Here we go again…
“The Treasury wants to continue to target welfare spending…. but there is no appetite any more to take the tough, robust measures that would genuinely bring the national budget back towards balance”. [Peter Oborn. Daily Telegraph. 26 June 2013]
Sometimes I’m not sure how far we’ve come as a society since the Poor Laws of the 19th Century …and the assertion that conditions within workhouses should be made worse than the worst conditions outside of the workhouse so that they served as a deterrent, whilst relief should only be available in the workhouse.
The deserving versus undeserving divide and rule tactic misses a number of key points:
- In some parts of the country the problem is a lack of jobs rather than a lack of effort on the part of jobseekers. Particularly in places that never recovered from the last recession.
- There remains an endemic problem with low-paid and low-skilled work in the UK, which traps some people in a low-pay no-pay cycle. Consequently the UK has a real and growing problem of in-work poverty, which now outstrips workless poverty – 6.1m people experiencing poverty live in a household where at least one person works.
- Meanwhile the UK’s failure to build enough homes pushes up housing costs, with a knock-on effect for the benefits bill. But this isn’t the only factor pushing up the cost of living. The rising cost of childcare, public transport, energy and fuel have all made it harder for families to make ends meet.
- And that’s before even looking at the growing proportion of the welfare bill taken up by pensions as our society ages and people live longer…..