Thursday, 21 May 2015

Poverty and unacceptable jobs

There was a rare treat on Laurie Taylor's Thinking Allowed this week: a contribution from a conservative (if not a Conservative) academic in the field of social policy. Labour is fond of saying that it is a myth that JSA claimants prefer to stay on benefits than take uncongenial jobs. Andrew Dunn provided evidence to the contrary, though rather too much of that evidence was from DWP staff rather than claimants themselves to settle all doubts. I would add that the difficulty and expense of getting to and from work is also a disincentive. I agree that most people would prefer the self-respect which work gives them, even if the balance of compensation is negligible, but it has to be recognised that there is a minority which would not.

Joanna Mack's summary of an exhaustive series of surveys over the last thirty years was even more sobering. Although some of what we regard as essentials today were seen as luxuries or unobtainable in 1980, it seems clear that the gap between rich and poor has widened since then. Moreover, there are far more people now than then who depend on in-work benefits.

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