We now live in a society where an outside company is awarded a £500m contract to provide the decisions a government department do not want to be associated with. Why? Because the government are clever enough to realise, that, in reducing the cost of welfare (the easiest of all things to take money away from) it also could harm their cultivated image of a political party that wants to be seen to be doing the right thing. If an outside company are awarded £500m to “take one for the team”, then so be it. £500m is not a lot of money for the government to distance itself away from any potential negativity.
Yesterday the DWP announced compulsory attendance to a Jobcentre for the long term unemployed, which amounts to 300,000 people. The government announced there were 600,000 jobs available. According to data in February 2014 there were 2.24million unemployed people aged 16+, and in March 2014 there were 1.14million people aged 18+ claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. So, 3.36million people for 600,000 jobs, and now 300,000 are asked to attend a Jobcentre every day or lose benefit. How that is supposed to help anyone is unproven. What may become clear is in order for the voter to feel further disillusionment and ill-considered hatred towards the poor it may be necessary for the government to reimburse daily travel allowances for those long-term unemployed.
In Norwich a return bus ticket costs £4.20 a day. A weekly ticket costs £19, which is a large chunk of someone’s weekly benefit. What if the government paid for travel costs? Let’s assume the government covers the cost for one claimant’s £19 weekly bus ticket allowing travel for three months. This would cost £228. Now let’s assume 299,999 all have to do the exact same thing. The travel cost to the government would be £68,399,772. Or, more accurately, it will cost you £68million pounds, and another round of ammunition for the welfare debate and hatred towards the poor is found. How? Because this amount will be reported in the news as an extra burden to the tax payer, and will further demonise the unfortunate, illiterate, people who struggle for a myriad of reasons to find suitable work. One of the most overlooked facts concerns the availability of jobs in a particular area. There are fewer jobs in the Midlands and North East and as a consequence there are more benefit claimants. It really isn’t difficult.
Political engineering is a clever thing and sadly not new. If you’ve never read Orwell’s 1984, Animal Farm, or Huxley’s Brave New World, you’ll be startled at the similarities and differences. You may think this hair-brained, but I remember a time when it wasn’t like this. Why do we not embrace our fellow humans? Why is it considered the right thing to want more than anyone else? When did greed and power become more important than another person’s safety and welfare? Who in their right mind believes the majority of people actually bring it on themselves? No-one decides where and into which family they are born. No-one decides to become a drug addict; an alcoholic; physically or mentally ill, dependant; abused; neglected. The sooner more people actually overcome their misplaced and misdirected anger towards those less fortunate then perhaps we might start getting along a bit better, and begin to do something that may actually provide a spark of inspiration to those who desperately need our compassion and understanding.
I know too well that many will say how airy-fairy this is, and those people also need our help for they will soon find themselves at the mercy of something they didn’t decide, or want to happen, and as soon as a friendly face appears they will remark how fortunate it is that someone cared enough to help them.