THE GRAPEVINE! news, comment & a bit of gossip, Welfare to Work

The Solution to making the work programme work!!

Whilst it is true that individuals could do much more to help themselves out of poverty. Very rarely is poverty self inflicted: it is usually the result of circumstances beyond an individual’s control.

Poverty, however does not occur or remain in isolation but it is usually exacerbated by socio-economic conditions including a lack of jobs – and where there are jobs – they are low-paid, short-term, part-time, unreliable and insecure. Individuals are likely to spiral into increased dependency and ultimately intergenerational unemployment ensues which further excludes, compounds and reinforces their individual and collective position. The myth is that the poor contribute very little to society:  actually; the converse is true: many people living in poverty do make important contributions through caring for the elderly, disabled, looking after the children of friends and family and volunteering. As I discussed in previous postings, our dysfunctional benefit system fails to support these and other people when they wish to transit into work.

In addition to the fact that people trying to move into work only keep a few pennies in the pound from what they earn, the costs of getting to and from work simply compounds the problem.

This does not even begin to account for those for whom work is just not viable due to health concerns and also because of their other familial responsibilities – which have financial implications to family and which has so far saved the state money…..

…yes I know…. we only hear about the costs and the scroungers …. not about the so called benefit louts who are in fact saving money…   .

What do I recommend?

If we accept that people living in poverty do wish to contribute to their communities then I propose that in addition to simplifying the benefit system, increasing the earnings disregard, tapering benefit payments as proposed by Centre for Social Justice, and supporting start-up and micro businesses, that through the Community Allowance scheme the unemployed would be allowed to take on small amounts of paid community work without losing benefits.

Participants would be permitted to register for a maximum of 52 weeks. Maximum earnings on top of benefits over the year would be capped at £4,469 or the equivalent of up to 15 hours a week on the minimum wage. Participants would be paid the minimum wage or more depending on the kind of work available and their skill base.Community Allowance.

I think this could be the answer to making the Work Programme work!

12 months on Community allowance in addition added to the cost paid to providers is a win win: everyone benefits and the Treasury saves.

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