ditched it for good reasons in 2010, want to resurrect it for bad reasons now.
        So you’re trying to attack Labour over a policy that the Tories want to enact. Don’t you think it would be better to attack the Tories for it instead?
        Wouldn’t it be better to lay blame where it is due – with the Tories who want to inflict this policy on the country?
        Regarding Rachel Reeves’ words, I thought you were a reader of this blog. Here is a relevant exchange from Hansard, when Green MP Caroline Lucas tried to use those words in exactly the way you did:
        Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion, Green); I was disappointed that Rachel Reeves, on taking up her post as shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, used the opportunity of her first interview to say that she would be tougher than the Tories on people on benefits.
        Kate Green (Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions); Stretford and Urmston, Labour); My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds West did not say that. She said that she would be tougher on welfare spending, not on people on benefits.
        You were trying to get people to believe the lie that she would be hard on benefit claimants. That is something she never said she would do.
        Now that you know the facts that “she said she would be tougher on welfare spending, not on people on benefits”, do we have your absolute assurance that you will never, ever, repeat that claim again?

      3. Bookmanwales

        Now we are being pedantic, the only way to be tougher on welfare spending is by cutting it and the only way to cut it is to either reduce the amounts paid or make it harder to claim, the end result is the same, those on benefits will suffer ( I am open to other ideas on how to be “tougher on welfare spending” without actually cutting it or affecting anyone ??)

        I am in no way trying to peddle the idea that anyone should vote Tory, LibDem or UKIP I am only too aware of the likely consequemces being in receipt of both DLA and working tax credits, for which I give due thanks to Gordon Brown of the Labour party

        Attacking the Tories for using legislation the Labour party introduced (and we will never know whether Labour would have used it or not) sounds to me a bit hypocritical as I consider it my duty to weigh up my potential vote depending on a partty’s policies and performance rather than slavish dedication regardless of how they perform or how they intend to treat people.

        I have never nor would I vote Tory, having been a victim of the 80’s rush to the bottom of the industialised world.and then having sat here for the last 5 years awaiting the envelope that says I will from now on be housebound due to my DLA being taken away.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        Rubbish. The best way to cut social security spending is get people into jobs that pay enough to provide a living for the employee – obviously.
        It would be hypocritical in the extreme to attack the Labour Party over a policy it never used, while leaving the Conservative Party to get on with implementing the same policy – obviously.
        If you’re not going to vote Tory, don’t support the Tories by using their policies as a stick to (unjustifiably) beat Labour.

      5. Bookmanwales

        The point is it was a Labour policy in origin not Tory, who implements the policy is irrelevant.

        Creating jobs is not being “tougher on welfare” it is job creation and should be touted as such. As you are probably aware the language used in making policy is as important as the policy itself.

        Improvements to the minimum wage and cutting zero hours contracts will cut the welfare bill but again are not being tougher on welfare but tougher on employment laws.

        Any party that introduces legislation attacking the weakest in society needs to be citicised regardless of your political affiliation, as it was Labour who introduced this legislation originally then I don’t consider it an unjustified attack.

      6. Mike Sivier Post author

        Labour never used this policy. Are you even sure they passed it into law? If not, then you’re on extremely thin ice. You’re saying Labour should be denigrated for something it never did, while the Conservatives should be left alone, despite the fact that they intend to do exactly the same thing for which you’re attacking Labour – who didn’t do it. And you think you’re justified in doing so. Oh dear.
        Re: “tough on welfare” – so now you’re attacking Rachel Reeves and Labour because you disagree with them on their use of language. That’s entirely your choice. I don’t disagree with you that the policy strands include job creation, improving the minimum wage and cutting zero-hours contracts, but they can all be placed under the umbrella of being “tough on welfare” without stretching the concept in any way at all.
        The more you tell us about your opinion on this, the more it seems you are trying to restrict Labour to your own narrow definitions. That’s not going to happen.

      7. Bookmanwales

        The legislation regarding drug / alcohol dependants to undergo mandatory treatment was passed by Labour under the Welfare Reform Act 2009 Part 1 Schedule 3. This Act also included compulsory testing for drug / alcohol abuse and made addicts liable to sanctions for failure to comply either with mandatory testing or mandatory rehabilitation.

        My comment was about your headline “Tories Welfare reform outsourced to the DM” I was merely pointing out that this legislation had already been passed by Labour and was neither a DM nor Tory idea. This information I only gleaned after following the link you provided to the original piece.

        I do indeed disagree with Labour on their use of language as do many Labour supporters. It cannot have escaped your notice that Labour lost a great deal of support for some of the comments they made in the vein of being tougher on welfare spending and continuing austerity.

        Placing job creation, minimum wage and zero hours contracts under the umbrella “tougher on welfare” is stretching things a little especially to justify Rachel Reeves continuing stance and comments.

        In fact if I am not mistaken you recently had a blog where plenty of commenters howled for her blood and resignation (if not sacking) from the Labour party because of her continued use of such language.

        One can support a political party without agreeing with every policy they introduce and one should not be afraid to criticise any party that makes policy that affects vulnerable people (whether they actually use it or not) regardless of whether or not they are your party of choice.

      8. Mike Sivier Post author

        If you’re arguing with the headline, then you’re arguing with Alex Little of alittleecon, who wrote it. I just excerpted and linked to it (can’t reblog on a pro WordPress site).
        The headline isn’t wrong, by the way. This is no longer Labour policy. Considering the original legislation was never put into practice, it is possible to argue that it never was. It is, however, a proposed Tory policy – and the alittleecon article proceeds from there.
        I’m surprised you’ve taken this to me, rather than going to the article’s author, though.
        Labour lost support from people who either intentionally misunderstood what was being said or were misled by others who wanted them to misunderstand. That goes for both benefits and austerity – look at the SNP who, we discover, pilloried Labour for agreeing to follow Coalition spending limits (often misreported as spending plans – not the same thing) for 2015-16 – while intending to do exactly the same thing.
        I’m not stretching anything at all – and, while I have issues with Rachel Reeves, I don’t waste time arguing with her over trivialities.
        One can, indeed, support a party without agreeing with every policy. Anyone who’s read this blog knows I differ with Labour’s leadership over several issues.
        You may be interested to know that Labour’s candidate in my constituency also has differences with the Labour leadership.
        One last point: ALL parties make policy that affects vulnerable people. The test is whether these people are affected for the better or the worse. In this case, Labour did not affect anybody for the worse.

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