This is a letter to the Swindon Advertiser.
Ian Duncan Smith, echoing Norman Tebbitt’s famous injunction for the unemployed to “get on their bikes”, suggests that today they should get on the bus. He told the unemployed in Merthyr Tydfil to get on the bus to Cardiff. In a brilliant intellectual insight, he declared that jobs don’t come to you, you have to look for them.
The unemployed in Merthyr, all 1,670 of them, do have a problem, since there are only 39 job vacancies there, all temporary and part-time. One of the reasons why there are so few is, for instance, because of the Hoover factory, moved abroad where they could pay wages a fraction of those they were paying in Merthyr. This is one of the “benefits” of globalisation.
So what would they find if they got on the bus to Cardiff? The PCS union reports that would find themselves competing for 1,700 jobs with the 15,000 people in Cardiff already chasing after them. Of the Cardiff vacancies, the vast majority are temporary and part-time. Of the temporary jobs, most are unskilled labouring for just one or three weeks’ duration.
The day after Duncan Smith’s statement, the PCS reported that the most popular vacancy was a Christmas job in a well known store…for the minimum wage.
When people sign on, they already sign a jobseekers agreement that says they are prepared to travel up to an hour by bus to find work. After six months this goes up to an hour and a half. If their travel is within an hour, the cost is not refunded so the jobseeker is required to find the money themselves out of the miserable pittance they get for jobseekers allowance.
“We are all in it together” says a Cabinet with 18 millionaires in it.
If people cannot find work – and most unemployed people want to find it – then they are going to be penalised and impoverished by the government’s measures. It is job creation we need, not job destruction. The social consequences of the coalition programme will be disastrous.