Iain Duncan Smith was interviewed on the Andrew Marr show today. He made some telling statements.
“I understand she said she wasn’t paid. She was paid jobseeker’s allowance, by the taxpayer, to do this.”
Funny, the government have always said that this wasn’t a work-for-your-benefits scheme but IDS seems to think it is. In fact, the official response by the DWP to a petition to abolish Workfare said:
“We do not have Work for Your Benefit or Workfare schemes in this country.”
Furthermore, in a response to a Freedom of Information request the DWP said:
“Benefit is not paid to the claimant as remuneration for the activity. “
“Instead, performing it is one of a number of conditions which may have to be fulfilled by the claimant in order to be paid Jobseeker’s Allowance. The relationship between the claimant, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and any third parties involved in providing the activity is not one of employment.”
In my opinion that is a serious mistake by IDS. If, as IDS says, benefits are being paid as wages for work experience schemes, then it I suspect that it breaches minimum wage laws. If they are not, as officially claimed by his department, then we have forced unpaid labour. I thought that people paid National Insurance in the expectation that when people needed help they would be supported. Having to work for it is a breach of contract.
“I’m sorry, but there is a group of people out there who think they’re too good for this kind of stuff.”
People don’t think they’re too good for shelf stacking, they think they’re too good for shelf stacking without receiving a fair wage for it. Is “A fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work” really a controversial statement in the 21st century?
“Who is more important – them, the geologist, or the person who stacked the shelves?”
Every person is important, including shelf stackers. Geologists are pretty important especially in the oil industry.
“Let me remind you that [former Tesco chief executive] Terry Leahy started his life stacking shelves.”
He was paid for it!
Iain Duncan Smith was interviewed by James O’Brien on LBC who put the question of remuneration to him. Listen: