Friday, 5 June 2015

Yesterday Once More: Tougher sanctions are needed

This just in...

'Welfare reforms which will compel lone parents and the disabled to attend repeated job advice interviews or forfeit benefit will confront head-on the "poverty of expectation" sidelining thousands of Britain's poorest people, the government insisted yesterday...

'Ministers argue that it is reasonable to make a job advice interview a condition of claiming benefits, since many claimants are unaware of support the state can provide to help them avoid the poverty trap. Tougher sanctions are needed, they believe, to encourage the one million lone parents on income support and 2.8 million people on disability benefits back into work...

'He added: "It is the poverty of ambition and poverty of expectation that is debilitating. If you are going to crack that, you have got to confront it and do some things which people think are tough..."

'Mencap and the mental health charity Mind yesterday claimed compulsory interviews would leave millions of vulnerable disabled people in fear of losing benefits.

'There was anger from disability campaigners over plans to tighten the criteria for incapacity benefit, which ministers suspect is abused as an early retirement subsidy. Campaigners fear many genuinely disabled people will no longer qualify...

'The Tories accused the government of "talking tough" but not "acting tough". Shadow social security secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the whole success of the welfare-to-work programme depended on new jobs being created. But new employment legislation was boosting the burden on business.'

- extracted from Lucy Ward, '"Harsh" rules to benefit poor',
Guardian 11 February 1999
Note: The 'He' who is quoted in the third paragraph is Alistair Darling, then social security secretary in Tony Blair's Labour government.

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