In 2003, under a Labour government, I claimed benefits for one month before starting work part-time and then coming off benefits once I was earning more than the £53 a week (incidentally the same amount paid out 12 years later).
Between 1994 and 1996, under a Conservative Government, I claimed benefits and was actively discouraged (such as a guy yelling at me ‘you should be looking for a job’) from pursuing the journalism work I was already getting, which lead to a place on a postgraduate course, an industrial placement and then full time employment for 5 years.
You only need to watch League of Gentlemen’s character Pauline to see exactly what this was like. The lady who ran the Job Plan Workshop in Holloway (not the prison!) was called Pauline too.
In the 1990s, I attended Job Club everyday, job plan workshop and when I disclosed 2 days work (not acquired through the Job Club but on my own esteem, but I wanted the kind lady running the Job Club to get credit) I was hauled into a backroom in the Job Centre to be threatened and grilled about taking work before telling the welfare state.
This is to point out what the emphasis was on during these 2 time periods. Only through my limited experience of course. It also shows that a working system could still now be created by focusing on employment instead of on unemployment.
Setting people impossible targets that they have no control over (especially with a system of rewarding companies for taking on, for instance, 18-24 year-olds for ‘apprenticeships’, while preventing employers from stating the criteria in the advertising, therefore wasting over-age applicants from wasting their time by applying, with age discrimination laws that work against their intended purpose).
Why not just reward companies for creating jobs by bringing industry into the UK? If tax law could be used for anything, it could be used for encouraging job creation. After all, do we want to be so dependent on other countries instead of increasing our own self-sufficiency.
What I have never understood is the arrogance of politicians that seems to prevent them from looking at what works in other countries and copying it in the UK. The first time this thought occurred to me was over the French rail network.