Should People On Benefits Have To Work For Their Money?
Benefit entitlement has always been a contentious issue of debate within society and the debate has gathered even more strength as our economy sinks deeper into the doldrums. Yesterday appeal court judges ruled that the UK government has been acting unlawfully by forcing people to take unpaid work experience placements in order to keep their Jobless benefit payments. The 24 year old who brought the case against the government claimed that government work programs requiring unemployed benefit claimants to take on unpaid work placements were illegal as they broke slave labour laws. So should people who claim unemployment benefits be forced to work for their money or do these work programs actually amount to slave labour?
I do find it slightly Ironic that this court ruling was made on birth date of Abraham Lincoln. Slave labour was a scourge to mankind for centuries and some would argue that it still takes place in some area’s of the world. But do government work programs amount to slave labour? When most of us imagine slave labour we picture chain gangs, servants, sugar plantations or even civil war. Does being forced to work a few hours a week in a retail store really amount to slavery, especially when you’re receiving government benefits in return?
Are You Now A Government Employee?
Should the receipt of unemployment benefit allow the government to effectively become your temporary employer? Should they be able to send you out on to the streets to pick litter, have you maintain public parks or as in this case, send you on a work placement of their choosing to prove your willingness to work? The lady who fought against the government on the issue said that these government work schemes were a complete waste of time and that they were actually preventing her from looking for real work with a wage. She also claimed that they were stopping her from fulfilling her volunteer work which she felt offered her just as much, if not more opportunity to gain work experience as any government work placement ever could.
But is there another side to the argument?
What About Those Who Are Footing The Bill?
Taxpayers might argue that if we’re ever going to get rid of our benefit culture and encourage people back into work then we need to make people work for their benefits instead of allowing them to play the system, sitting at home all day with no intention of ever getting a job or paying their way. I grew up in quite a poor area where a lot of people lived on jobless benefits and I can honestly say that the majority of people had no intention of ever taking a job, in fact it was the subject of jokes. There are however a group of people out there who are desperate to find work, is it really fair that they are tarred with the same brush and made to work in unpaid jobs when they could be out looking for work?
What do you think? Should people be made to work for their jobless benefits or should they be spending their time looking for a job or volunteering?