With the new government comes a new opportunity to rethink welfare and benefits

For too long, too much emphasis has been given to sticking plaster policies but not to social transformation

I suppose I identify mostly with those who are leading a drifting and broken life of poverty. Those who in my younger days I was most like. Moneyless, hopeless and often antisocial. Restless, reckless, feckless and lost. Not sure of anything other than trying to get by. Appalling education, appalling social skills and appalling futures.   

The big difference between now and my young times is that there was, then, no government relief to rely upon. You were on your own. You had to fit in, get a job, find unsavoury work; you had to find the means to pay your way.  

All that has changed through the years since the ’70s when I was a young man. Now, especially since so many redundant workers were put on social security when Thatcherism closed down basic industries, social security has become the place to warehouse people. To keep them ticking over. Never to lift them out of the poverty that they find themselves in.  

But so much else has also changed. Even as a n’er-do-well you could always get a reasonably cheap room and find a job that enabled you to make enough to support yourself. More difficult for families, especially large families, often dependent on one wage earner. Then, poverty ate away at life and made people old before their time.  

The state increasingly encroached on poverty – did not get rid of it, but made it almost liveable. But still it was poverty, and social security was used as a means of keeping people out of the streets and homelessness.  

The rescue packages that various governments of different political persuasions handed out to people in poverty rescued no one, but took away the wretchedness of destitution. Took away the worst vestiges of slum dwelling – but not its entirety.  

Read the full article at – www.bigissue.com/opinion/new-government-labour-welfare-benefits-reform/

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