Jobcentre staff to scare schoolkids away from benefits they can't get

Fri, 14/11/2014 - 13:13 -- nick

We're used to new benefit initiatives coming from Iain Duncan Smith.

They rarely bring good news, being variations on the same theme which casts unemployed people as morally lacking, and desperately in need of regular kicks to make them into decent citizens.

His latest brainwave is to send jobcentre staff into schools to lecture pupils on the evils of benefits, no longer a social safety net to this coalition but a marker of failure.

Of course, under this government no-one is entitled to JSA until they reach 18, but apparently that isn't enough.

Smith has diagnosed a new problem, but being himself he felt the need to dress it up in the language of support even as he demonised.

Those who leave school at 16 have two years "where they will bump around, maybe doing a bit of cash in hand work, probably not doing much at all" he told Mail Online.

He believes preventing them from accessing jobcentre support until they are 18 "isn't good enough", conveniently forgetting that a jobcentre's main work now is in checking benefits and sanctioning people, and the reason why young people aren't attending is because the coalition took away their right to benefits even if they have been working and paying National Insurance.

Smith also manages to pull off a 'double demonise', suggesting young people are both not working and evading tax illegally.

Jobcentres have come in for huge criticism recently.

They should be abolished, or at least face competition, says a favourite government thinktank. They are failing most of those they are meant to help, with only a third of clients getting into work. Benefit sanctioning rates have doubled since the last government left office, making it look like their primary purpose is taking money from people rather than supporting them.

What hasn't been said is that they are good at providing careers advice, and can act as experts since the government chopped funding for jobs guidance specialists.

Perhaps the support idea is entirely misleading, and jobcentres are going to be part of a 'scared straight'-style programme like that which sees prisoners go into schools to show bad boys how terrible life can be if you go off the right track.

A few stories of how ridiculously easy it is to lose JSA and be thrown into poverty and Bob's your uncle, young people will never claim benefits because they are scared of the shocking reprisals.

This is the ultimate policy expression of a government with such obvious disdain for the poor - a generation trained from a young age to hate and fear the very idea of welfare, to see it as a stain on their characters and a route into misery.

Trying to force these ideas on them when still at school is the ultimate end for this coalition of hate.