Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Queen to talk welfare reform?

There is speculation that one of the items in the Queens Speech which is delivered at the state opening of Parliament, will contain news about further welfare reforms in the UK.

A Professor Gregg of Bristol University recently produced a paper on welfare and it is expected the government will adopt some suggestions. I cannot imagine any of our academies producing quite this sort of stuff. He believes everyone should be planning to return to work - sole mothers from the time their youngest is one. At the moment the age after which a mother is expected to work is 16. It is going to drop to 12 and to 7 by 2010.

As for the unemployed, which there are comparatively far more of than here;

Unemployed people who do not turn up to meetings [work focussed interviews] should get a written warning for the first one missed, and lose a week's Jobseeker's Allowance for every time after that they did not follow their conditions.

After a fourth offence, they would be told to carry out community-based work like street sweeping and digging gardens if they were "deemed to be playing the system" and lose four weeks' Jobseeker's Allowance if they refused.

Professor Gregg said they should do "work equal" activities, such as spending all day in an office looking for jobs: "It would involve doing an equivalent 9-to-5 job search with someone looking over your shoulder to make sure you were not just on Facebook."

And from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions James Purnell,

...Mr Purnell welcomed them and said the "direction of travel" was right, although he said he would consult further on the issue of non-financial sanctions.

"The approach that virtually everyone should be doing something in return for benefits is the right one," he said.

But here's rub;

But his Conservative shadow Chris Grayling said: "I have lost count of the number of documents the government has published promising radical welfare reform in the past few years, but they never seem to get on with the job of delivering that reform."

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