Sunday, 27 July 2008

*"Give claimants more green lights, not more grief"

Replying to the leak of DWP Secretary James Purnell's latest 'get tough on claimants' Green Paper, London Green Party Disability Spokesperson Alan Wheatley said:

"What jobseekers need is more in the way of green lights, not more of the same draconian measures that make welfare reform the latest frontier for legalised human trafficking at a time of growing global recession."

The Government proposals include forcing claimants to do four week's full time work after claiming unemployment-related benefits for over a year. "That is a move to drive employment standards down and keep the pressure on keeping public sector pay and standards low.

"Meanwhile, Sky News is more keen to report what the DWP Secretary and his cronies have to say, than to alert the public to how his department fails to deliver urgently needed income to genuine claimants. When claimants receive redundancy money or are in temporary, part-time paid employment, their Jobseekers Allowance entitlements are rarely updated on time and this causes hardship and creates a stumbling block in their career progression while Jobcentre Plus call-centres are overloaded." In 2004-2005, 21 million calls -- 44% of all incoming call traffic -- to Jobcentre Plus call-centres went unanswered. What has Sky News and the like had to say about that, and with what size headlines?

As Noam Chomski reported in 'The Manufacture of Consent', poor people have traditionally not had the telecommunications equipment that their oppressors rely on for promoting their say, and that makes news sourcing easier. With a computer won in a national magazine competition, London Green Party's Disability Spokesperson has exercised his Information Communication Technology skills and reframing bitter personal experience of system failure, into being Disability Spokesperson for London Green Party. "The essential data were multiple choice answers, not CV data," Alan notes.

That application of his Information Communication Technology skills has been better for his mental health and continuous professional development than advice given by workfare provider A4e (Action for Employment) to long-term jobseekers.

A4e Holloway client advisors say, "The more jobs you apply for, the better your chances. Ten job applications per day is good." On A4e's referral form, there is no question regarding the 'beneficiary's' disability status or access requirements. But is such a lottery-like approach to jobsearch professional or even good for even non-disabled jobseekers?

A4e owner Emma Harrison is a multi-millionaire whose business is expanding globally, as is the armaments exports-like nature of workfare that the UK's Department for Work & Pensions Secretary wants British-based companies to be a leading force in. It also offers free debt advice to New Deal 'beneficiaries' while A4e's delivery of 'Community Legal Aid Centres' threatens the future of Citizens' Advice Bureaux and prospective impartiality of the advice offered to society's most economically vulnerable members.

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