Wednesday, 13 November 2013

IDS simply isn't working - For the Working Poor

The rhetoric has started to appear in the Mail, a fleeting sentence in the House of Commons, a whole passage in the terms of Universal Credit. It's my turn. They're coming for us. We constitute a whole army, not just a battalion. We arguably will be the most controversial arm of Welfare Reform. Stand up the part time Working Poor.

The Mail (quick to demonise most sections of society who are poor) wasted no time in running an article on a family with 9 children whose parents both work part time about 20 hours a week each. That equates to over 1 full time job which is not enough in the Tory vision of "everyone must work til they drop" UK. Both parents had saved hard to take their family on their first ever holiday. But the DM's craftily worded article made this out to be the wrong thing to do due to the size of the family. The parents wages were not mentioned, the Mail took care not to discuss what they earnt for their  labour. Instead it focused on the amount of child benefit, the volume of top up working tax credits etc. There was no mention of course of possible help if a Living Wage were to be introduced. Just paragraph after paragraph of hate against this working couple and raging about more hours being worked.

The House of Commons debated the bedroom tax and its repeal tabled by Labour. Heather Wheeler Tory MP for South Derbyshire screamed at Labour that her husband who sits on the council has engaged with residents and found they "only" have to pay £11.68p extra a week to keep their "spare room". This was found by doing a few hours more work each week apparently. These words were echoed time and again by Ann Main, David Davies and Margot James. "Work some more" is their mantra, like jobs are falling off trees into the laps of unfortunate part time workers.

1.46 million people who are currently working part time and thus claiming working tax credits are people who want to work full time but can't find full time jobs. Here in N Wales, full time permanent work where you are not laid off seasonally or are on zero hours contracts is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Thus those who would welcome full time work but have to accept part time work have no stability, are not welcomed by landlords or banks for mortgages as their future is uncertain. The answer by the Government is to blame the Working Poor and use throwaway phrases of " just find a few hours more a week work" and that will be the answer to the problem!

Wrong on all accounts. This Coalition presides over the greatest period of Austerity in centuries. Low paid part time work is now the norm. While Tories like to think part time work is confined to mums looking to earn a bit of "pin money" or while away the hours of boredom from 9-3pm while the kids are in school, the reality is that part time work is all that's out there to find. And if your shifts constantly change, especially in part time retail, it is damned nearly impossible to take on a second part time job that fits in with the changing hours of the first. But then employers, spurred on by the government are happy with this unstable relationship with employees. Hiring and firing at will and instability for the future are great for them.

But fear, like the fear that stalks the poor, disabled and sick daily is coming to the working poor now. Under Universal Credit and the DWP "Minimum income Floor" part time workers will be expected to earn £11k per year. Failure to do so will be a call to the job centre and a period of time given to increase hours worked and income raised or tax credits will be cut and sanctions imposed. For those like myself who are self employed, the threat is that unless you raise your hours and raise your income you will cease to be self employed, thrown off working tax credits put onto JSA until you find employment etc. The whole merrygoround then starts again as if you gain part time employment you will be forced to raise hours..... And so it goes on.

I only mention him in the title of this piece but it is obvious. Iain Duncan-Smith your ideas simply are not working. From the crazy bedroom tax where people who cannot afford the extra money for the spare bedroom are then "downsized" to a smaller home in the private sector which then increases their rent and thus the amount of Housing Benefit someone has to claim  ; to the idea that those who currently work are not working enough and full time jobs are as easy to get as claiming £5.8k for energy expenses on an MPs 2nd home.

It is indeed as several Labour MPs  have commented "The Economics of the Madhouse". But then IDS is the man in charge of the asylum.