Saturday 25 April 2009

Going To Hell In A Handcart Express Train…

I wonder how Jack Jones, that ‘quietly spoken, articulate man’ who died on Tuesday after a life-long career in the Union fighting for the rights of workers, would regard the ambitions of some of the youth of today, as outlined by Alice Miles in her ‘Times’ run up to the Budget:
Neets (young people not in employment, education or training) will find themselves at the centre of the political battleground today as Gordon Brown unveils his “Budget for jobs” .
Well, we know now what the so-called ‘Budget for Jobs’ is worth, don’t we…?

But the issues she raised are worth looking at in depth, and not just for their supposed connection to the Budget:
What do you do with Carl: 21 years old, still living at home with his six younger siblings, never had a job, abusive to his mother - and angry that the housing association sees no reason to give him his own place? I met him recently in Tonbridge, Kent, his language a barrage of curses, his behaviour bordering deranged.

Carl did not even sign on, a new one on me: somebody so utterly lethargic he couldn't even be bothered to claim benefits, presumably in case he was expected to do something at some point in return.
I think we can figure out for ourselves where his income (meagre as it may be) comes from, can’t we….?

If Carl is typical of a growing number of these ‘Neets’ (and I fear he is), this isn’t just a financial problem, it’s a social one.
There is a slice of society that does not want to work. Benefits staff say that the problem is greatest among the young, who unlike older workers are unembarrassed about signing on.
Because in the UK, we don’t ‘do’ shame anymore. Wasn’t that supposed to be a good thing, according to all the experts?

And it’s a problem that is growing:
In the eight years to 2008, at a time of rising employment, the proportion of under-25s who were unemployed rose across both sexes and age groups, 16-18 and 19-24.

Ministers believe that only a small minority of these do not want to work. They point to evidence that relatively few claimants are “sanctioned” by having their benefits payments cut if they fail to look for work.
Ah, of course. Let’s fall back on the statistics, after all, figures can’t be manipulated, can they?
But the number of sanctions does not begin to represent the number of loafers.

Sanctioning is viewed by benefits staff as an extreme step.
Because the staff see the unemployed as their reason for existence, of course! No-one wants to jeopardise their own employment prospects by allowing their herd of carefully-tended human cattle to stray off the reservation…

Plans are afoot to farm out the management of these ‘Neets’ to private companies with targets for getting them into work, presumably in the hope that they will prove more efficient. But they won’t, and they won’t for the same reasons (a reduction in their earning potential) and for one, crucial, overriding one:
What is missing from Carl and Shane and Paul, and from the single mothers who believe they cannot possibly work while they have to pick Lauren up from school, is ambition and determination - and those are hard to subsidise.
And even harder to put back into a generation, once your ‘progressive’ social policies have bred them out…

And don’t hope for a better handle on this burgeoning underclass from the Tories:
Ministers will focus today not on the unwilling but on the 88 per cent of benefits claimants who they believe are willing workers. The Tories address a similar target group with their new master's degrees, and apprenticeships, and their proposal for street education youth workers. Look out, from the Government, for pledges to local authorities and businesses to subsidise heavily the creation of new posts specifically for Neets or longer-term unemployed, to the tune of far more than the £2,500 at present on offer.

It could be up to half the £12,000 minimum wage salary for a full-time job; a subsidy for a job rather than a benefit, although at twice the cost to the taxpayer (and more than that if you consider that the council taxpayer may be funding the other half).
And all of those will fail to attract the likes of Carl and Shane and Paul into these new ‘opportunities’ for the same reason.

They don’t want to work, and there is no social stigma anymore about being unemployed.

And it’s not just a financial disgrace to allow this state of affairs to continue. It’s a big, big problem for the future of all areas of our society to allow a generation to grow up feeling that they owe society nothing, while ‘the State’ owes them everything.

Anyone doubting this should read mummylongleg’s cautionary tale of her recent A&E experience. These are the inevitable consequences of allowing the rise in the numbers of disaffected, unemployable young people who have nothing to do but drink, fight and screw for amusement.

The ‘Guardian’ obituary says of Jack Jones:
Despite the immense power he wielded, Jones remained a modest figure. He remained in his council flat in Denmark Hill in south London and turned down invitations to go into the House of Lords.
What a contrast to today’s ‘what can I get for free?’ generation…


Anonymous said...

I still think I can pin some of the blame about todays dependancy culture onto Jack.
In my current work I now regularly visit the people described (and I'm not a social worker or anything like that) and because they know that I am going to help them without them having to do anything about it themselves they're as nice as pie to me. In my previous job they'd try and punch me, throw me down the stairs and set the dogs on me.
I even get a pass through the other ming mongs and their Staffys as I climb the stairs to their housing assocication/council hovels. All smoke, even the ones on oxygen and asthma medication, all are on benefits and there is always one or two teenagers lying on a knackered soga watching jeremy Kyle on a huge plasma TV. All this nonsense about apprenticieships etc. These kids won't get out of bed to start work at 8am or earlier for 8 hours unless they can get a ridiculous amount of munny they've dreamt up in their heads. All they have to do is get down the post office once a week! There needs to be a form of compulsion to get these people off their arses and out doing something that justifies the state paying them some money to live. That plus proper hard effective policing accompanied by the courts making them serve the full statutory sentences will also help - therefore a new very large prison building programme needs to start. That'll help the building trade? Down in Hastings yesterday, lovely warm day, the pubs seemed busy, all the outside tables full. Who was patronising these failing establishments....yep!

Dr Melvin T Gray said...

The temptation to defend a non-existent National pride is quelled by a quick reality check. We should all plead the fifth, were such a convenience to hand in a Constitution catering for all emergencies and embarrassments, Julia.

JuliaM said...

"Down in Hastings yesterday, lovely warm day, the pubs seemed busy, all the outside tables full. Who was patronising these failing establishments....yep!"

Take trip to a supermarket like Asda or Tesco durting the working day. Used to be, you'd see the elderly, disabled or mums with small children shopping, in the main.

Increasingly, it's able-bodied singles and couples, often with kids (several) in tow, even during term time. It's impossible to avoid drawing the obvious conclusions.

DJ said...

You just know that whoever deals with this - state bodies or private sector - charmers like Carl are going to go into the big pile labelled 'Too Hard' whilew they pick the low-hanging fruit, like harassing a twenty-two-year veteran with arthritis and PTSD.

Unknown said...

Take a leaf out of President Clinton's book. Time limited benefits.

Inform everyone that from this moment they will be allowed to claim benefits for a maximum of 10 years. That's it. No excuses. When the 10 years allowed are up, no more benefits.

This way we don't penalise those who for no fault of their own need to claim, (often towards the end of their working life).

And everybody has to pay in to the system because when your benefits run out and you have no money you will have to find a job.

I suppose we could always reintroduce the Workhouse for those who still don't realise that Yes, we really do mean it. We don't want penniless chavs starving on the streets because they'd just turn to (even more) crime. So those unable to show that they can support themselves should find themselves in an institution one step away from a prison with every incentive to sort themselves out.

I wouldn't even waste money chasing after them to get themselves a job. So that would be fewer benefits staff required as well.