The TUC believes that the lessons of the success of the Future Jobs Fund and the problems faced by the Work Programme provide strong arguments for the introduction of a job guarantee programme, initially limited to young people who have never been employed or who are long-term unemployed but gradually extended to other disadvantaged groups. Job guarantees should be real jobs, paid at least the minimum wage and with full employment rights to avoid exploitation and minimise the risk of displacing other workers. They should be limited to six months, so that participants are not trapped in a low value-added ghetto. At the same time, they should allow at least half a day a week for job search – applicants are far more likely to get another job if they apply whilst still working on their job guarantee job than after they have returned to unemployment. Because they are real jobs, the same benefit rules that apply to other jobs should also apply; claimants who turn down a job guarantee job without good cause should face benefit sanctions. Investment even only on the scale set aside for the Youth Contract would soon produce the strong results we saw with the Future Jobs Fund.
So the TUC believe that if a claimant turns down a job without “good cause” then they should face benefit sanctions. I don’t know who wrote this document but I have attended a fair few TUC and have heard Richard Exell (senior policy officer at the TUC) spout that line. And on one occasion I made a contribution criticising Exell’s argument and was pleased I got a rapturous applause from the audience. Benefit sanctions don’t work, they are punitive form of punishment. Exell/ TUC are siding with an ideology that believes people can’t be trusted so should be punished. Even if you oppose the overall ideology of the right (which Exell claims he does) supporting sanctions still puts you on the side of the right. Sanctions (and conditionality) are wrong and don’t work!
Contrary to the belief that sanctions are a deterrent coupled with the “workshy” ethos, many claimants have a number of valid reasons for turning down a job from ill-health, child care responsibilities and simply not wanting the job. Can’t claimants be allowed to pick and choose jobs!!
Benefit sanctions don’t work instead they create far more desperate situations and misery for people who are already just about existing, further poverty and people simply dropping out of the benefits system. TUC ought to be ashamed of supporting such a right-wing bullying ideology.
During the 1980s people thought unemployment was about shortcomings in economic policy along with the Tory government. Right ideologues created a reactionary theory called, “culture of dependency” and this links in to the idea that unemployment is about personal choice and nothing about austerity. People become unemployed when there’s a downturn in the economy, when the economy recovers unemployment drops back. If culture dependency was right what you would see would be continuous and sustained rise in unemployment. But that doesn’t happen. Unemployment tracks the changes in the economy. Culture of dependency has caught on massively along with the support from the media. And this theory taps into the view that sanctions are an ideological necessity. And it’s class divisive. Unfortunately the TUC is buying into this reactionary rubbish.
Trade union activists should put pressure on the TUC to drop their support for benefit sanctions as it goes against the principles of the labour movement. TUC is going with the divide and rule ethos.