The finance chief at Blackburn with Darwen Council is to consider more deeply the plan to turn a former bus depot into what could be a 21st-century workhouse, it seems, after a Vox Political commenter raised concerns.
Andy Kay said he did not disagree that, although a few people could be taken off the street by the scheme, it could be setting a precedent for the government to say anyone who claims housing, unemployment or sickness benefit must work in a workhouse or be homeless, in conversation with commenter Helen Pay.
“With what the government is doing already, this idea isn’t far-fetched,” she told This Blog.
“Andy didn’t know if the homeless people were going to be paid wages – but the minimum wage for a young person he looked up and is something crazy like £4. Would many people choose to sort recycling for £4 an hour?
“He also said about accomodation being paid for at housing benefit rates. So when I asked if these homeless people could then be paid the minimum wage and be topped up by the council paying housing benefit – which would be paid to the charity – to live on a recycling site, his attitude completely changed. He hadn’t considered this.”
She told us she had also found it useful, when Mr Kay said the bottom line was to help homeless people, to quote an idea she had submitted to the Royal British Legion: “To supply accommodation to homeless people that involved zero profit being made and was purely about helping people.”
She pointed out: “The ‘charity’ website of Recycling Lives even talks about these homeless people being farmed out to other companies and those companies paying the wages they would have paid – to Recycling Lives.”
Ms Pay added: “I also mentioned personal responsibility for future events – which he seemed to take on board.
“I said I hoped that if he investigated and found Recycling Lives was taking advantage of people that I would read in a newspaper article that Andy Kay had been a whistle blower and put a halt to this scheme.”
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