Thursday 11 November 2010


Let me say at the outset that I am a strong believer that people who can work, should work, and that those who cannot, should be supported at a decent standard of living.

Whether people are unable to work because of advancing years or because of illness, pain, disability physical or mental, we, as a decent society, one which helps people of other countries and advises them on human rights and decency, should look after them to a high standard.

This makes me sound like I’m Mr Iain Duncan Smith in the flesh, but of course that is where we part company.

IDS has said that his reforms will make it always pay to take a job. And because, of course, he would not be willing to insist on a liveable minimum wage, that means reducing benefits. This is roughly what Mrs Thatcher did in the 1980s, removing the earnings related supplement and then reducing benefit entitlement based on National Insurance payments to 6 months instead of a year. Then when she had managed to reduce the level of benefits, she abandoned the wages councils and allowed companies to pay as little as they liked. (The state of course had to take up the slack with housing benefits and supplementary benefit, but that’s another story.)

Mr Duncan Smith said a new Universal Benefit would lift 350,000 children and 500,000 working age adults out of poverty, while the number of “workless households” would be cut by 300,000.

Super. Let’s just make this very clear. At minimum wage of £5.93 per hour, working a full week of 37.5 hours, this brings in a top line income of £222.38. That is an annual salary of £11,563.

An internationally recognized way of calculating poverty is to mark it at 66.6% of the average wage. (Yes, I know it’s flawed, but it’s the best we have, and poverty can be described as comparative.) The average wage has dropped by £2,500 over the last year to £25,543. That would make the point below which one drops into poverty by UK standards (on which I assume Mr DS is working) at £17,011.

To take people out of poverty, without recourse to benefits, Mr Duncan Smith will need to provide full-time jobs at somewhere in the region of £9 per hour. Is that going to happen?

IDS insists that he will be able to cut £1 billion from the amount that is taken, either fraudulently or in error, which is marvellous, and I commend him for this. But I think that without any doubt he has exaggerated the anticipated results of his policies in order to overshadow the downside of all of this which is that, in the hands of target driven, under trained, underpaid clerks on the front line, and managers with precious little idea of how to manage, this will bring untold misery to many totally innocent, poor people struggling to survive. A downside which is seen by some on his own side, including the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Let’s also remember that the DWP is currently being investigated for falsifying statistics and that Duncan Smith’s assistant Chris Graying seems to have a habit for exaggeration (going back over many years) of that which he sees in his mind’s eye and wishes to be.

Nonetheless, I wish Mr Duncan Smith every success in his quest to find work for people. I’ve been engaged in this pursuit for quite a while now, and it’s not an easy one, but it truly is a satisfying one..

Photographs: IDS, who has genuinely made an effort to learn the problems of the Benefits System (whether this has been successful or not, I'm not sure); Boris johnson, who just looks bored with the whole thing (who could blame him?); and Chris Grayling demonstrating his talent for exaggeration (!!!!!).


  1. Tris

    Yeah! we will always make work pay by making a high wage the legal norm throughout the land(he!he!)

    IDS will be calling round later to administer a good slapping to the side of your he will

  2. Oh that will be jolly Niko.... (the high wage, not a slap for IDS...although, I don't know.....)

  3. That looks like it's worth a view CH...

  4. I strongly support IDS in his aims, both to make it always pay to work rather than live a life on benefits [exceptions obv for those too ill/unable to work etc], and for there to be relentless and almighty drive for work creation.

  5. How do you do those hyperlinks????????????????

  6. Dean... if he understood anything about how people's minds' work he would know that you creat the jobs first and then get the whip out if people fail to take them.

    It's all in the sky.

    They lied about the number of jobs in the jobcentres. They said there were 500,000. There are in fact around 340,000, and most of them are part time, night work, shifts etc, which people with kids can't necessarly do.

    I support the broad thrust of the programme...who wouldn't. It's just like everything else this lot has done. It's cock-eyes.

    Get the jobs created first.

    And Dean, like I said, if he is going to lift people out of poverty he needst to create jobs at aroun £17,000- £18,000. Not part time jobs, 16 hours at £5.93 (£95 per week, £4,934 pa). That doesn't lift people out of poverty.

  7. Cynical're going to have to run a masterclass for me and Niko...

  8. Tris,

    First things first, let us get them some kind of work - and kind of jobs. Then worry about improving things from there.

    Let us not put the cart before the horse. Let us make work pay, and provide any kind of work alternative first.

  9. Have just sent you an email tris in my pigeon english.

  10. Deano

    You mean the Torys(and there lick-spittles) are gonna sit on the cart while the poor the unemployed the elderly and the sick will have to pull it along once again..........with the Tory whip lashing into there backs

    been there done that!

  11. What widgets are to made Dean are we running out of blue or red ones, the country needs about 2-3 million jobs at least to take up the slack. Tax avoidance and evasion are the biggest benefit cheats in this country sort that first before creating anarchy.

  12. Dean: Yes, I agree, make it pay, but you know there is no use whipping someone to make them work if there IS no work. Our local newspaper used to have pages and pages of jobs every Friday. Now there are hardly any jobs at all. A few from councils, which will soon dry up, and the rest are part time carers, part time hairdressers, cleaners, window washers, leaftet ditributors, security men (must have own dog) or pizza delivery people (must have own car) or sales people on commission only contracts.

    I remember a few of my lads going out to do that. At the end of the first week they had earned between a fiver and twenty five pounds... and they had rent to pay... Joke!

    Either Iain doesn't know about this sort of thing, or he does and he's doing this to get a good headline in the Daily Mail.

  13. That programme was like a Party Political Broadcast by the Conservative Party CH.