The headline news this morning was the multi-million trust-fund owner and tax-break giver George Osbourne stating that they'll be no money for nothing under their administration. They're going to make the long-term unemployed do community work.
What I find annoying anything about this is that they're partially right, but due to their indulgent background and rigid dogma they're doing it wrong.
First up is the non-explicitly stated, but easily-inferred, assumption that these people can't get jobs because they're lazy so let me tell you a tale.
A friend of mine works part-time and, coincidentally, also does voluntary community work. He was looking to supplement his earnings with another part-time job that complimented his existing employment. He applies for suitable positions and gets asked: "So you'll be giving up your other part-time job then?".
Why this question? Because they don't just want him to work the stipulated hours they want to be able to whistle and have him run.
Take my position - I've 20 years of IT and office admin experience and I can't get a job. Why? Well I saw one company advertising for an Admin post, an IT post, a Marketing post and for a PA. No that wasn't four jobs, that was one job combining skills that don't normally go together. I've applied for jobs that turn out to be nothing like what's been advertised and for ones in which I've been deemed too old and/or overskilled.
If it's a choice between employing someone young that you're not legally obliged to pay as much as someone older; or someone with no skills (or long-term unemployed) who has to take whatever shit the job shovels at them who would you take?
Yet according to good old George this is all our own fault. But is there a way around this, possibly.
Consider the local councils creating two 4-hour shifts a day over the whole week. Someone doing three shifts for the ~£70 a week in benefit would be on minimum wage. Given that technically they're already paid by the government why not work for the government?
As the local councils are already cutting staff etc. it's not really going to affect full-time staff and may require more managerial positions to oversee the 'community' workers. At the same time we'll see a reduction in litter, graffiti as well as tidier verges etc.
Except that's not going to happen as that would be an expansion of government over private enterprise. Far better to make people work for free for privately hived off services and charities than for the public sector.