The Curmudgeon


Saturday, July 03, 2010

If You're Not Working, You Should Be Hurting

Daveybloke's cuddly Minister for Idleness Prevention, the dependably regrettable Iain Duncan Smith, has registered enthusiasm for a scheme whereby the idleness police at JobCentre Plus will be given lists of local charities where non-utilisable human resources may be sent in order to exchange vouchers for food. Presumably, in order to prevent waste, the obese and the immorally pregnant will be means-tested by tonnage beforehand. The Government is "keen the policy is seen as an attempt to bolster the voluntary sector, rather than the state abandoning people who fall through the welfare net", for the very good reason that the policy consists in the state, under the rubric of an attempt to bolster the voluntary sector, abandoning people who fall through the welfare net. The idea, if that is the word I want, is seen as a practical manifestation of Daveybloke's Big Society shtik, which consists essentially in the assertion that, except in cases of severe party donor hardship, the state should take little or no responsibility for the welfare of its own citizens. Duncan Smith therefore plans to cut a lot more holes in the welfare net and then punish and humiliate the people who fall through, in accordance with the tried and tested Thatcherite maxim that the best palliative for a kick in the teeth is a stomach-punch to incentivise clear enunciation.

A number of welfare recipients are already undergoing appropriate lifestyle adjustments because the Department of Idleness Prevention can take three weeks or more to assess a claim and will sometimes stop payments while doing so, in case the customer absconds to Belize or somewhere. However, a source close to Duncan Smith, which understandably found anonymity advisable in the circumstances, observed: "Particularly with food banks, we should be looking at the ability of staff in jobcentres to [direct claimaints to the charity], because it makes a difference to someone, and makes a difference to their lives." It is certainly reassuring that the difference between eating and starving has obtruded itself on the intellect of at least one of Duncan Smith's chums.


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