Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The contradictory world of Universal Credit

In order that we don't all become deranged at everything, or indeed anything, that emanates from the DWP we should bear this in mind. Iain Duncan-Smith is ideologically driven, as are his cohorts in the Conservative Party. Common sense, human empathy, common decency and basic humanity are to all intents and purposes terra incognita to this crew. Duncan-Smith has created a parallel universe within the DWP where good is bad, day is night, right is wrong and light is dark. A world more suited to a Kafka novel.

The actions of the DWP over the past few years have had little or nothing to do with deficit reduction, despite the vicious cuts. Indeed ESA figures are on the rise while JSA figures are on the decline. Employment may be on the increase. Yet the number of people in work needing to claim housing benefit has increased – it has actually doubled since 2010.

By forcing people into non-jobs and increasing benefits’ sanctioning it is easy to show an increase in employment and a drop in unemployment. Yet when these figures are closely scrutinised it is discovered that many of the ‘jobs’ created are on zero hours contracts; that disabled people are being driven into bogus self-employment as this is said to be the only way we’ll work; and then there are the millions of workers who cannot find enough work to properly live, the underemployed.

This final group could also fall foul of Duncan-Smith’s new policy of in-work benefits’ recipients being sanctioned for not finding more hours work. The fact that they are strenuously seeking more employment is irrelevant. That they actually want to work more hours but cannot find work that isn’t there is beside the point.

Our punitive benefits system, and there will be none more so that universal credit when it is fully implemented, serves only to punish. There is no leeway, no slack offered within this miserly credit that would take into account the various, often conflicting, factors involved in job seeking.

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