YESTERDAY in the House of Commons the Tories were glorying in the fact that their votes will make sure that Labour’s bill to force single parents and the disabled into work, or else remove their benefits, is passed.
They claimed it was a Tory measure and their ‘yes’ votes would counter the ‘no’ votes of large numbers of Labour MPs, who intend to vote against.
Labour’s slashing attack on the poorest people in the country is taking place at exactly the same time as Labour has spent over £100bn saving bankrupt banks and bankers.
It has agreed to fully guarantee the parasitic and luxurious existence of the banking class, against the ravages of a crisis for which the banks are responsible, but which is destroying the lives of millions of workers.
Its preferred target is to force benefit claimants, including single mothers with children above one year old, and the disabled into work or lose benefit, to take at least one million people off benefit.
The cynical measure is designed to try and make sure that the cost of benefits for the extra one million people who will be on the Jobseekers Allowance by Xmas 2009 are paid for by getting the poorest people off benefit, and reducing them to destitution.
Unemployment is rising rapidly by thousands of people a week, but the unemployed are to be driven out to find non-existent jobs, creating the position where there will be ‘job auctions’ with the person prepared to accept the lowest wages getting the job, thus completely undermining the minimum wage.
Minister Purnell said the proposals mean that everyone on benefits, apart from the severely ill or disabled, some carers and parents of children under one, should either be actively looking for, or preparing themselves for work.
The government’s plans include penalties for people who turn down job offers or interviews imposed by voluntary and private businesses, who will be paid to police the unemployed and to put them onto Workfare schemes for which they will be only getting their benefit.
Purnell’s bill is about providing big business with an endless supply of the cheapest Workfare labour, that will effectively undermine and put an end to the national minimum wage.
Labour is not in favour of the disabled working for trade union rates. It has closed down scores of Remploy factories which were providing the disabled with real work and training, and producing commodities that were in demand, while paying trade union rates.
Purnell told MPs that he would be using the ‘invest to save’ technique. This ‘enables private and voluntary sector organisations to pay for support to get people back to work from subsequent benefit savings.’
He added: ‘But we will also go further and faster with the next wave of welfare reform. Today we confirm the first steps to implementing Paul Gregg’s recommendations which would see virtually everyone given support to prepare for, or return to, work in return for their benefits.’
Outlining the method of compulsion to be used Purnell added: ‘claimants will be subject to Gregg’s “progression to work” conditionality and mandated to take steps to get back to work.
‘And we outline plans to pilot conditionality for workless parents of younger children than currently planned. . .
‘We also put forward new fairer benefit rules for problem heroin and crack users. The new rules will include an allowance for claimants who are drug addicts, in place of other benefits they would normally receive, that demands they address their problem or face sanctions.’
One wonders what sanctions Purnell will dream up for use against drug addicts.
There is only one remedy for this attack on the disabled and single parents by Labour and its Tory allies. This is for the trade unions to call a general strike to get Purnell’s Bill scrapped.