We've just taken a look through last week's Public Accounts Committee report on welfare to work and the shortcomings of the New Deal programme. It received extensive press coverage although in truth, it doesn't actually add much to the original NAO report and that PAC encounter with the Honey Monster last October (blogged here).
Key points as follows:
- Over 4.3 million people of working-age and 1.79 million children are living in workless households- ie 6m people (10% of Britain's entire population) are living in 3m households where one or more adults is of working age but nobody works, and the household is entirely dependent on state welfare
- 16% of working age households are workless
- These households cost us at least £12.7bn pa in welfare payments (nearly 4 pence on the standard rate of income tax for the rest of us)
- In 80% of the households, nobody is even seeking work
- The government reckons 2m of these people can be put to work, including 1m currently drawing incapacity benefit and 0.3m lone parents, but...
- The New Deal welfare to work programmes have no coherent strategy for reaching those not seeking work (ie those not in receipt of Job Seekers allowance)
- Most of the programmes are inefficient, costing taxpayers more than they save in terms of reduced welfare costs etc
- Management information is shockingly poor, with for example no record of how many people going onto New Deal programmes never actually graduate into jobs
As we all understand, welfare dependency is one of the most corrosive forces going. But the New Deal programme has run into the sand. It may initially have helped easy to place job seekers into work, but it's having virtually no success with this hardcore 4.3m, 2m of whom even the government admits are capable of working.
According to the PAC, 60% of workless households are concentrated in just 10% of our council wards. Mostly they are in the familiar areas where employment opportunities are most limited (North East, South Wales etc). The Big Government solution is to hope it can somehow create jobs paying enough to tempt these people off welfare. But their productivity is insufficient to generate pay high enough to do that. Which is a problem that even David Freud's plan to use private sector back-to-work agencies is unlikely to solve.
The alternative market solution is to cut welfare entitlements- especially in low wage areas- so that the attraction of paid employment is much more evident to all. It may seem harsh, but we are constantly told that paid employment brings all sorts of other benefits (eg mental health). And there are no prizes for guessing which of the two solutions is more sustainable in the long-term.
PS Dole Scroungers is based in sunny Brighton. Less than an hour from London, full of pink pounds and loads of posh houses, you might think it wouldn't have much of a problem with dole scrounging. But of course, you'd be wrong: if you've been there anytime in the last twenty years, you'll know it's full of low-rent hippies and dogs on string leads. It's unemployment rate is twice the (low) regional average, largely because said hippies have moved in from elsewhere with no intention of working for a living at all. Which is fine, except the Major and I don't want to pay for them.
What would Brighton's Victorians have said? What would Tyler's great grandparents have said? They ran a butcher's shop in Upper St James St Brighton, and here they are working way beyond today's retirement age, and wholly unfamiliar with the concept of state welfare dependency:
Update on Whacking Benefit Fraud
While writing this, I thought I'd update this post on benefit fraudsters. So I Googled news "benefits scrounger" looking for recent cases.
Top link is the Liverpool Echo's story about Iranian asylum seeker Massoud Montazery, 29, who lied to immigration officials about the existence of a bank account containing £500,000 and swindled taxpayers out of £25 grand. He's been given a 9 months jail sentence, but suspended.
Next up is Mohammed Salim who "is getting the state to pay for him, his wife and their ELEVEN kids—because he can't be bothered to go to work". Here's his story:
"He quit his £27,000 job teaching maths and science three years ago and is BETTER OFF claiming £29,096 a year in benefits. And he has much more time to devote to his Islamic political party— which ATTACKS the British government, even though this country gives his family their food, clothes and house for free.
Mohammed is also busy planning his TWELFTH baby with wife Noreen, 35, but has no plans to get a job. He grinned: "For many years I worked in Derby as a teacher, earning £27,000 a year, and Noreen would be at home with the kids. I would come home at weekends. Then I moved back to work in Manchester and took a pay cut to £24,000. It was a load of c***. I was teaching at a college and I'd be up at 5.30am with the kids then have to go to work. I just couldn't be a***d with sitting in traffic. I'd be sat in traffic for hours and I felt like I'd done a day's work by the time I got there, I was so stressed."
Now, following my last fraud post, I was taken to task for selectively reporting only immigrant welfare scroungers and I must say I wondered if I was perhaps doing that. But those are genuinely the first two stories from Google.
Still, I am please to report that the next one is a genuine home grown welfare thief. The York Press reports: "Great grandfather David Martindale, 63, conned his way to £27,000 in benefits as he lived in Thailand with his new wife" (who is less than half his age, not that it's in any way relevant of course).
Good to know we've still got home grown white scammers: less good that they too get let off with suspended sentences. Judge Stephen Ashurst said "I have to mark this deliberate conduct of failure to notify the change of your circumstances with a prison sentence, but I am going to suspend that sentence to take account of your guilty plea and the personal mitigation. Part of the rationale is that by retaining your liberty you are going to be in a better position in the long-term to pay off your debt to the community."