The Taxpayers’ Alliance appear to have wound up half of the internet this morning with their new report arguing for mandatory participation in community work in return for benefits money. It would save some £3.5 billion a year and help 345,000 off welfare.
It is a fundamentally commonsensical idea; those who have struggled most to motivate themselves to enter the world of work would be given the push they need. Those who lack the skills required to compete for jobs would be able to strengthen their CVs and make themselves more attractive to the jobs market. It also means that, through the community work undertaken, the taxpayer is actually getting something back for his hard-earned money rather than merely funding the lifestyles of the feckless. Even Labour think it’s a good idea. Well, Frank Field, but still:
“Labour needs seriously to look again at Work for the Dole. The next Labour government must ensure that claimants are not simply left drawing benefit rather than having an offer of work. Benefit payments should help form the pool of resources to fund Labour’s future jobs fund Mark II.”
Interestingly for all the left’s hand-wringing there seems to be a lot of public support judging from the surprised and disappointed reaction of BBC radio phone-in presenters today. It would be interesting to see some polling on this. Throw in the welfare cash card and they might be on the something…
UPDATE: Turns out some polling has been done on the idea already. According to Populus, the public overwhelmingly back the idea: