Mark Hoban, Minister for Employment, Conservative MP for Fareham, announces in the Daily Telegraph that from Monday 21st October “there will be clear and escalating levels of penalties” for being poor:
For failing to do something required by a Jobcentre Plus adviser, the claimant will lose their benefits for four weeks. Every time it happens subsequently, they will lose their benefits for three months.
For the most serious rule-breaking, such as refusing to accept a reasonable job offer, or walking out of a job without good reason, they will lose their benefits for three months. If they do it a second time, they will lose their benefits for six months.
A third failure, at this level, is simply not acceptable and we will impose a three year penalty.
“Failing to do something” can include not showing up for an appointment at the time set by the Job Centre, because the Job Centre failed to give the correct time or because the claimant had a job interview that day or a sick relative. Or refusing to do unpaid workfare. Or turning down a job application that in no way fits:
An example: some of the last activities I filled into my booklet include applications for a call-centre position, an admin role, a notetaker position, a study support worker, and news of an interview for a minor editorial role. This would suggest I have an interest in working in either some sort of office-based job, or in an education-based job. The latest job given to me by the JobCentre? A position working in a lingerie shop. Now, I can provide you with an illustrated example of why I would never IN A MILLION YEARS get this job. After some extensive research, Facebook reliably informs me that these are the faces of men that make women feel sexy: [photos]
As the foremost expert in my own face, let me assure you it is not the sort of face that makes women feel sexy. Look at me. I always look that thrilled. I don’t even think working in a lingerie shop could make me look any happier.
Four weeks with no benefits.
Maybe a person can get through that. Maybe. If they have savings, if they have family they can borrow from or mooch off, if they don’t have dependent children.
Three months with no benefits.
Three years with no benefits.
I make no apology for this. I am clear that for too long some people have taken benefits for granted as a way of life rather than as a safety net.
Ah yes, the things you take for granted. “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche,” as they say.
Between 2005 and 2007, when Mark Hoban’s salary was £64,766 (that is, each week he got more than 22 times JSA) he claimed on his MP expenses:
- coffee table – £294, or just over 5 weeks of JSA
- LCD television – £749, or just over 13 weeks of JSA
- eight red silk cushions – £240, or just over 4 weeks of JSA
- Sabatier knives – part of an £81.99 claim, just under 1.5 weeks of JSA
Mark Hoban claimed for expenses on his second home in London:
- 2004-05: £20,049
- 2005-06: £21,545
- 2006-07: £19,788
- 2007-08: £21,280
Just for the record, if Hoban had commuted by train (standard fare) from Fareham to London every day of the year at today’s ticket prices, and claimed the fare on expenses, that would have cost the taxpayer £17,812.
But that wouldn’t have let Hoban claim for red silk cushions or Sabatier knives, would it?
Mark Hoban represents a constituency with low unemployment levels compared to average. In 2010, unemployment in Fareham was 4.7%: a couple of years later unemployment was reckoned to have fallen to 4.3%.
According to a Panelbase poll (nearly 1,000 Scots polled for The Sunday Times and Real Radio Scotland) “support for independence stands at 37%, while 45% are opposed and 17% are undecided”.
But when asked how they would vote in the 2014 referendum if they believed the following year’s UK general election would lead to a Tory-led government or another Tory-Lib Dem coalition, support for independence surges. The poll found that 52% would be likely to vote Yes under that scenario while 40% said they would be likely to vote No …
The Sunday Times, in the teaser section I read online, suggested this was due to “antipathy” to David Cameron’s party.
Aversion, dislike, repugnance, distaste, repulsion?
Maybe so. But also just plain fear.
Three years. No benefits. Even if you’re in a secure job and willing to put up with almost anything to keep it – a state of affairs very welcome to the cheap-work conservative and the workplace bully – the existence of a starving underclass without a safety net is something to be afraid of.
Hoban may think that people who have no money and no hope sit down and tamely starve or beg, and some do: but crime rates say that many don’t.