First it was proposed by the last government, now it’s being proposed by our dear friend, IDS. Workfare is back on the menu. Free labour for grubby capitalists. The unemployed are to be told to do something called unpaid ‘community work’ or face having their benefits cut. The Guardian reports,
The proposals, in a white paper on welfare reform to be unveiled this week, are part of a radical government agenda aimed at cutting the £190bn-a-year welfare bill and breaking what the coalition now calls the “habit of worklessness”.
The “habit of worklessness”. Now there’s an interesting phrase. We can add that phrase to “inter-generational worklessness” and “deserving and undeserving poor”.
Predictably, The Daily Mail is behind the whole idea. They even have a picture of – what looks like- a trio of idle youths outside a McDonald’s somewhere in Britain The youths are tucking in to their Big Macs and fries to sort of reinforce the ‘point’. “Look! Idle youths eating junk food on your taxes! How dare they”? Thing is, those youths could have been paid by a Mail journo to pose for the photo. Payment in Big Mac and fries. Standards must be slipping. The opening paragraph of the article says all one needs to know,
The feckless unemployed will be forced to take part in a punishing U.S.-style ‘workfare’ scheme involving gardening, clearing litter and other menial tasks for just £1 an hour in a new crackdown on scroungers.
“£1 an hour”? Why not force them into chain gangs while you’re at it?
You can see what’s happening here and it has little to do with communities. This is an exercise in exploitation. This reserve army of labour – as Marx referred to the unemployed – is to be mobilized for what purpose? To prove to the readers of the Mail and the Telegraph that the unemployed are working for their ‘keep’? Or is it the case that someone, or some company somewhere is set to make some form of profit off the back of this? What is a “community” in this particular sense anyway? What happens to the street cleaners and so on who are already on ultra-low wages? Will they be made redundant? Is this menial work meant to lift the spirits?
IDS once made the unfortunate but somewhat telling remark that “work will set you free”. Says it all really.