Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Councils Under Tories May Set Benefit Levels.

with 10 comments

Tories may give councils power to set benefits

Toby Helm. Guardian here.

Under the proposal benefits would be lower where it was easier to find work, and councils would also be given incentives to help people find jobs.

The Conservative Treasury team are holding talks on handing responsibility to local councils for setting and distributing benefits such as the jobseeker’s allowance.

A move to setting benefit rates to match the needs of local labour markets has been pushed by radical Tory councils but it is the first time that the frontbench has embraced the concept.Speaking at a conference organised by the New Local Government Network in London, the shadow chief secretary, Philip Hammond, disclosed that he was holding talks on the issue with Conservative councils, including Kent.

He said: “There are some key challenges we will have to face in delivering this agenda. Can we take the public with us in this agenda? Can we persuade people living in your area, for example, they would rather see the management of workless benefits in the hands of a local authority than in the hands of a national government setting standards nationally?”

He said “huge potential savings” were available, adding that he regarded local government as pivotal to reducing the public sector deficit.

Under the proposal benefits would be lower where it was easier to find work. Councils would also be given incentives to help people find jobs. The plan has not yet appeared in any formal document.

In Ipswich this would be an utter disaster. The Liberal-Tory administration has attacked public services: shut down local Housing Offices, closed the Film Theatre, closed Crown Pools Car Park, hived off work to ‘consultants’, threatens to shut a residence for homeless families, and is now  privatising Ipswich buses. They refuse to deal properly with the needs of growing numbers of street sleepers.

Their attitude to the poor is summed up by one leading Tory Councillor saying that their new ‘Community Centre’ in an old town Church (St Lawrence Centre)  will “keep the riff raff out“.  

Put that lot in charge of the dole and we will be queuing at Charity soup kitchens in no time.


Written by Andrew Coates

January 28, 2010 at 12:23 pm

10 Responses

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  1. Good (thats not great but just “good”) “concept” but will result in a post code lottery which will not work.

    Handing down power is a good thing to an extent, however, we need to prevent counties becoming states (referring to USA where different states have different laws)

    Flexible New Deal

    January 28, 2010 at 12:45 pm

  2. Will benefits be higher where it’s now practicly impossible to find any work? If so Lowestoft is going to rocket to the top of the rich list over night.

    Lowestoft's Finest

    January 28, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    • Ironically, it will probably work in absolute reverse:

      Strong job market = high benefits
      Poor job market = low benefits

      This will be nonsense anyway – who will pay for benefits?

      Council tax and business rate payers Or from the budget as is now?

      I can’t see there being a central amount of money budgeting for benefits where councils can apply for the amounts they want; this means it be central Government dictating benefit rate levels with the Council replacing Jobcentre Plus?

      Flexible New Deal

      January 28, 2010 at 7:51 pm

      • This has been done in the past, and it didn’t work then. Back in the 30s the dole was organised locally like this, and Merthyr Tydfil – still bad for unemployment – had the highest rates in the UK to pay for it. Today’s national system, bad as it is, stems from the lessons of those dark days. People need to realise that this retrograde step will jack up their council tax, maybe then they won’t have it!

        Dan Owen

        January 29, 2010 at 12:06 am

      • I thought that was the case!

        Does this mean a 21st century poll tax?


        Flexible New Deal

        January 29, 2010 at 8:32 am

  3. Lowestoft, part of the ridiculous nature of this proposal is that labour markets/areas of poverty or wealth, will not correspond exactly to council bounderies. So we’ll have (if there’s a unitary Suffolk County-wide council) places like Lowestoft and Ispwich put in with say Southwold.

    Both Ipswich and Lowestoft have districts of great poverty. Each of the wards most affected (here it was the old Town ward where I live) got special government grants for regeneration as some of the poorest in the country a few years back.

    How anyone can make a system work on this basis is beyond me.

    What is worrying is getting local councillors like the ones in Ipswich, who hate the working class and unemployed, in charge of any aspect of the Dole.

    Andrew Coates

    January 29, 2010 at 9:49 am

    • I think the whole idea is just pie in the sky thinking and will not get any further. One of the problems is opposition policey units and think tanks arn’t funded and so normaly consist of about two people with no qualifications or experiance in the subject, who still have to come up with something end result a load of twaddle. The reason the Torries love local government so much at present is becouse they were voted in all over the country in council elections with a landslide protest vote against the Labour government. I also think they are stealing an idea from Labour who want to push more and more government work onto councils as they can then make national government expenditure cut backs and when council tax goes up to pay for all this additional local council work the government can blame local government. I don’t think that any local councils are caperble of taking on the job of the DWP and to think they are shows a worrying lack of knoledge by the Torries who have probably been boyed up by local councils involvment with labour’s welfare to work idea. On a wider front the whole thing smacks of Victorianism to me, and I don’t think the full ramifications have been thought through for instance no council will wan’t to take social housing if everybody who is going to come and live in it will be unemployed so will staight off effect that areas council tax, also it will lead to a back lash against the unemployed who will get driven out of some council wards, and it will also be a hate crime charter against Gypsies and travellers as they will be driven off as soon as they park up becouse they will be viewed as having hands straight into the council tax payers pockets if they sign on in an area.

      Lowestoft's Finest

      January 29, 2010 at 3:05 pm

      • What worries with me the Tories is they seem clueless yet people still want to vote for them!

        Flexible New Deal

        January 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm

  4. What tiggles me the most is why would anyone consider voting for someone who is so uncertain in what they are going to do?

    People want achievable realistic promises that a political party is going to see through to implementation! Not so random ideas that only appeals to a certain type of voter ensuring a wider range of people will vote.

    Flexible New Deal

    February 1, 2010 at 10:10 am

    • I’m pretty positive that governments are voted out on a tide of voter ill that has built up to a peak basicly becouse the public are long since sick of their Bullsh*t. Not voted in for their idiology (like the political parties like to tell us). I think my public sick of theory is born out by the fact that that the ex old school regime politicians like Hillary Clinton or Michael Howard though scoring highly with their party never come back well with the public.

      Lowestoft's Finest

      February 1, 2010 at 11:48 am

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