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September 12, 2010


Paris Claims

They did reform welfare. They changed it from a safty net,to a trawling (for votes) net. They turned huge swathes of the nation into welfare junkies.

Tony Makara

Welfare reform can only be achieved when people can find work and earn enough to live independently of the State.

The Chancellor makes the assertion that there are half a million job vacancies, and supposing all those were eventually filled, that still leaves two million people on front-line JSA benefits who cannot work.

There are one and a half million in part-time work and around four million who are in low-paid jobs and need to have their wages topped up by the state.

All of this means that without millions of new jobs and better wages the Coalition is just as hampered when it comes to welfare reform as Labour.

Talk of welfare reform is dishonest and misleads the public because the logistics of the labour market show it cannot be achieved.


Oh, not the failure to regulate the financial sector then.... you could have fooled me.

Victor Southern

At no point and in no place did George Osborne say that there are a fixed 500,000 vacancies. what he repaeted was a finding of Ian Duncan-Smith's committee that at any one time there are a floatimg 500,000 vacancies in the economy. As some get filled so more vacancies arise.

The first thing is to see that the vacancies do get filled and are not spurned by benefit recipients. For example, and this is a fact, the numerous jobs created by the cavity-wall insulation project are increasingly being filled by East Europeans.

The cuts in disabled benefits are not intended to hurt those who are disabled but those who languish at home when they could work. For example, in Merthyr Tydfil 28% of the working age population are on disability benefits. that is the highest but the number of those on disablity benefits always rises to the highest levels in areas where unemployment is, in any case high.

We must not listen to the spurious figures issued by the trade union movement - they would say that wouldn't they? A fair few jobs have been lost because of trade union activity and more of those will happen as they force more and more strikes, so injuring their employers.

Tony Makara

Victor, do you seriously believe that if the half a million vacancies that purportedly exist were all filled, another two million jobs could be created during the Coalitions tenure?

We also have to ask how many of the current half a million vacancies are part-time jobs, or positions that are skill-specific.

Of course there may be a vacancy for a Media Consultant or other specialized role, but how many of these vacancies can realistically be filled by those who are jobless?

Perhaps the fact that there was always a steady 600,000 vacancies during the Labour years tells us that most of these positions are skilled and therefore out of the reach of most on the dole.

The numbers forced to claim welfare are directly related to the demands of the labour market. Currently we are two million jobs short of ending front-line unemployment. Fiscal restructuring is certain to increase that number.

We have to be realistic about what can be achieved. Without jobs, that is millions of jobs, there cannot and will not be welfare reform.


As Bill Clinton said "a hand up not a hand out".

Pat Guide

As Bill Clinton said "a hand up not a hand out".

Clinton also said "I did not have sex with that woman."

It doesn't add up...

Good to see a Lib Dem criticising the former government and current opposition. Perhaps an idea that some Tories might emulate?

Victor Southern

What the vacancies tell us Tony is that the majority of these jobs are unskilled. They would be ideal for those who sit on the dole and have no skills.

I have no idea whether two million new jobs can be created under the Coalition. Brown trumpeted about his success in job creation. Most of those were in the public service although 1.9 million immigrants found work here. I refuse to agree with you that there is no use in aiming for job creation for our own citizens just because Labour couldn't manage it except at huge taxpayer cost.

Ross J Warren

As far as I see it right now, the unemployed are as always victim to mostly undeserved sniping. The disablement trap is altogether more a case of underfunding. Almost all people would rather contribute than sponge funds.
So having established that minimum pay is insufficient to cover even the basics we need only decide to end this nonsense with a universal life credit. Despite much of the distinctive disadvantage of their "coughs" unemployment. I have often noted that many of the hardest working people I know are on benefits, as they have to make up for lack of cash with personal elbow grease.

What is needed is a minimum basic "SUM" which is never under threat what ever the circumstances of the Citizen-subject. This Sum might only cover the most essential of essentials, but would be mandated by law.

Tony Makara

"Brown trumpeted about his success in job creation. Most of those were in the public service"

It was tragi-comical to hear Labour MPs in the run up to the 2005 election saying in interview after interview that we had "Full Employment" this at a time when one and a half million were unemployed.

I have to say I don't know where you get the idea that I am opposed to aiming for job-creation, my point on these forums has always been that this Coalition has no great plan of action to create jobs. I said this well before, and in the run up to the election. Whenever we hear anything at all on jobs its the same old rot about putting our faith in small businesses when in fact we should be looking to encourage merger and a big business culture.

As I've stated many times that large numbers of jobs can be created by creating a home-market economy and imposing a levy on imports from countries like China who deliberately keep their currency undervalued. We have to start producing and supplying our ready-made domestic market if we want to create over a million jobs. We can't do that if we are buying imports that could be produced here at home by our own people.


People buy goods from overseas for several reason, mainly price & quality.

I've had the dubious pleasure of being supplied several Rovers as company cars over the years, simply APPALLING!

I bought a Jaguar S Type some years ago, probably the worst car I've had in 35 years of driving.

I now drive a Mercedes, 12 years old, currently on 185,000 miles & it is superb.

When British companies can produce quality at a good price (which doesn't mean cheap)I like many others will be happy to buy, but I will not be forced into buying a UK product by any-one.

The real issue however is the jobs tend to be in the south of England & the unemployed tend to be in the North, a generalisation I know but I still think valid.

Some-one unemployed in Rotherham or Doncaster or Sheffield owning their own house worth maybe £75,000 cannot even think about moving to Crawley in Sussex where the same house would be £200,000. To rent is also out of their reach.

Tony Makara

"When British companies can produce quality at a good price"

Price does not become so important a factor when better wages are paid.

The fact that the State has to top up the wages of four million people tells us much about the poor wages paid in our country. This is largely due to the Service-Sector which accounts for 3/4 of the economy and cannot pay for better wages out of productivity and exports.

Paradoxically the Minimum Wage is a problem too because it drags wages down.

We should not imagine that cheap goods are always a good thing. People may marvel at the idea of paying a Pound for a set of headphones but we all pay for cheap imports through unemployment and the cost of supporting that in welfare, which as we know, runs into Billions.

There is also the cost of higher interest-rates that are needed to keep the Pound strong so that imports remain cheap.

Don't imagine that interest-rates are going to remain at a historic low. You, the homeowner pay for the cheap Chinese imports through the higher interest-rates needed to fend off imported inflation. The more we import the more we have to resort to higher interest-rates.

For example, if interest-rates don't start to rise soon, imported food inflation is going to hit us like a tidal wave.

If, as a nation, we produced far more of our own food and supplied our own manufactured wares, we could put many into work, end the crushing burden of welfare, have permanently low interest rates, and more people in home ownership as a result. However if we continue to buy trashy Chinese goods from the Pound shop and other retailers we can expect more of the same unemployment, high interest-rates and mortgage misery.

There is more at stake than just saving money on a cheap Dvd player from China.


I happen to agree with you regarding price & wages, however I'm not prepared to pay say £5.00+ for a set of headphones, produced in the UK, when I can buy a better set (or at least as good) for £1.00.

Once you start imposing import restrictions, by default, you impose EXPORT restrictions because those countries will retaliate.

We don't produce televisions & computers & it would take such a massive investment to start doing so that it will never happen. Companies will go where-ever they can to produce goods at a low price & to take advantage of low wages.

Regarding food, yes I agree, we should produce more, but one problem is that we want food out of season, so many items are imported thanks to public demand.

To do what you suggest, even part of that, requires such a cultural change in this country that I just can't see happening.

One thing we could do however, is to encourage companies to locate & re-locate outside of the home counties, to go to areas of high unemployment, but that would require very substancial financial insentives.

We cannot run a fortress economy, the world has moved on, information is too readily available & to try & erect a fence around this country would be a disaster.

Tony Makara

A sea-change in our economic culture is exactly what we do need. Without that change we will be condemning ourselves to more of the same unemployment, welfare, high interest rates etc.

Population is an important factior, and the service-sector, because of the way it is structured is not able to employ enough people for a population of our size. Services on the whole mean small businesess employing small numbers of people and with services making up 3/4 of our economy its inevitable that there will not be enough jobs in the economy relative to the population. The economy needs to be significant re-balanced away from services and towards productive sectors like Manufacturing and Agriculture.

Tariffs are inevitable and right now in American based business is looking at ways to force the Obama administration to act against Chinese currency maniulation, something that has been promised by Obama and Geitner, but not so far delivered. As things stand trade with China is nothing more than a one-way-street, they export and we buy, all because of currency manipulation creating an unfair advantage to the Chinese.

As inflation rises to eight percent in some districts, China continues to keep its currency undervalued, because of the huge trade advantage it gives over the West.

If the Chinese won't make moves towards equalizing their purchasing power with Western currencies, the West collectively should impose a tariff on certain Chinese imports to create a fair market. Otherwise how can Western producers hope to supply their domestic markets if the Chinese are massively undercutting prices through currency manipulation.

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