Whilst I realise I’m a little late on blogging on this, the latest ideological burp to come out of the right-wing think-tank that is our nation’s Treasury still needs examining.
Of course Treasury submitting to the Welfare Working Group is more a meeting of like-minds than their usual pushing to the right, but it’s interesting to see which proposals they give their backing to.
Not the insurance-based madness, Treasury don’t fancy being in charge of overseeing that inefficient bureaucratic nightmare; but they are keen to send solo mums out to work before their kids reach school.
Whether those mums will be able to afford childcare or just get sent to prison for child neglect is unclear. I’d rather have someone focussed on the job raising our next generation than an overworked stressed-out parent without time to bond. Life is harsh enough for a sole working parent with a 6-year-old: for a 6-year-old child having to do after-school clubs makes a long day; and it isn’t much of a life for the solo parent with a full-time job before coming home to bathe and feed the children, help with homework, pack their lunches and get them ready for the next day at school, before crashing into bed. How much worse for pre-school kids? Is that the way we want our next generation raised? Will that help generate a group of super-kids? Or is it just more terribly short-term thinking, looking at balancing the budget this year, and not at the human cost, or our country’s future.
Treasury do at least realise that extended parental leave is required. From my point of view, necessary to establish a stronger bond between parents and child that will greatly improve the child’s emotional ability, and feed through to a more successful life. From Treasury’s: to be able to keep mothers in the work loop.
They also agree that our statutory minimum of 5 days sick pay per year is too little – it must be absurdly little if even Treasury think so!
But their biggest idea is moving vast amounts of people (~70%?) from the Invalids and Sickness Benefits onto the dole, as Britain have done. This has caused a huge injustice in Britain, and would here. The insanity of it is especially obvious in a job market with no jobs. Sickness beneficiaries essentially just take a benefit cut, are forced to go to pointless interviews, and still have no prospect of work.
If people are on Sickness or Invalids Benefit they are going to need more help, not less, to get back to work. Rather than taking away from them the small amount extra they get each week to cover their additional expense; they need extra programs to get them useful skills, to help employers adapt to their needs, and to help them adapt to the job market. If a computer expert’s off sick with an occupational overuse condition, is it more beneficial causing them to develop another one as a cleaner, or organising an employer and workplace that can still use their skills, executed in a slightly different way? But National are always keener on the Penny-wise Pound-foolish way, so they’d prefer to force the person to go to interviews for cleaning jobs – and get turned away for being over-qualified.
Treasury being Treasury, their other big proposal involves privatisation. They want private companies to provide welfare services – because it’ll presumably be cheaper with some profit added in. I’m not automatically against this, some services can be provided privately – if they can prove to be cheaper in the long term (which includes getting more people permanently off benefits into the equation), and the state continues to provide a service for the private companies to compete with private monopolies are just foolish).
So all-in-all a pot pourri of some really bad ideas with a couple of sensible ones thrown in. What do you think?