Sunday, January 30

Benefit Conditionality

A good article on why tying welfare benefits to conditionality is good. But the argument that this cannot be done in a recession is wrong. The basic concept is that if you are offered a job, then you need to take it up or lose benefits. Fair point. But what’s that got to do with the recession? If and only if a job is offered, then you get into this issue. Even if ONE person out of the millions out of work gets work over benefits, then that is a good step, no? I understand the argument that the job has to pay more than the benefits otherwise this argument falls down but overall I dont understand why there is an issue? I quote:

"A lost generation”; “a wasted generation”; “a generation on the scrap heap” – those are some of the reactions to the news that youth unemployment has risen to nearly one million. And it is not hard to understand why. Unemployment at any time of life can be a disaster, but it can have particularly pernicious effects on the young, whose habits of work have not yet been formed: if a youngster spends a long time out of work and on benefits, he or she may never develop the discipline and determination necessary to seek and hold down a job.

Christine Snell runs Windmill Hill Fruit Growers, a soft fruit farm in Herefordshire. She has more than 300 people working on her farm in the summer, and she needs to employ at least 30 even during the winter months. The work is ideal for youngsters because experience is not necessary: all you need is a degree of physical fitness and the ability to turn up on time.

How many of her workers are English? Just one. She recruits almost the whole of her workforce abroad, mostly from Bulgaria and Romania.

“I desperately want to recruit locally,” she explains. “Every few months, I place ads in an attempt to attract local workers. The response to my most recent ad was typical. I got 17 replies. When I explained what was required – five days a week, eight hours a day, with wages of £6.50 an hour – only two of them were willing to work for me. The others dropped out either because they didn’t like the look of the work, or because I explained that I needed their National Insurance number in order to pay them. They wanted cash – they said if they weren’t paid in cash, they would lose their benefits, which they were eager to keep.” Mrs Snell told them she would not be complicit in an attempt to defraud taxpayers. That was enough to put those potential employees off.

“Of the two that agreed to start work,” she continues, “one didn’t turn up, and the other gave up after a week. The unemployment rate around here is high, and there are a lot of youngsters at the local job centre. But the truth is that none of them seem interested in taking the jobs that are on offer. I absolutely don’t like recruiting abroad, not least because it increases my costs: I have to get all the contracts and health and safety documents translated, and I have to find accommodation for all the foreign workers. But what else can I do? Believe me, if there were English youngsters around here willing to do the work, I would hire them like a shot!”

this was sad

But the one nationality you almost never find waiting on your table or tending the bar is someone from Britain. Owners of bars and restaurants say that the reason they don’t employ young Brits is straightforward: too many of them are unreliable, unwilling to work hard and to accept that you can’t be rude to customers.

And then this warning:

Whether it would actually ensure that they created more jobs is, of course, another matter. But even economists are agreed that when the job market picks up, the first section of the British population to benefit will be the young, because they are first in the queue for new jobs.

Providing, that is, that better qualified and more enthusiastic immigrants do not take them first.

Shocking waste. We don't have the gumption to deal with these things although after the economic disaster of the Labour government, I have slightly higher hopes for the coalition. And all this while, immigration grows to cater for this gap, thereby pissing off just this group of feckless feral youth who flock to the EDL and BNP. And the governments don't do anything about it.

update: Here is an updated article from the same newspaper.

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