The Coalition’s latest medicine for the unemployed is a new forced-labour scheme which will see one million people who have been on JSA for longer than three years forced to work unpaid for six months or have their benefits removed.
The scheme has been named ‘support for the very long-term unemployed.’ However stripping people’s benefits from them and forcing them to work for less than £2 an hour is clearly not supportive in any way.
The government’s insistence on rolling out more and more ‘work-for-your-dole’ schemes is hardly an incentive to companies to invest in well-trained, well-paid jobs. If bosses think there’s a steady stream of jobless candidates who are forced to work for them, paid for by the taxpayer then that starts a race to the bottom.
Some companies are already using prisoners as cheap labour to reduce costs and boost profits.
In a job market with millions of unemployed and less than half a million vacancies, stripping people of their entitlement to benefits is no solution.
None of the government’s policies are about really putting a dent in the jobless figures. After all, the millions of unemployed represent a reserve army of workers that can be used to drive down wages, scab on strikes and scare people into accepting worsening pay and conditions for fear of being made unemployed.