Mark Hoban’s message: Starve

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.

Three. Years.

Mark Hoban:

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.

Gold Cake from CookIt Mark Hoban, Let Me Eat Cake

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.


Filed under Benefits

24 responses to “Mark Hoban’s message: Starve

  1. Having suffered from depression foryears, and been unable to function in my high-flying, self employed profession as a result, I never thought I would wish a period of depression on anyone, but I think Hoban would benefit from a spell in the dark places.

  2. Gordon

    What a thought provoking article – does Hoban have an ounce of conscience? Man’s inhumanity to man on a very generous expenses arrangement. Red silk cushions indeed – he should see how Stutthoff Concentration Camp was run, great savings on benefits, luxury for the custodians and death & starvation for the masses. Plus ca change?

  3. wiccapedia

    Being a professional (self employed but really really poor as a result) person, interested in the Human Condition, I do wonder in this more enlightened age whether people like this fascist knob end will face offers of violence or even death from the disgruntled electorate at some point. I say more enlightened, in the only recession I’ve lived through, 20 years ago, people shrugged it off as if economic collapse followed by ‘austerity’ was some sort of natural phenomenon, like, say a hurricane. I think people are a tiny bit more sussed now…

    • The plan to deny people benefits for three years as a penalty not for cheating but because they failed to do what they were told by Job Centre staff strikes me as a recipe for pure disaster.

      (Example: Jobless Claimant, offered highly unsuitable job, says No. First offence. Second time: Jobless Claimant, offered highly unsuitable job, tries to argue, eventually accepts it. Highly unsuitable job is highly unsuitable and Jobless Claimant eventually quits / is fired. Job Centre Staff inform JC that as JC already refused one job, argued with them about another, and has just been sacked/quit from a job, they can’t go back on benefits for three years…. no food, no rent, go sit on the street. Bye bye.)

  4. Dr Alan McCowan

    Agree with everything in the post, but the example of the lingerie-shop man is a terrible one that just reinforces the Daily Mail prejudice of the unemployed as workshy spongers. Turn up for the interview. Show willing. Don’t get the job. Benefits not stopped. Simple.

    • I don’t know, Alan – I think the practice of Job Centre staff of sending unemployed people off to wholly-unsuitable jobs is one of the worst.

      One, it means many employers won’t advertise with the Job Centre because they know they will get a flood of applications, the vast majority of which will be entirely inappropriate, from people who know they’re not suited to the job, who are applying simply because they’ve been told to or lose their benefits.

      Two, it’s done because Job Centre staff are evidently on a numbers-quota – not to find people work, but to send X number of people on job applications. This is unprofessional and a waste of our money – the objective of Job centre staff ought to be to help people out of unemployment, not to score points in some kind of stupid job-application flooding.

      Three, applying for work is a big part of any unemployed person’s time and energy. Using up that time to force an unemployed person to apply for jobs they can’t get (and know they can’t get) is wasteful in the same way as forcing Job Centre staff to play the numbers rather than actively try to get people back into work.

      Now, if lingerie-shop guy had been applying for shop assistant/sales jobs and just didn’t fancy a lingerie shop, well, you’d have a point. But he evidently wasn’t.

    • I’ve no idea what occurs these days, but in the 1990s the Job Center near me had a trick of waiting till people had a job interview, then sending them on another, totally unsuitable, interview at the same time. Thus people had to decide to go to the unsuitable interview and definitely not get the job, or risk going for the suitable interview and being sanctioned of they did not get the job (pointless meetings at the job center could be scheduled to the same effect). I don’t know if this still goes on, but the people who used to do this certainly still work there and are still notorious for appalling, abusive and unprofessional behavior (I live in a small town, so these things are not well hidden).

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  9. Stu


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  11. Sarah

    I have severe autism. If you speak to anyone who knows me – however slight – they’ll tell you the same thing: – ANY job is an unsuitable job for me.

    Having just been awarded 0 points – WITHOUT interrogation! – I’ve been told I’m now subject to slavery. Been there, done that (anyone else remember NL’s Gateway to Work…? Same deal. Slave for your JSA. I worked in Oxfam ironing shirts. I lasted 1.5 days, before I lost it completely. I can’t cope with being around people longer than 20/30 mins MAX; any longer, and I start panicking and ‘fight-or-flight’ kicks in. WTF does this bellend think I could do…?! Yes, we’re going back 15 years, but it’s like that picture of the black lass who has no limbs; simply change the photo one of me and the caption to “Every year, the DWP interrogate me to see if I’ve stopped being autistic…”

    This is me now, and it’ll be me FOREVER!! I’d like to give my autism to Hoban and see how he’d cope not being able to relate to people, not being able to do things he takes for granted, like shopping, appointments, driving, organisation, finances – some days I can’t even leave the house! I’ve been physically sick do over a year but, because I can’t get support due to my age (it’s like you stop being autistic when you reach 18 – I’m nearly 40!) I can’t cope with doctors – I can’t even pick up the phone to make an appt! My surgery has an online appt service, but I’ve been given 4 different patient IDs to date and, every time I attempt to log in it’s “ID not recognised” or “You have entered an invalid patient ID. Please try again…” How do you resolve this…?! Yep, that’s right – you CALL the surgery! ARGH!!! They refuse to use email because “we believe it risks compromising doctor/patient confidentiality”, but I’ve FB friends who can email THEIR GPs!).

    Sorry for the off-topic rant; it’s hard when you feel like the world’s punishing you for your disability… Forgive me…?

  12. Duck

    I have schizophrenia. I am very worried that I would lose my benefits for ‘not trying’ at interview, or ‘walking out’ of a job, when I’m just not well enough but ATOS don’t believe me.
    The last job I took when I wasn’t really well enough to work was in a shop, and I lost it because I was terrified of customers and thought they were all going to kill me, so I kept hiding in the cellar and could not talk to anyone. This is not good for sales, and it was really bad for me too.

    • I’m schizophrenic as well. I know where you’re coming from on much of this. Atos are just there as the hatchet men for the DWP… I’m afraid there is no or perhaps little reasoning with them. All you can hope to do is make appeals. Something has gotta give, I just don’t know what it is. I am sorry you’re having to go through this, at the moment — this kind of thing should not happen.

  13. Unfortunately this is less than surprising. They’re taking a lot of time and effort to save about 10% of what they could be saving if they started looking into upper/ruling class tax evasion.

  14. Bob Howie

    went to the jobcentre with a bunch of photos of Tory MPs so when I told them what I would like to train as I could show them the reason and that as a Hitman I would have plenty work……….Apparently it is illegal to cure Stupid!!!

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