I sense desperation – an attempt to play to the Tory benefit-bashing gallery.
Rishi Sunak has said he will be “much tougher” on how the UK’s benefits system operates if he becomes prime minister as he suggested he would force claimants to take jobs when they become available.
How does he plan to do that? By forcing people with long-term illnesses and disabilities into jobs that will kill them faster than the current fashion to simply knock them off the books for no good reason?
Remember, in 2015 I forced the then-Coalition government to admit that, between 2011 and 2014, 2,400 people had lost their lives within two weeks after being told they were too fit to be on sickness benefits. It seems clear that such claims were false.
The government of the day said it was impossible to say how many (thousands?) of people had died after that two-week period because it does not keep such statistics. We know that many have died, though, because we have seen many news stories of such cases.
Alternatively, is he planning to force able-bodied claimants into work – people who, evidence shows, generally try to get out of the system as soon as possible in any case?
Most people, who are able to work, in fact do their level best to get it.
In any case, the matter may be taken out of his hands: firstly, the UK has just recorded its highest intake of foreign workers since Brexit – mostly from beyond the European Union.
The rise has been welcomed by the Bank of England, whose economists had feared that a shortage of people available to work would push up wages and aggravate the recent jump in inflation.
This suggests that everybody from the UK, who is available to work, is already doing so.
Secondly, the dire economic situation the Tories have created means economists are also predicting a recession lasting at least a year, that will trigger many job losses.
The employment opportunities Sunak envisages simply won’t be available.
Still, one can hardly accuse Sunak of making sense on the subject.
At a leadership hustings in Belfast, he said: “Right now, there are more people claiming unemployment benefit than there are job vacancies in the economy. Just think about that for a second. And that is happening under a Conservative government. That is clearly not right, something has gone wrong.
“If there are hours to do, if there is a job going, people should have to take the job as opposed to just being able to stay on benefits.”
But if there are more people unemployed than there are job vacancies, then there aren’t hours to do; there isn’t a job going!
I wonder how many of the Conservative Party’s paltry 130,000-160,000 membership have the critical faculties to realise that he’s talking absolute pish?
Too few, I fear.
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