John Halewood-Dodd: New policy could trigger an upsurge in criminal behaviour

John Halewood Dodd.
John Halewood Dodd.

This week’s Conservative Party conference saw Chancellor, George Osborne, announce the government’s plans to deal with the long-term unemployed by requiring that community service is undertaken in return for benefits. Somewhat ironically, this keynote speech was made under a banner which proclaimed that the Conservatives were the party “For Hardworking People”.

Whoever suggested the slogan wasn’t working very hard as there should be a hyphen in hard-working, but excuse my pedantry.This is a policy that the government believe will be popular with voters. There has also been a proliferation of rhetoric in in the media of late.

Phrases such as “ Striver v Skiver” and “Worker v Shirker” have been bandied about . The Chancellor when announcing the details of the’ Help to Work’ scheme, suggested the hard-working majority would no longer tolerate the unemployed getting “something for nothing”.

As such, some long-term unemployed will have to carry out up to 30 hours of community service per week. Others will be forced to spend up to 10 hours per week actively seeking work. The proposed sanction for not doing so is the removal of benefits.

This means those reliant on benefits would find their options extremely limited. My experience is that the Department of Work and Pensions are already much more stringent in sanctioning those who do not keep appointments with them and this already leads to benefits being suspended.

When left with no form of income many turn to illegitimate sources, such as theft or prostitution. Is this the type of society we want where people feel they have no alternative but to steal or sell their bodies in order to survive?