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Reform of Benefit Payments, the National Minimum Wage and Unemployment statistics

Comment 2nd July 2010

I believe that there should be a reform of both the system of benefits in this country, in line with a reform of the national minimum wage. If minimum wage had increased at the same level as the average cost of living, it would be much higher than the current rate of £5.80 per hour. This could decrease the number of people who were relying on benefits as the incentive to take a job, even a job at the minimum wage, would reap better rewards.

The amount of money paid as benefits should be decreased. A serious review should be conducted into the cost of living for families. This should include basic costings such as the price of food, rent, bills and clothing per person – specific to each area. This is the amount that the Job Seeker's Allowance should be based on. People should live on the breadline and consider the consequences of spending every penny. This would encourage people to search for jobs, in order to live more comfortably.

Disability living allowance should be more tightly regulated and the conditions for payment should be reformed (and if nothing else should no longer include blisters, indigestion, warts, coughs and sore throats). I am not heartless and understand the necessity of these benefits for people who genuinely can't work and appreciate that those who are truly needy should receive this help but it is currently too easy to abuse.

Why does this matter?

 

In the current economic climate, it is important to

a) Reduce the levels of expenditure

b) Increase the levels of revenue

Reducing the levels of unemployment, helps to both reduce the level of expenditure (through fewer benefits) and increase revenue (through taxation). However, hiding the true figures of unemployment does not help the situation. It breeds mistrust in the population when they're told that the levels of unemployment are dropping when they can see people around them are losing their jobs faster than new jobs are appearing. People who are on training scheme's are still not employed. Although it may make them more employable in the future, they are still not in a job and therefore should not be discounted from the unemployment figures.

Students at University should not be instantly discounted from the unemployment figures because otherwise it can be used by the government to hide the true scale of the unemployment crisis. Sending students to University does not guarantee a better class of job, just a better excuse for gaining debt. Official figures show that 10% of graduates are still unemployed 6 months after graduation. However, it does not state that the 90% who are employed received jobs in their respective fields. Someone holding a Masters degree in Engineering could be considered employed, and within the 90% even if they were washing pots in a restaurant or working behind a bar. These will not yield the salaries necessary to climb out of the mountains of debt that today's students are faced with.


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