It was no surprise to see the new Conservative-dominated coalition government launch an attack on ‘dole scroungers’ while turning a virtually blind eye to the bigger problem of ‘tax dodgers’. Mrs Thatcher did the same thing when she came to power in 1979.
Among the wheezes floated by the present Cabinet is the idea of cutting jobseekers’ housing benefit by ten per cent if they have been out of work for 12 months, even if they have done everything possible to find a job.
That would be an act of brutality. Already many if not most claimants receive a housing benefit payment which is not enough to pay their rent; they have to top it up out of benefits meant for other things such as food.
Piling on the hardship and making unemployed people even more miserable and demoralised does not increase the number of job vacancies.
And what about landlords? What would happen if a private landlord has a good tenant who is out of work more than 12 months and can’t afford the additional top up? Is the landlord to evict the tenant or simply put up with the shortfall in rent?
Another government proposal is to stop benefit payments for 12 months to addicts of alcohol and other drugs if they refuse treatment. Details do not seem to be available at present, but the implications for crime and disorder are obvious.
A town such as Rhyl could be thrown into chaos by spiteful and ill-considered cuts to welfare.