Compulsory Jobs Guarantee

Ed Balls

Labour have announced their answer to unemployment. They have called it a “compulsory jobs guarantee”.

“A One Nation approach to welfare reform means government has a responsibility to help people into work and support those who cannot, but those who can work must be required to take up jobs or lose benefits as a result – no ifs or buts.” – Ed Balls

Under the scheme those who have received Job Seeker’s Allowance for two years would be sent to work for six months. The scheme would be funded by reinstating tax on income used for pension contributions. On the face of it, guaranteed work is a great idea. Providing jobs for anyone that wants them is fine with me. I see a few problems though.

  • The work will only last six months.
  • Only people unemployed for two years will get it. (At first, anyway.)
  • We have no idea what that work will be, what organisation it will be with, or if it will be meaningful work or just activity to pass the time.
  • Removal of benefits for those who do not take up this unspecified compulsory work.

The compulsion is the biggest problem to me. There are lots of reasons why this work may not be a good idea. Off the top of my head, the unemployed person may be in training towards finding a job for themselves, they may be engaged in voluntary work in their field to keep themselves employable, or, indeed, voluntary work providing valuable services, they may have been judged fit for work and removed from sickness benefits while not actually being fit enough to do the compulsory guaranteed work, they may have childcare or other carer responsibilities that their work must fit around.

I have serious reservations about what organisations this work will be for. Current schemes, commonly derided as Workfare, involve sending people on benefits to work unpaid for supermarkets and shops such as Tesco and Argos, or in charity shops. These schemes are a direct subsidy to those businesses with free labour and result in less work available for paid employees. Sending people to work for a business for six months at a time would make this situation even worse with more loss of paid jobs.

It is my belief that there are not and cannot be enough jobs available for everyone. We are able to fulfil all our needs with less than full employment, and capitalism has already got providing things that we want covered. There are places where people could find work if only funding were available – healthcare, housing, and education and all those services and public sector jobs that have been cut. Government should invest in teachers, social housing and the NHS, which would boost jobs in those fields. The so-called “culture of worklessness” is a myth, and I believe that people would happily work in those jobs.

In my ideal world we would pay every citizen enough to live on, and working for more income would be optional but until then let’s at least get some social security that isn’t based on scrounger rhetoric.

More information

Ed Balls: Britain needs real welfare reform that is tough, fair and that works – Politics Home

Labour announce compulsory work scheme for long term unemployed – and those who refuse to take part could lose benefits – Labour List

Labour proposes ‘tough but fair’ jobs and welfare scheme – The Guardian

Recomended Reading

Why does everyone have to work? – A Latent Existence

Poor vs poorer – A Latent Existence

What might a world without work look like? – Nina Power – Comment Is Free

Are ‘cultures of worklessness’ passed down the generations? – Joseph Rowntree Foundation


Voters ‘brainwashed by Tory welfare myths’, shows new poll – The Independent


Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

30 thoughts on “Compulsory Jobs Guarantee”

  1. well the 1% cap on benefits rise has gone through. not enough there should be a cut on benefits. ppl work hard to feed their families not everyone elses.

    its amazing how the biggest whiners today are those on benefits that have everything provided for them, free house, car etc you name it they get it. shame noone is willing to listen to those concerns of those that work and contribute to their lifestyle in the first place.

    there are plenty of jobs out there but not ones that pay more than welfare, that is the crux. cut welfare and these will be filled also.

    1. Fuck you, you ignorant piece of shit. You know nothing, and one day you will rely on welfare that isn’t there any more. Just don’t fucking whine when you’re sick or unemployed and have nothing.

    2. I’m a “hardworking” senior manager and software developer in a small pharmaceuticals company, full of self-starters and “strivers” (of which I count myself as one). To provide a bit of balance to this twat, I pay my taxes to look after the most vulnerable in society, such as the disabled and for those who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own, such as redundancy. I do *not* pay my taxes for pointlessly spunking up in a two week sports event (as lovely as it was) or subsidising MPs lunches and expenses. Also, National Insurance contributions are paid out by me so I can make certain I’m paid some sort of sickness payment or unemployment benefit to me when (perish the though) I suffer a bit of misfortune.

      Why not recognise that life is not as structured, predictable or as stable as you think it is and that, sometimes, the world can be quite cruely arbitrary? That’s a polite way of telling you to grow a fucking conscience.

      1. “Why not recognise that life is not as structured, predictable or as stable as you think it is and that, sometimes, the world can be quite cruely arbitrary? That’s a polite way of telling you to grow a fucking conscience.”


    3. It’s easy to reach such a conclusion if you are in work, have yet to suffer a catastrophic setback such as redundancy or a health crisis, and if you are utterly lacking in empathy and compassion. One day, you or one of your family might need the welfare safety net. Who will you complain to if it’s no longer there?

    4. Of course, it hasn’t gone through, that was just the second reading. There’s more to come.

      No-one gets a free house, nor a free car, though HB will pay for rent and Motability allows people to spend their benefit on a specialist hire scheme. Of course, MPs used to be able to swing a publicly-subsidised home purchase on expenses, and some are still trying to do that.

      1. Sam it will go through dont worry about that. BBC fact from the Institute of Fiscal studies :- 60% of the population take more in welfare then contribute to the system. Any wonder GB is near bankrupt. I know you guys are worried as the good times are finally over but did you ever expect it to last this long in the first place?

        Shocking facts if 10 million households are affected by this then that shows the welfare state has gone well beyond something that is used for times of need but is now simply that is a ‘way of life’. Very easy to say ‘am on the sick’ when your occupation is asked and yes I have seen plenty that use pregnancy to obtain a house. Only when the ‘carrot’ is stopped will things change.

        Just maybe todays reforms go some way to saving this place otherwise RIP GB

        1. OK, let me ease your fevered mind.

          Most of the angst is not about 1% rise, its about the demonisation of sick and disabled people and societal attitudes towards the cuts they face.

          Add onto that the welfare cuts that will affect millions as well as the sick and disabled, and the cup floweth over with rage at the general lack of fairness being demonstrated towards all poor and vulnerable groups, including those with families.

          Take a step back and think about this;

          A young couple meet, marry and buy a house. They start a family, get degrees and buy a bigger detached house with a big garden. They have no credit cards and the husband is secure with plenty of work – his wife doesn’t have to work. They dont get benefits. Who are these people?

          Well they were my parents. They could buy a house for less than 2.5 times one wage. Jobs were for life. Education was free.

          Now a house costs 10 times the average wage, yet most people earn less than the average wage, because thats how averages work when the 1% earn millions..It distorts the average.

          Rent is more than the mortgage payments, but now people cant get the 20% deposits required or meet the mortgage payments. People can only pay their rent by a top up of tax credits and Housing benefit.

          This week the UK topped the league of disparate economies of the western world for having the largest inequality gap – we are on par with Korea.

          And this is the rage – its not about entitlement, its about fairness, and the 1% rise is not fair, it increases the gap between rich and poor. It has been justified by a campaign of lies, spin and demonisation, with the aim to blame the poor for the state of the economy, not the world wide banking crisis.

          Sadly you have bought into the myths in all your reincarnations.


    5. Oh look, another troll who can’t find the shift key. Color me underwhelmed.

      That being said..Dave, you have absolutely NO clue what you’re talking about. If you’ve been lucky enough in this life to have never needed a hand up, then bully for you. But please try to find it within yourself to have a little empathy and understanding for those who need that hand. Caring for the less fortunate is a crucial part of any society and really, living on welfare is not the picnic you make it out to be. Get your fucking facts straight and stop being a cruel, ignorant twat.

    6. Dave you’re nothing but ignorant pond scum. Please let me know when you develop a particularly nasty disease, esp if terminal, so I can come round your house and piss myself laughing RIGHT IN YOUR FACE.

    7. Oddly I am struggling to find one single correct belief in your comment – there are no “free” cars, just disability adapted lease cars paid for out of benefits.
      Houses are not free, housing benefit only covers the lowest 30th decile, so only pays well below the market rate, meaning that benefits are used to pay the difference, and ALL of that money goes to a landlord.
      It is not legal to cut benefits, again another gap in your education – especially if the cut is related to austerity.
      And it is very rare where a job pays less than benefits as most people in work are receiving some sort of benefit – child benefit, working tax credit etc. In fact it is single disabled people who find work who are the one group almost guaranteed to see a drop in income unless the job is more than 16 hours a week, which is beyond many sick and disabled people. And yet 47% of disabled people work.
      Maybe you should target your vitriol to something that you know something about, instead of shooting off at the gob about stuff you clearly dont have a clue about?

    8. Dave, I worked and earned an excellent wage for many years. I had a child who was diagnosed with severe Autism at the age of 2, her older brother was diagnosed with higher functioning Autism at the age of 6. At 39 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis – do you get the picture? Thank you for not supporting the disabled. I do hope your not unfortunate enough to have a serious illness or disability and have to deal with the attitudes of people like yourself. Cheers.

    9. Tell you what Dave, you really picked the wrong night to piss me off. My wife worked for over 26 years as a nurse. She was sacked for having a prolapsed disc (that’s where parts of your spine are crumbling, a feeling a spineless, gullible fool such as yourself could not possibly empathise with, even if you had a conscience.) Losing her career nearly killed her – I watched her slowly going through agonising pain every day, made worse by deep depression, triggered in a large part by feelings of guilt at being unable to take care of our family. Unlike the tone I hear from you and morons like you, she never whinged once and still doesn’t. Personally I have been involved with the mental health services since the age of 14. I have been diagnosed with some very scary illnesses that would make a bigot like you think twice about living next door to me, let alone giving me employment. You came on here to poke fun at sick and vulnerable people. What on earth made you so bitter? If you can achieve a house, a job and breed some offspring to fill with your bile, how come you can’t take pride in those achievements and quit bullying people with crap you read in the paper. You utter cunt.

    10. Free cars…can you please explain where I can get a free car, my mother who worked as a nurse for 40 years is disabled through a stroke, a free car would be wonderful. It might even help get her to the jobs you think she should be doing.

      By the way, what job can you suggest for a woman with left side paralysis, limited vision, limited memory, depression, constant pain, could do? Atos passed her fit for work, so she undoubtedly is faking when she cries from pain or asks me what the point of carrying on is.

  2. ‘What society is this where people get paid money when they choose to do nothing? Unfortunately, I know some of them personally. I came from overseas to work in academic research and 20 years later I can still not get my head round why the state pays our taxes to people that have not, and do not wish, to contribute into the system. 1% cap does not go far enough for some types of benefits.’

    The above is the top rated comment on the bbc. Sorry guys but the public support for this is rising. Why did it get voted through? You are going to lose a huge £3 a week they say whats that a pint down the pub? A few cigs. Hard choice huh??

    Another shocking fact today 60% of the population get more in welfare than they contribute in tax etc. How can any country survive like this? Finally the tide is turning. All the people on here can claim benefit for whatever reason but you all still have plenty of ‘mouth’ Dont forget its NOT your money you are getting before you start criticizing everyone. Be grateful for what get because you are not obliged to get anything. For this country to compete with others it needs to stop rewarding idleness, child production etc with free handouts etc

    1. Made up stats , where on earth do you get that 60% from? The biggest group of people receiving benefits in this country are pensioners, people who have paid in via serps and NI and are simply collecting what they paid as under any insurance plan. (thats why it is called national insurance.)
      As for your insulting idea that people with disabilities somehow magically appeared without ever contributing to society, could you elaborate on this more? Did they like you “arrive in this country to do academic research” ? I am confused because you say you came here, but seem to not understand the British tax system In the years you have been here have you ever visited a doctor, a hospital, used a school, called the police, driven on the motorways, visited a dentist?

      1. @twitter-267687804:disqus they are not made up that fact comes from the office of national statistics as that report highlights!!

        that comment was from the bbc hys I think he has no qualms about tax for a doctor. He just doesnt want his tax to go to generations of families that have never worked a day in their life of which there are plenty!

        Again it is total BS that you need to contribute first. How do people go on benefits straight from school? How does the single mom bang the kid out then straightaway get keys to her nice flat with spending money all inc.?? Complete rubbish that you need to contribute first. As all the reports higlight joblessness breeds joblessness and if you see your parents do nothing and just watch sky and smoke all the day you feel you can do the same and the system allows it.

        FInally there is a culture shift or RIP GB.

    2. “Don’t forget its NOT your money you are getting before you start criticizing everyone.” Actually, yes it bloody well is. I paid National Insurance for decades, so they aren’t “free handouts”.

      As for £3 a week being inconsequential, being just a “pint down the pub” or “a few cigs”, that comment just betrays how little you know of life on benefits. For me, as for many others, it’s the difference between eating every day or skipping meals.
      But then little shits like you won’t care about that, until it happens to you.

  3. Ha ha Mark. Your taxes do not come to people on entitlements. Your taxes go to paying the bank of england for making our money and thats just the interest. Your taxes go towards killing and murdering people in foreign countries in war so the west can loot the countries minerals for their own advantage. No disrespect to you Mark but you are blinded by the BS of governments. You will only wake up when the govt screws you over. You probably think that banks actually have money lol

  4. I work I cant afford to pay my rent or have 3 meals a day yet my wages are expected to fund you lazy lot who just sit on your butt all day? WTF how is that fair? I work to show my kids how it should be done but I know I would be better off on benefits but my conscience wont let me do it unlike millions of other families in UK where noone has ever worked.

    I havent had a pay rise in 3 years yet you lot expect one for doing f’all. why??

    My neighbour is a single parent doesnt work has a people carrier goes on 2 holidays a year and has her hair done in the best salon.

    How has Britain ended up like this?? Also where do you think your benefits come from? From a tree in the sky? No from mugs like me who work. There are plenty in this country that go on benefits straight from school so this idea you have to contribute first is complete horse shit.

    1. If you are that poor while working then you should be claiming housing benefit and tax credits. If you are not, you are an idiot. Who is at fault for this situation? Your employer, for paying you so little.

      As for us “lazy lot” you had better hope that you never get sick, never get old, never have an accident that changes your life. One day it could well happen to you or someone you love and then there will be no help. With an attitude like yours, perhaps that’s just karma.

    2. “There are plenty in this country that go on benefits straight from school” You’re right, youth unemployment is a terrible problem. I don’t know why you think blaming the disabled, elderly or otherwise unfortunate is at all necessary or logical.

    3. You would not be better off on benefits-mistruth number one.There are not millions of people that have never worked,mistruth number 2.Who are” these people “you so dismiss .People that have contributed and are still contributing,who spend their days in pain and discomfit but despite that they contribute in the best way they can.If they were doing nothing ,you in fact would be happier,all the more to beat them with your stick.If your neighbour can afford to these things and you cannot,perhaps you are in need of money management.You do not pay for their benefits and they are cost saving ones,perhaps think about the alternative.How would lessening the circumstances of “these” people help you in any way.I am genuinely sorry you think life is not treating you right but taking it out on those you know nothing about is exactly what the culprits who are causing your circumstances want.

  5. Dear Jane, please apply for housing benefit if you cant pay your rent. And working tax credit, and child tax credit, and council tax benefit. You would not be better off on benefits alone but you will be better off with top up benefits – benefits you are entitled to. Much better off than your neighbour. Except that you are a fictitious person just causing trouble, or incredibly thick, or both.

  6. If people took as much effort into getting benefit as in finding a job then they would be very well off indeed. The idea of being made fit for work is that you go and get a job!! It isnt so that you appeal, fail your appeal by the time that goes through you reapply for ESA fail the medical again and the saga continues till old age. The benefit reforms dont go far enough and it should simply be when you fail thats it you’re on your own do as you please. When ppl fail they are so used to having a handout for the past 10 yrs + they are shaken out of their comfort zone and have no idea what to do. The idea of working is an alien concept. Their answer is there another benefit I can claim not is there a job I can do to get money? They have never had to earn so are only used to 1st world begging.

    There are jobs my brother runs a hotel, he advertised for staff at the ‘living wage’ all applicants were foreign!! the benefit brits too lazy to apply and worse off by working. what a joke. Go to the 3rd world where ppl dont have 1 meal in the day. That is poverty unlike here where its if you dont have an Iphone 5 paid for by someone else.

    GB get a grip stop the £130 billion that is the welfare state. If GB wants to compete in the world market it cant afford to chuck money at ppl who simply bleed the system dry year on year. Let them decide their own fate rather than everyone else being forced to fund their lifestyles.

    1. “Made” fit for work? No, someone not qualified arbitrarily decides to declare a person fit for work. That doesn’t make them fit for work, it doesn’t mean they can work. It just means they are deprived of their income and suffer as a result.

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