One million of Britain’s lowest paid employees will be classed as “not working enough” and could find themselves pushed with the threat of sanctions to find more income under radical changes to benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions has said.
DWP internal documents seen by the Guardian reveal that people earning between £330 and around £950 a month – just under the rate of the national minimum wage for a 35-hour week – could be mandated to attend jobcentre meetings where their working habits will be examined as part of the universal credit programme.
Some of those deemed to be “not working enough” could also be instructed to take on extra training – and if they fail to complete tasks they could be stripped of their UC benefits in a move which departmental insiders conceded is controversial.
In a time of crisis like say, right about now, if there are 5 million job seekers but only 1 million jobs, it is always possible for any one job seeker to find a job if they’re flexible enough; it’s never possible for all of them to do so. Discussing the failures of the four millions left without jobs in terms of personal responsibility and analysing why they didn’t get a job (not educated enough, too educated, not willing to move, wanted too much money etc) avoids any discussion of the systemic failure of the job market.
People who profit from having a large class of unemployed (the reserve army of labour as somebody once called it) available, therefore will emphasis personal responsibility. In the UK this has influenced the ways in which unemployment is treated as a social problem, as the emphasis is now all on getting people off benefits and their personal responsibility in achieving this, rather than addressing the problems head on.