Workfare – down but not out

If activists think workfare is mortally wounded by the ruling this week that working for benefits only is unlawful, I have bad news for them. The corpse will rise from the dead time and time again no matter how many demonstrations there are, until means testing dies with it. Only a wooden stake through the heart would do for a werewolf. As it happens our bête noir – Iain Duncan Smith – has unintentionally provided us with the necessary weapon: Dynamic Benefits (2009)

As Owen Jones eloquently explains:

“The Government needs to demonise its victims as state dependent leeches. The bedroom tax is yet another means for the Government to turn Britain’s poorest against each other. Don’t blame the Government for failing to build housing: blame your neighbour instead”

They can only get away with this stupid inhumanity because , as Dynamic Benefits explains, the existing ‘benefit’ arrangements do discourage good behaviour. You can demonise victims as leeches as long as you make sure they have no alternative. Anti-workfare activists have responded to my blogs saying they like the Citizens’ income in principle, but they must focus on fighting the cuts. Either the CI must be a separate campaign, or come later. No – it is vital now if stunning workfare is to be converted into a coup de gráce.

Meanwhile, Ed Miliband still does not get it. His offer to reinstate the 10% tax rate still plays to IDS’s ‘force everyone to work whether or not there are jobs’ agenda. The same sum paid as a direct grant to everyone (the first bit of a Citizens’ Income) would be of more help to those being targeted by workfare.

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