Benefit policies for the 2015 election no. 1: recognise voluntary work

Tue, 20/01/2015 - 14:50 -- nick

Welcome to the first in a series of new blogs putting forward ideas on improving the benefit system and the wider experience of unemployment in the UK.

We have been accused of being too negative sometimes, criticising the government for its attacks on the workless and other poor people but offering no alternatives.

It can't have escaped your attention that there is an election in May, so this is the perfect time to set out some new policies that would improve the lot of the unemployed.

Tories aspire to full employment - but will do nothing to get there

Mon, 19/01/2015 - 17:32 -- nick

Full employment is the holy grail of work promises.

Any politician worth his salt should be making it, and Tory Prime Minister David Cameron is the latest to give it a spin.

Emboldened by an unemployment rate of 6% and falling, Cameron and his government have been flirting with a commitment of this type for some time, but, perhaps seeing how little substance there is in his recovery, he has instead called it an "aspiration".

Al Murray, Pub Landlord, struggles to lampoon all-noise UKIP

Thu, 15/01/2015 - 14:05 -- nick

Al Murray, Pub Landlord, has announced he will stand as a candidate at the 2015 general election in Kent's South Thanet seat.

The comedy character will be up against both the current Tory MP, Laura Sandys, and UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who has targeted the area because it has been described as “an economically stagnant coastal seat, where there are lots of older, white and angry voters”.

The Pub Landlord bases his comedy on a mixture of little Britain jingoism, hard right politics and sexism, so it is no surprise that he wants to stand next to Farage, their patron saint.

Inflation falls to 0.5%, but will this trigger more benefit cuts?

Tue, 13/01/2015 - 14:03 -- nick

The UK's inflation rate has plummeted to a long-term low of 0.5% - but will a new Tory government use this as an excuse to cut benefits further?

The falls have been led by petrol prices - which few unemployed people use - and food - which we all have to buy, meaning some much-needed relief on the incomes of the poorest.

At other times luxury goods have led rises and falls in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) which is the government's preferred measure of inflation, and this is why we oppose its use for working out the level of benefits.

Will CBB finally end Katie Hopkins as a benefit commentator?

Thu, 08/01/2015 - 13:40 -- nick

The line up of this year's Celebrity Big Brother has been announced, and it shows a familiar bunch of has-beens, never-weres, side-show freaks and fake controversialists.

Into that last category falls Katie Hopkins, newspaper columnist and scourge of the unemployed and benefit claimants.

Hopkins has form as a reality show monster, with stints as the baddie on both The Apprentice and I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, but she has so far managed to intersperse these shows with being taken semi-seriously as a poverty commentator.

Anti-benefit TV programme front page news - but only in Express

Tue, 06/01/2015 - 14:17 -- nick

I didn't watch last night's Channel 5 show Benefits: Too Fat To Work.

The broadcaster seems to live by the maxim 'if it's too bad for the other channels, we'll have it', taking Big Brother, Neighbours and Home and Away from those that had already rejected them, and this means it will always be fifth choice for most people among the five terrestrial providers.

Unemployment falls slow down and cuts may see it rise again

Wed, 17/12/2014 - 13:06 -- nick

The last set of unemployment figures for 2014 have been released, and they show a slowdown in the falls we have come to expect.

The number out of work went down by 63,000 over the three months to October, but just three months ago the drop was 146,000.

There is still a growing problem in that universal credit claimants aren't included, and it is to be hoped that the Office for National Statistics finds a way of working out how many of them there are so we can have confidence in its figures.

Bad work is worse than no work, so why should unemployed people take any job?

Tue, 16/12/2014 - 15:14 -- nick

Should unemployed people be forced to take any job?

I was interviewed recently on LBC Radio in connection with the case of Greencore, a sandwich-making business which is opening another factory in Northampton in 2016. The firm needed 300 new staff by then, and with 8,000 people currently unemployed in Northampton the question was why the company was concentrating its recruitment efforts in Hungary.

Another Mail fail as it misleads readers on benefits

Wed, 10/12/2014 - 14:07 -- nick

We are used to the Mail banging the drum on benefits and migrants.

So the online tattle and celebrity bikini photo provider must have been delighted to find a story that it thought would allow it to join the two things together with a sprinkle of EU flavour, with the aim of bashing them all.

The first casualty of their dribbling excitement is, of course, truth.