Osborne's jobcentre reform is more ‘tough luck’ than ‘tough love’

Does anyone think turning up on a daily basis will really help?

Share
Related Topics

Desperate times call for desperate empathy exercises. Please, for a moment, imagine yourself George Osborne. (I don’t ask this lightly). Now picture a jobcentre. What do you see? (Stay inside Osborne’s mind. Think hard).

This is what my inner Osborne came up with: a big room, huge in fact. (Too much space, if anything). Sunny staff, who pass the day chatting about how little work they actually have to do. The clients, those who bother to turn up, are vagabonds. (You can smell the laziness on them from feet away.)

This is in all likelihood deeply unfair on the Chancellor. But as far as I can tell, he has never been photographed inside a jobcentre. On top of which, and more seriously, his announcement this weekend that the long-term unemployed will lose benefits unless they turn up at a jobcentre every day seems to significantly misunderstand what military strategists like to call “the reality on the ground”.

I don’t have a good grasp on it either. But thankfully nobody is asking me to get the population back to work. People are, however, asking Mr Osborne about the logistics of his “tough love” for the unemployed. Why show up in person, taking expensive public transport, if you can get a service online? Won’t the influx of people overload jobcentre staff? Isn’t a daily trip to discover that there is no work, time after time after time, something of a recipe for gloominess?

Jobcentres have themselves been cut. In June, staff were reduced by 10 per cent at West Yorkshire Jobcentres, news that Bradford council leader David Green greeted with : “This is going to have a massively counter-productive effect on efforts to get people into work”, he said. Mr Green will presumably be humming with joy at the prospect of hundreds more people turning up every day to see 150 fewer staff.

‘Pulling an Orwell’ has, over the past year or so, become popular among politicians. Labour MP Helen Goodman spent a week with only £18 for food to protest the bedroom tax. The trend strikes me as inane. Iain Duncan Smith shouldn’t have to live on £53 a week – as a petition demanded – in order to understand what impact his welfare reforms will have on people’s lives.

But maybe some field research wouldn’t go amiss for Mr Osborne. A daily trip to an overcrowded jobcentre, say, with little prospect of work, and a budget draining away on bus fare. No quesiton, propelling the unemployed off benefits and into work is an important task for any government. But this draconian rule seems geared more to punishment than progress. “Tough love”, you might call it. “Tough luck” is closer to the truth.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific