Scroungers of the world unite …

The media repeatedly demonizes the unemployed, failing to show the reality of joblessness … now a survey shows that the nation is turning on the vulnerable in times of financial trouble, placing the blame at the feet of the poor.

A new survey from the National Centre for Social Research shows Brits as a small-minded, individualistic, mean-spirited bunch who think the needy should be left to rot.

In reality though more people are giving to charity – Brits who usually show generosity to those in need now respond to the poor and the unemployed in this way because they’re seriously, intentionally ill-informed.

The Daily Mail is, of course, full of glee at this news stating: “Britain turns to conservative values as recession bites: We want the State to stay out of our lives and sympathy for benefit claimants has evaporated.”

The media and politicians need to show the reality of the struggle to find work and to live on unemployment benefits so the results of the social attitudes survey can be taken more seriously.

  • 26% think poverty is due to “laziness” or “lack of willpower”.
  • 63% blame workless parents for children living in poverty
  • 54% think benefits payments are too high and discourage people from finding work
  • 75% recognise that the gap between rich and poor is too large but only 35% think the government should step in to redistribute wealth

In the mid-90s when we could all afford futons and focaccias those who thought the poor were lazy was just 15% and in 1983 those who thought benefits were too high was just 35%.

It is not a coincidence that people’s opinions are changing. It is convenient to blame the jobless for their situation and people are not given accurate information to truly understand life on the dole.

Thatcher said in the 80s – during mass unemployment – that there was no such thing as poverty, it was just that people didn’t know how to budget properly: Edwina Currie has been repeating this cruel dismissal of the poor rather than accept that government cuts are failing and unemployment is rising.

Today Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute says of those interviewed,

“They don’t want to see their taxes rising anymore and they also become less tolerant of people who are on benefits but not actually actively seeking work.

“When times are good and everybody’s well off you can afford to overlook that but I think now people are much more critical of folk who are on benefits and not actually doing something positive to get themselves off benefits.”

At risk of repeating myself:

When claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance you MUST prove you are actively seeking work at a fortnightly meeting or risk losing benefits. You sign a Jobseekers’ agreement to which you must adhere or you will lose benefits and have, literally, no income at all.

Jobseekers’ Allowance is just £67.50 per week – and the unemployed have no other income and are not allowed to work while claiming this.

Perhaps this is why the queues for food parcels are lengthening – with those facing delayed benefits, job losses, domestic violence, low income and homelessness among people in need.

Owen Jones, author of Chavs The Demonization of the Working Class, quite rightly responded,

“There aren’t enough jobs to go around. There’s over 2.6 million unemployed, there’s another million on Incapacity Benefit the government want to push into work – and there’s less than half a million vacancies.”

Less than half a million vacancies. Unemployment – and long-term unemployment – is inevitable while there are not enough jobs to go around.

There are 68 journalism jobs advertised on the Guardian jobs pages today; 39 on journalism.co.uk and Hold the Front Page has 14.

At my last Jobcentre Plus meeting I told my adviser I was now looking for jobs in book shops.

“I’ve no experience of sales,” I told him, “But I do know about books.”

“I’ll keep my eye out for you,” he said, with a supportive smile. “But in reality a lot of bookshops are struggling and closing.”

People are unemployed because the economy is failing and there are not enough jobs and too little being done to create them. As the government fails to act on unemployment the numbers losing their livelihoods increases every day:

News yesterday revealed:

Further news today reveals:

  • With a workforce of 1.6m people, local government is England’s biggest employer but its 353 councils have already cut 145,000 staff in the last year – and a new report says more cuts are coming.
  • Kraft Foods plans to cut 200 jobs at three of its sites in Birmingham.
  • Up to 220 jobs could go at a company that makes replacement joints in Wiltshire.
  • The number of permanent job placements fell at its fastest rate in November since July 2009, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation. A survey of 400 recruitment firms showed that unemployment will continue to rise in December and January.
  • British Airways said it will take on 50% fewer staff

Meanwhile Midland News Association, which publishes the Express and Star and Shropshire Star, has told staff it is looking for up to 50 voluntary redundancies from next month on top of 90 redundancies announced at the Wolverhampton and Telford-based titles earlier this year which saw overall headcount reduced by a tenth.

Further job losses are possible at Trinity Mirror as restructuring takes place at Scottish titles but the company is not confirming any details as yet.

Those civilian support staff, council and factory workers – and journalists – are not to blame for their job loss and won’t be to blame for the poverty they could be plunged into.

As a nation we need to consider who is really at fault.

Jobs I’ve applied for this fortnight: 18

Jobs I’m qualified and experienced for: 4

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2 thoughts on “Scroungers of the world unite …

  1. I am sure there are many unemployed like you (and indeed me in the past0. But it is sadly true that many are career Giroist. Seasonal jobs in the Fens areall taken by foreigners because, farmers tell me, local people won’t take them. In Anglesey where I used to live being on the Giro is often a career choice. Some of my chums there had it down to a fine art

  2. I discovered your blog not long ago, and I applaud you for not only continuing to carry on with your job search but also speaking up about hard social issues like poverty. Here in the U.S., I’m sorry to say that the blame the victim attitude is much the same as you describe in this post.

    My best friend, an accomplished PR professional and gifted writer, has been unemployed/underemployed for the last four years, and her benefits just ran out. She’s working towards getting into law school, but she’s also been scrambling looking for work.

    For my part, I am working three (no, that’s not a typo) part-time jobs: tutoring, working in retail, and substitute teaching. The hours and pay are such that I still get at least a partial unemployment payment every week. I just accepted a 30-hour-a-week job teaching preschool, which I hope to start the week before Christmas. I’m still keeping my retail job so I don’t leave my boss in the lurch before Christmas (recession or no, people in the U.S. are still shopping; also, I work in a toy store, so a lot of parents and grandparents bring kids in even if they have no intention of buying).

    I hope something works out for you very soon. No one can accuse you of being lazy.

    Your sister across the pond, Meghan K. Donovan

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