Thanks for all your comments and support for the petition to raise the Jobseeker’s Allowance and improve the Jobcentre system. I’m pleased to say that so that far we’ve got over 450 signatures. Not bad when we started on Tuesday morning with about four.
I appreciate that the whole subject of benefits, as Rik has pointed out, is a hornet’s nest to say the least. Many of you have strong feelings for and against it and I’d say too, that my own attitude towards it is ambivalent. We’ve all heard the stories about benefits crooks claiming thousands of pounds to live in fancy homes paid for by the rest of us and many of us know people who have fraudulently worked the system to their advantage. Some of you who are struggling to get financial assistance have expressed your bewilderment at how they manage to do it. It’s deeply unfair and clear that the entire benefits system needs overhauling.
But I think some people have misunderstood the point of this petition. We’re not asking for more cash for benefits thieves or so-called ‘scroungers’, we’re not asking for the taxpayer to indulge people capable of working who don’t want to work. I appreciate that some of you believe that by increasing the Jobseeker’s Allowance it will discourage people from working at all, although I doubt how comfortable life would be on even £120 a week to encourage this.
However, what we’re asking for is more help for the people who really need it in this crisis – most of whom don’t want to be claiming the JSA anyway, they want nothing better than to be working and earning a living for their families. But there isn’t the work out there at the moment. Part of the problem is that because some of them have never claimed benefits before, they have no idea how to go about it and they don’t know how to navigate through the bureaucracy. But they have always expected that when they fell on hard times there would be something in place to help them, but they’ve found there isn’t, or that it simply isn’t enough.
Now, unfortunately, with any system there are always going to be people who abuse it. It’s a sad fact. But that doesn’t get away from the point that there are people who need more help and they simply aren’t getting enough of it. And I also take on board the argument that other measures are needed too, such as incentives for businesses, large and small. Without a decent climate for businesses, jobs can’t be created. Plus the taxpayer is already burdened.
But this is a petition, not a manifesto, and unfortunately a petition has to be focused. And I’m not claiming to set myself up as some kind of expert – far from it. I just think that the benefits and Jobcentre system needs to be overhauled sooner rather than later, people need targeted help to get through the bad times and I don’t think this is too much to ask. Perhaps you feel the same way? And, from what this policy officer at Oxfam argues, raising the JSA would actually cost a fraction of what it cost to cut VAT.
Thanks again for your comments and signatures and do keep them coming. Thanks, Piper
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