Today the news in the U.K is full of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s speech from the Conservative Party Conference. All day long there’s been comment and questions about his scheme to get people back to work.
Now, I am all for prudent use of the country’s resources, but this tinkering around the Benefit’s System is only good for headline grabbing. There is a much bigger problem lurking underneath that no one, so far, has even mentioned. O.K, if people have been unemployed and on Benefits for a long time, they probably do need help getting back into work, so voluntary placements with Charities could be a good idea; extra support from the Job Centres could work well too. So what’s the problem? Where, I want to know, are the jobs for the long-term unemployed? Our job market is not booming. Every vacancy for a job seems to attract many more applicants than can ever be placed. Number one task then; create more sustainable, long-term jobs.
Secondly – stop griping about scroungers and Food Banks. At our local Food Bank, the majority of adults are in full-time work, but 60% of users are children under 16. No sending eight year olds down the coal mines to solve this one – that’d be illegal and in any case the mines have closed now haven’t they? Big problem, Chancellor – people in work are not earning enough to feed themselves and their families. The minimum wage is NOT a living wage. Getting people into work is not enough – work must pay!
Then, this evening there was an appeal from Save the Children Fund about its work in the U.K. Here it is:
We live in the 6th richest country in the world, yet many go hungry and are oppressed by poverty. The Chancellor, of course, has no time for ‘scroungers’ but then, he’s a millionaire. Politicians are indeed out of touch with ordinary folk. If I had a Fairy Godmother, I’d wish that every Cabinet member would have to live for a year on the minimum wage. I wonder how many we’d see at the Food Banks?