Sir, There are serious weakness in the flawed concept of society which is pouring out of 10 Downing Street. It is very Judgemental. And it contains no mention or practice of economic justice.
Contempt for British society has covered pages of newsprint. Britain is broken; we don’t volunteer enough; there is a dependency culture among the unemployed, and a sick-note culture In the civil service. But the unemployed need encouragement rather than demonisation. Of course, the absolutely poor unemployed depend on the taxpayer to prevent their starving and to pay the rent: with means-tested welfare, such a policy illustrates the meaning of the common good.
Research has shown that people would far rather work than draw the dole; and of course they should be willing to look for work. But unemployment benefits become increasingly valueless as they are cut and the prices of food and other essentials escalate, rendering some people unfit to work, owing to debt and stress.
Low pay and bad management are known to result in labour turnover and increased sickness absence. It was the accountancy company KPMG that wrote the business reasons for the Living Wage for London and then paid it to the company’s cleaners; it is refused by the Government for the civil service.
The treatment of poor tenants recieving housing benefit takes us back to the poll tax. Both parties of government since 1979 are responsible for the catastrophic consequences of the 1980s, deregulation of lending and the abolition of rent controls, which were exploited by irresponsible bankers, who nearly destroyed the economy in 2008. Money flooded into a housing market in short supply, forcing up prices and rent. Housing benefit exploded to more than £21 billion a year.
It was not the fault of the improverished tenants; but they are carrying the pain of enforced eviction from thier homes and rent arrears that they cannot pay from poverty-level Jobseeker’s Allowance, owing to the cuts in the housing benefit; the poll tax also reduced Jobseeker’s Allowance.
The Prime Minister claims that it is wrong for the state to fund unemployed people to live to a higher standard than those who go out to work. This is nonsense when the state has persistently failed to devise any policy for affordable housing since Harold Macmillan was at No.10 in 1957. Local authorities placed homeless people in available accomodation because they, quite rightly, had a legal duty to do so. A secure home is a basic necessity.
It will take a major campaign about Clause 68 of the Welfare Reform Bill, in which htis draconian policy is legislated for, to put this injustice right.
Rev Paul Nicolson.