Friday, 4 January 2013

Labours one nation workfare plus

Today the Labour party lead by Ed Miliband and Ed Balls has come out with one of their first proper policies they will be campaigning on in the next election. You may be thinking oh yes at last some labour policies that will challenge this government and its rhetoric and stand up for the poor. You’d be sadly mistaken. Labour as the socialist party predicted has capitulated to a Tory agenda a right wing neo liberal agenda too. Labour who were the party to introduce workfare when they were last in gov have gone further this time and have unveiled plans for what I’m calling “workfare plus”. adow chancellor said those earning more than £150,000 should only receive basic rate tax relief on their retirement savings. This would mean they could only get tax relief of 20 per cent on their savings, compared with 50 per cent today, and 45 per cent from April. It would cost high earners thousands of pounds each year. The money raised from the scheme, estimated to be at least £1billion a year, would be used to effectively pay private firms to hire the long–term unemployed. Mr Balls's pensions tax raid would be introduced in addition to Coalition plans to restrict annual retirement savings. It is one of Labour's first major tax announcements as the party comes under growing pressure to disclose its policy plans. Experts have warned that the proposed system risks ruining company pension provision as high–earning executives would close down their schemes for workers. Balls said: "When times are tough it cannot be right that we subsidise the pension contributions of the top 2 per cent of earners at more than double the rate of people on average incomes paying the basic rate of tax." Under the Labour scheme, the money raised would be used to fund a minimum–wage job for anyone who has been out of work for at least two years. There are currently 129,400 people aged over the age of 25 in that position. The long–term unemployed would be forced to take up the job offered to them or they would lose the right to claim benefits. "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," Mr Balls said. "Tackling long–term unemployment will be a top priority for the next Labour government because we know from the 1980s that it has a scarring effect on individuals and communities, damages our economy and society, and builds up long–term costs for the taxpayer." The proposal is similar to one first announced by Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling in 2009. The scheme was scrapped by the Coalition, which instead introduced an annual limit on the amount that can be saved in a pension. However, Mr Balls is thought to now favour having both tax restrictions. In response Youth Fight for Jobs has been quick out of the blocks in opposing this Tory light idea and has put out the following statement on its website Paul Callanan, Youth Fight for Jobs and Education national organiser said: “Today Labour unveiled a new scheme to get the unemployed into work and training. This scheme will see people who have been unemployed for more than two years forced to take up a government provided job. Tellingly, Balls and Byrne are yet to say whether these jobs will come with a secure, long-term contract or whether this will be just another workfare style wheeze. Short-term or insecure contracts will leave the doors open for companies to use unemployed people as a source of cheap labour. When it comes to people seeking work, Labour have bought into exactly the rhetoric of lazy workshy scroungers as the Tories. Yet again politicians say they will stop benefits for those who don’t take up a job. YFJE says that if politicians are serious about getting people back into work then they would support our demands. Rather than cutting public sector jobs, the government should be making sure that people get the training and work they need. They could invest in socially useful public works to provide jobs and apprenticeships. And all of these jobs should offer a long term secure contract, paid a living wage. Today’s announcement from Labour demonstrates the fact that none of the mainstream parties have any answers. YFJE will continue campaigning against austerity and for a future for ordinary people. Youth Fight for Jobs was launched on 2009 in response to rising levels of youth unemployment. We have recently completed the 330 mile Jarrow March for Jobs. We were backed by the Unite, PCS, RMT, CWU, UCU, FBU, BECTU and TSSA trade unions. ENDS With extracts taken from the Daily Telegraph article at

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