Thursday, 1 March 2012

‘Workfare’ – Modern-day Slavery?

There has been rather a large amount of controversy involving the UK Government’s welfare-to-work scheme or ‘workfare’ as it has become known.  The major problem seems to be that it is viewed by some as modern day slavery and I have to agree with that group.  That said, I’m all in favour of getting people back into work and a ‘workfare’ scheme seems a good way to do it, however, I believe that a day’s work should be deserving of a day’s pay and not a pittance as the Government wants.
The Government wants to make it the case that people currently on benefits should find that work is the better option, ‘making work pay’, so that they are not sitting around costing the taxpayer their hard earned tax money.  This is an admirable idea and one worth pursuing if a suitable scheme can be created. There are smarter men than me on the case, I suspect, but I don’t think that any of them have even considered the suggestion I am about to make.  If the Government truly wants to ‘make work pay’ then why isn’t their ‘workfare’ scheme structured so that the benefit claimant can see that work really does pay in no uncertain terms by ensuring that, for the term of the work experience placement, the claimant is paid at the national minimum wage.  During their placement, their benefit will be suspended; this means that they are not costing the taxpayers any money and are, in fact, contributing financially to the economy through the payment of Income Tax and National Insurance.  At the end of the placement, they will either be offered a job if they have performed well or will return to claiming benefits awaiting a new work experience placement.  Simple.
The problem of people dropping out of the scheme would disappear because the claimants would be getting a decent wage for their labours and it is most likely going to end up providing a greater incentive for claimants to perform better in the placement because they are not being exploited.
Let us not forget that the national minimum wage was set because it was the minimum hourly payment deemed necessary to provide a reasonable standard of living for an individual so, surely, work experience placements should pay that amount or be considered as nothing but exploitative slavery.
Until next time…

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