Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Why workfare doesn't help jobseekers, most businesses or taxpayers
Matthew Oakley of Policy Exchange has an article in the Guardian where he defends the concept of workfare. He claims that "these schemes offer huge benefits to benefit claimants since they allow firms to trial workers they may otherwise not have considered" but does not give figures for how many people on workfare have been taken on by the company who they were working for under workfare.. Oakley also says "we should not let those with no work experience and claiming benefits to pick and choose the work they enter into", but the rules of being on Job Seekers Allowance are that you must take any job you are offered - whether you have work experience or not - and that after three months you must look for any job. So getting rid of workfare would make no difference to this. He cites a poll where 80% agreed that, "people who have been out of work for 12 months or more, who are physically and mentally capable of undertaking a job, should be required to do community work in return for their state benefits", but this defends how you define community work. Most people would not regard stacking shelves or working on a till in a shop as community work (unless perhaps if it was a charity shop), Many people in the comments section of his Guardian article have raised other issues, but I want to move onto why I disagree with workfare. Workfare is bad for the market, bad for businesses that do not take part, bad for those who are forced to do it and bad for taxpayers. As Daniel Furr says, it distorts the free market by giving businesses who take part unfair advantage in the labour market and access to free workers. Not every business wants to take part in workfare or can take part in workfare, so there will always be businesses who lose out. Those who take part will have to work for less than minimum wage, with none of the employment rights that paid workers at the company have. They may be resented by their colleagues as they are seen as putting their jobs at risk, and are easier to exploit than paid workers. Workfare takes away time that they could use to look for work. Looking for a job takes 35 hours in itself, what with jobsites to check, long application forms to fill in, the need to revisit your CV and interviews to go to. Taxpayers also lose out. If the business paid those on workfare a proper wage, they could come off benefits and save the taxpayer money. The money they earn would then go into the economy which will help to create more jobs. Those taxpayers who work at businesses that use people on workfare could also have their jobs replaced by someone on workfare. As it is, businesses who are getting workfare have a source of free labour and therefore a disincentive to create paid jobs. Public money is being spent on benefits that could be saved if paid jobs were created to hire people to do the work done by those on workfare. Some businesses may even lay off staff so they can replace them with people on workfare, therefore increasing dole queues and costing taxpayers more money. I believe in hard work and that people should always look for work if they can work and take a job when they are offered one. However, workfare does not help anybody except for ministers who want to make the unemployment figures look lower and those businesses who take part. What we need is for every jobseeker to be offered regular interview practice and CV help from the first time they sign on, but neither the Tories or Labour seem to accept this. Oh, and if you agree with me that workfare isn't working, you aren't a hard working taxpayer according to Iain Duncan Smith in today's Sun. Well Iain Duncan Smith, I work hard for a living and I'm 100% against workfare.