A great evil spawned in ghetto-land
Posted by Fraser at 9 41 PM on Saturday, October 31
THE biggest evil in Britain today is welfare dependency. And if you think that’s an exaggeration, consider this:
Britain is one of the richest countries on the planet. But welfare ghettoes are incubating heartbreaking poverty.
Knife crime is high, life expectancy low. A boy born in central Rochdale is likely to die younger than one in India, Iraq or Iran.
Same for a boy in Byker, Newcastle. Or Clairville, Middlesbrough. All neighbourhoods scarred by welfare dependency.
It’s an expensive business, all this poverty. Paying six million people not to work costs an absolute bomb.
And no, it’s not about the recession. Right now, more than a million on benefits have not worked for TWELVE YEARS.
There are almost half a million people under 35 who are on incapacity benefit, deemed unable to work.
We are writing people off. Leaving them to rot in council houses, while asking immigrants to do the jobs.
Why do so many foreigners come? To fill jobs that British people won’t do (or used to do before they emigrated).
So much of our ‘broken society’ problems — drugs, street violence — can be traced to a welfare ghetto.
And no politician will spring the welfare trap because it’s regarded as the toughest, dirtiest job in politics.
Tough love is hard. You need to say to people: “Get a job, or we’ll take away your benefits”.
Get it right — as the Americans did — and poverty will plunge. Get it wrong, as Britain does, and the problem is huge.You get social segregation, where those on benefits slowly live in their own world of dole. They tend not to vote, so are quickly forgotten by politicians.
Before he was elected, Tony Blair vowed to change all this.Transform welfare in Britain as Bill Clinton had in America.
But he chickened out as soon as disabled protesters chained themselves to railings in Westminster.
At least Blair tried, unlike Thatcher. It was her government that piled people into incapacity benefit in the first place.
Recently, Labour has made brave moves, especially under John Hutton and James Purnell. Both have resigned, of course, because the Labour Party is in the process of committing a slow, political suicide.
Yet, right now, on welfare reform and healthcare, I’d say Labour has the edge over the Tories as they go further on single mothers.
Yet neither party will embrace a simple, urgently-needed reform: To guarantee work always pays.
Yvette Cooper says that work pays for “pretty much” everyone. The words “pretty much” mask an admission.
Consider a young bloke on the dole. Right now he gets £96 a week via Jobseekers, housing benefit and what have you.
Say he goes to work in a shop for five hours a week at six quid an hour. His income rises to just £101. Why? Because while he earns £30, he loses £25 of benefits. So he’s working five hours for just five quid.
Say he doubles his shift to TEN hours. Then his income stays at £101 because he loses the Jobseekers’ Allowance.
And if he TREBLES his hours to 15 hours a week, he loses even more benefits and takes home £106 week.
Do we need to spell it out further? This means his “work pays” an effective rate of 66p an hour.
What idiot would do that? Not me. I’d stay at home with the JSA and Sky Plus. So, I suspect, would Yvette Cooper.
This is why I hate the word “scrounger”. People respond to incentives — and for too many, there’s no incentive to work.
It’s not people’s laziness that’s the problem, it’s government incompetence.
They simply don’t understand their own system.
Little wonder. The UK welfare system has 51 different payments, explained by 14 manuals over 8,900 pages.
The complexity has created a net in which millions of British people are now trapped. Freeing them takes effort.
At first it was simple. In the post-war years the benefit system would end the “giant evil” of worklessness.
Now, it bankrolls worklessness. The welfare state is incubating the very “giant evil” it was set up to destroy.
That’s why we don’t just need welfare reform.
We need to tear up the whole rotten system and start again.