On tonights Newsnight, there will be a feature-report about benefit claimants being forced to either work, or lose their benefits. You can read about it on the BBC website as well.
In Britain, the share of working-aged people who are out of work - over a quarter - is unusually high. Close to six million people are living on benefits of one kind or another, a tenth of the whole population.
The recession may have caused the numbers of unemployed to grow, but 4.5 million people were living on out-of-work benefits even before the recession. And the largest number of dependents, 2.6 million, claim to be disabled and are living on incapacity benefit. Steps have been taken to move all of these groups, as well as lone parents, toward employment, yet dependency on benefits remains high.
In contrast, the US welfare reforms of the 1990s succeeded in cutting the number of people claiming welfare by over two-thirds, and in the state of Wisconsin we reduced the number by 80%.
It was tough love - if people did not work, they lost their benefits.
Anyone up for a debate? Lol. Ive always said people who don't want to work, are entitled not to have to, but should also not be entitled to state benefits. Many have argued against this, with quite valid reasoning, and I accept its a tricky situation, but I do believe the current methods of looking after people and trying to encourage them to work, have been tried, and failed, many many times over the past few decades.
It appears the US system even got the teenage mothers/career mothers who feel in the UK, they can pop a kid out every 7 years and have a right never to work...
Claimants were told to look for work as soon as they went onto aid, or even applied for it.
Many left welfare for jobs quickly. Even larger numbers moved into work directly without going onto welfare at all.
And the programme also affected lone mothers with children, a group which in Britain is seen as less employable and faces, as yet, no definite work requirement.
And then we have the folk who think its a human right, for some scroungers to avoid working, whilst hard working, honest and decent people, have to pay to keep them...
More important is the fact that many people still believe in entitlement - this is the idea that you have a right to get benefits if you qualify under the income rules, and you should not have to work for them.
I met some trades union staff who defended this attitude. They failed to see the irony - originally trade unions defended the rights of working people, but now they were defending people who lived without working, even for years at a time.
A further influence is that even claimants who accepted the idea of compulsory work found it difficult to imagine actually going to work. I met a group of unemployment benefits recipients at a community centre in Anfield, one of the most depressed areas in Liverpool.
When I broached the idea of their having to work to get aid, they came up with all kinds of problems. Some doubted that jobs were available, but more doubted they could get the child care or training that they needed.
Above all, several claimed that if they took a job they would lose more in benefits than they would gain in earnings, and thus would emerge worse off.
I think its about time we start making life very very hard for long-term scroungers and the like. Fused with todays report that upto 64% of people in Aberdeen and Burnley, claiming Incapacity/Disability benefit, have been found fit for work (some do require extra support and assistance), the like of which are costing the taxpayer £13 billion per year alone, I think we should start being more rigourous with checks for those who actually need it.
In one of my jobs, I reguarly see allsorts of scroungers and hear of all manner of stories of how people avoid working, and how people "dress up" for the disability claims etc, to ensure they continue to get the benefits, and effectively defraud the system.
I think those with genuine disability of incapacity, should get what they are entitled to, in fact if we get rid of those who dont need it, they could get more!! It angers me when I see folk with real, serious disabilities, having to fundraise in the local community, relying on charity support and having to go through allsorts of rigmarole, months and even sometimes years of form filling and arguing their case, just to get adaptions and other things they should be automatically entitled to, whilst people who need nothing and are quite capable of work, lie their way through tribunals and medical reviews, to ensure they get everything. As is becoming more and more noticeable, those who know how to "work the system" do very well out of a life on benefits, those in genuine need usually struggle and go through hell just to get the basics that they are entitled to.
Its about time we for once, changed tact on benefits claimants, scroungers who simply don't want to work, and fraudsters who pretend to have problems, not only robbing the taxpayer of money, but buiding a growing public resentment of the current incapacity/disability system.
It isnt often you will hear me say this, as I generally have little time for "the big I am" cousins over the pond, but bravo to the US for having the balls to force the change.BBC Newsnight ReportWatch Lawrence Mead's film for Newsnight in full on Tuesday 15 February 2011 at 10.30pm on BBC Two and then afterwards on the BBC iPlayer and Newsnight website.