James Purnell’s Welfare Reform Bill
With James Purnell’s leaving the Government, there is an opportunity to sit back and think about the Welfare Reform Bill. Will Yvette Cooper, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions keep up the pressure for this legislation?
Let’s hope she listens to what unions and dozens of campaign organisations are saying about the Bill:
- ‘Work for your benefit’ pilots – compulsory work-experience schemes for long-term unemployed people. The more work experience resembles real work the more it demands real pay; anything else is unfair to unemployed people – they are the victims in the economic tragedy, but they are being treated like criminals.
- The ‘personalised conditionality’ regime for parents of young children, backed up by tougher benefit sanctions will necessarily lead to increased hardship in vulnerable families.
- Abolition of the adult dependency supplements to Maternity Allowance and the tightened contribution conditions for eligibility to contributory ESA and JSA will further reduce the scope of National Insurance and force more claimants into means-testing.
- Contracting-out Jobcentre Plus services, despite the lack of any evidence that private organisations will perform any better than the public sector.
In the past ten years, no social security legislation has aroused as much concern among union members. That is why the next TUC Social Policy Forum will be entirely devoted to the Welfare Reform Bill. The Forum will take place at Congress House at 10.30 on Friday 3 July. Places are free, and you can register online: visit http://www.tuc.org.uk/events/detail.cfm?event=3107