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Welfare - is there a difference between New Labour and the Tories?

Andrew Fisher
5th October 2009 at 19:37

Today the Tories came out with some truly hideous policy on welfare:

1) They want to move 500,000 from incapacity benefit onto Jobseeker’s Allowance, cutting their benefit by £25 per week - the Sun reports they will assess 3,000 claimants per day

2) They want to privatise the delivery of welfare

3) They want to introduce workfare from six months.

New Labour welfare minister called this “callous”. Why? New Labour’s policies, in the Welfare Reform Bill nearly finished in Parliament are:

1) Move 1 million people off incapacity benefit - the Government claims they are assessing 10,000 claimants per week

2) Privatise the delivery of welfare

3) Introduce workfare for those unemployed more than a year

The fact of the matter is, New Labour has followed Tory welfare policy since it came to power: attack lone parents, blame the disabled and unemployed for their own situation and privatise the welfare state.

Maybe it’s the fact that the Tories are now taking their policies back - and with gusto - that Jim Knight finds “callous”.

If you want a truly humane response to this agenda, look no further than John McDonnell MP’s Guardian article on the Welfare Reform Bill

Tags: welfare reform bill (1) | welfare rights (1)

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on 8th October 2009 at 18:12, carlr said:

What’s the plan then Andrew?

on 11th October 2009 at 09:22, Andrew Fisher said:

Hi Carl,

The LRC has been campaigning hard against this agenda over the last year (see the ‘Stop Welfare Reform’ campaign news for more info).

Ultimately though there is a consensus between New Labour and the Tories on this and the Welfare Reform Bill will become an Act by the end of the month.

I think what we should be doing is trying to recast the debate as much as possible into one about welfare rights: an entitlement to a decent standard of living when sick or unemployed. Welfare was supposed to be a safety net, not a regime.

We have to make the arguments wherever and whenever we can - through trade unions, CLPs, at events, to newspaper letters pages, on blogs, etc. The LRC briefing ‘Workfare for the Poor, Welfare for the Rich’ has a lot of the facts and arguments.

There is a TUC conference on this next Monday too.

on 11th October 2009 at 17:49, carlr said:

I agree with this as far as it goes.

But having experienced the welfare state during periods of unemployment in the early 1990s and in the mid 2000s - I can say that in my working lifetime, the Employment Service has always been diabolical, even preceding the introduction of Jobseekers’ Allowance, which worsened the bureaucracy and harassment considerably.

What I’m saying is: I totally agree with the concept of a decent standard of living when sick or unemployed. But when did this ever apply? Up until the late 1970s?

By framing this as “Stop Welfare Reform” are we saying that we think the JSA - and that 55 pounds a week - are enough?

Or do we mean that we want “Welfare Reform for Human Beings” - to re-humanise and support people who are unable to find a decent job? Perhaps the information resources people need for their career are nowhere near a grim, security compound. They may be at the library, on the internet, in a college of FE, wherever.

By all means we must stop this authoritarian, vindictive Welfare Reform Bill. But we need to set out a new social reform agenda.

on 15th December 2009 at 22:58, Robert Naether said:

I lost the use of my legs broke my back and damaged my spinal cord, believe me being disabled under a labour government is like being in Germany in 1930’s. I have had a job interview when i was asked are you really disabled I said yes of course they said look tell us really are you disabled, I showed her my legs and she said well we cannot employ anyone at the moment.

I had a Police officer tell me he knows many people who are great actors they can play disabled are you one of those.

It is not for me to go around proving I’m disabled but I have to all the dam time, because of Blair scroungers remarks

on 30th December 2009 at 07:59, carlr said:

Absolutely appalling, but it doesn’t surprise me. This is the government that advises parents of graduates who are “stuck” at home, that they should hide the cheese! As if the lack of work and exorbitant rents can be overcome by a kind of tough love.

I read so often in the liberal media about this or that scheme, such as mortgage relief, but they are less keen to point out the actual amount that unemployment benefit amounts to. 60 pounds a week is unlivable, and nobody could possibly make this a base for looking for employment, especially when decent-paid jobs are very few and far between!

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