Union says government should take responsibility for the suffering it is causing, not blame unemployed

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Increasing the penalties for jobseekers will not create a single extra job and is just a cruel and unnecessary attempt by the government to blame people for its own failed policies, the PCS says.

With the Department for Work Pensions today increasing to up to three years the time claimants can have their jobseekers allowance removed, the union points out that the government’s own advisory body on social security has questioned the effectiveness of punitive sanctions.

Unemployment remains high at 2.5 million, including almost one million young people – despite a slight fall, youth unemployment remains 40% higher than it was in January 2008.

Added to this a further two million people are doing temporary or part-time work because they could not find a permanent or full-time job.

This means an army of 4.5 million workers chasing just 476,000 vacancies, nine people for every available job.

Increasing numbers of people in work can no longer afford to put a roof over their heads, a report published today (22) by the National Housing Federation confirms. In the last years there has been an 86% rise in working people claiming housing benefit, with an additional 10,000 workers a month making a claim to help to pay their rent.

Reporting on punitive measures in the benefits system in 2009, the government’s social security advisory committee wrote: “The focus on sanctions is, we believe, unhelpful and does not take proper account of the full findings of the department’s own research…we are disappointed that more evidence has not been presented to prove that sanctions and compulsions are effective in generating long term sustainable employment.”

It concluded, “we remain unconvinced that the evidence to support this view is either consistent or robust, or that evidence of improved compliance under threat of sanctions necessarily leads to improved engagement and activation”.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Instead of punishing people for being out of work the government should take responsibility for the suffering it is causing with its failed austerity policies that tens of thousands of us marched against at the weekend.

“No one chooses a life on benefits, but some very wealthy individuals and organisations do choose not to pay their taxes, and they’re the ones who should be demonised and pursued.”


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