Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Day Tripper

It's been a long time since I had a chance to take a good look at Brussels, since I first came to the city twenty years ago and believe me it's changed. It's a traffic gridlocked North African city, which in fact could be any other modern European city, like Lyon, same faces, same marked changes in a generation with the 'veil' evident everywhere one looks along the ring road suburbs into from the Eurostar terminal to the centre of town.

Changing the subject completely, I had a council meeting early this morning and walked past the Job centre, which now has a sign displayed, informing potential job seekers that they need to wear shirts when visiting the building. Now if you need to be told this, then the chances of your finding any work would strike me as being rather remote but Thanet, now has third generation families who have never worked and with a growing army of teenage mums, the fourth generation is just around the corner.

How I wonder, in addition to generous tax credits, education for all and government support, do we reverse a situation where a significant proportion of our society will never find work or even aspire to work, however hard society tries to help. We are discovering, as the the Americans have done before us that a welfare state only stimulates a growing welfare society, regardless of good intentions. What's the solution if there is one in an area like our own where the balance is disproportionate in contrast to other disadvantaged areas of the country? After all, if we are to see local economic regeneration working, we need to see a growing and indeed thriving, local economy offering skilled labour and that, in real terms, means cutting unemployment by at least 50% simply to bring us back on a par with other areas of the South-east.

But businesses increasingly want skilled workers and if you look at London, then the unskilled sector is being rapidly filled by Eastern European labour. So what's left if you don't happen to be a rocket scientist or a research chemist. Nobody appears to have an answer in central government other than to deliver platitudes on creating a world-class workforce, which for many of the most succesful large companies, exists in Mumbai and Shanghai rather than closer to home in Britain.

What's your view?


Anonymous said...

it is no wonder to me that unemployment is at its highest since 1977.
now listen to my story, last week i graduated from university and have since been looking through papers and internet sites for suitable employment.
however i went into the so called jobcentre yesterday and inquired if someone was on hand to give me job advice... and what happened? a piece of paper was thrust in my face and i was told to call to make an arrangement so i could meet an advisor at a later date!

now i ask what has happend to the days where you could walk in and some nice person would help you find suitable work?
its easier to sign on than it is to look for a job.... sad sad sad.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree although it is stupidly difficult to sign on if you actually need the money whilst looking for work and incredibly easy if you're just lazy. Job hunting is a tough old one and the job centre really don't help, nor do they really care they just say "have you got one yet" I reply no and get some free money. Easy peasey!

DrMoores said...

Pity the young pilots working with me. It can cost £30,000 to train-up to an ATPL qualification with technical and practical exams to make your head spin but can they find jobs, mostly not unless they spend out another £20,000 of their own money to get a type rating for a 737 or 757 simply to make them more attractive and so that Ryan Air and others don't have to pay for the training and then can pay them a pittance.

If it doesn't work then they are in hoc for life!

In other countries, pilot training is subsidised but in the UK.. certainly not, which is why more and more jobs are going to the Europeans where the UK applicants have to compete with their legs tied together.

John said...

America, under Clinton, discovered a solution. Over five years they withdrew much of their social support (cash) and at the end of that period employment had markedly increased. Another point has just been made by an American observer. The earlier mass immigration - to the States but this applies to the UK as well - supplied manual labour which was required at that stage of the industrial revolution. (building roads etc required manpower unlike today) In this day and age the last thing we ought to be doing is allowing unskilled immigration which will only exacerbate the problem. Who will grasp these nettles?

Anonymous said...

I earn around £2,900 per month and am sick to death of paying out around £800 per month income tax of which a large proportion goes to support people who think the State owes them a living. People lack discipline, motivation and self respect. By the time you're past 40 you'll have blown it.

Anonymous said...

John makes a good point. Even immigrants boasting degrees need scrutiny. A local firm gave immigrant graduates, of electronics, a simple test. Design a basic battery charger.

None could do it.

All needed explanation of what a transformer, a rectifier and a ballast resistor are ....

And none could understand the explanation.

Perhaps they bought their qualifications courtesy of Cyril (as the Thanet tory saying goes)

Anonymous said...

Funnily enough I had a similar discussion with a colleague who used to work in the DSS. His argument was basically that we couldn't cut down welfare to most of these people because they are too stupid to fend for themselves. What he claimed was they would spend their money on beer and cigarettes and be broke by the end of the week and require more funding from the state.

My argument was that if true maybe these people need to take a bite of a "reality sandwich" perhaps if they really did go hungry it might just give them a clue that they need to make lifestyle changes.

John makes a very good point. Clinton was forced into a corner by a hostile Congress and Senate. He had to sign the bill cutting welfare primarily to unmarried young women. The Democrats (Labour's US equivalent) were claiming it would lead to anarchy and starvation etc. The result was a massive cut in welfare and a huge drop in unemployment.

Gerald Ford famously once observed "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have."

We have a growing army of people in Britain that now nothing about going to work to earn a living. The majority of these people are poorly educated and unskilled. In an age where we facing increasing competition from India and China this does not bode well for us. Where will the money come to pay for this?

As for the old bogey of immigration. The biggest problem I see here is the overall uselessness of our social security system. The majority of "immigrants" I suggest come from Europe. Allowing "Europeans" access to our welfare system is madness. I think it likely that if you tipped up in Spain or Holland and asked for a handout the reply would be short and sharp, ending in off.

In Britain however we have High Court judges ruling that kicking out (for example) Dutch people of Somali extraction who are in receipt of housing benefits and welfare is unlawful. Despite the fact that they are "not economically active"

The only good thing about this kind of lunacy is it will hopefully bring about the collapse of the welfare system sooner rather than later. The results are likely to be rather painful however for many.

Anonymous said...

Clinton signed a bill stopping welfare to single unmarried young women????? So you could be single, unmarried, young and male but still get help?

Well I NEVER!!!!

PLEASE LAY OFF SINGLE MOTHERS!!!!!!! I wrote a letter to the Gazette a couple of weeks ago. The ones you want to get are the ones who have BOTH parents at home and/or living in Thanet and who do not work. Cut the benefit of the MAN, not the woman, for WE have the prime responsibility for the children.

Anonymous said...

"Clinton signed a bill stopping welfare to single unmarried young women????? So you could be single, unmarried, young and male but still get help?"

No that's not what I said.
You can read it here in Bill's own words if you like.


I could be facetious and say there wasn't such a problem with single young men as they were mostly in prison. The point is these women did not need to work as the state picked up the tab there was no incentive to change. The republicans forced Clinton to accept there was a need to change and this worked beyond expectations and destroyed the arguments of people like Ted "The Swimmer Kennedy"

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Ted "The Swimmer" Kennedy. Great!

Must visit Chappaquiddick one day.

Simon's point has a string starting here as well

Anonymous said...

I agree with a lot of what has been said about cutting benefits to certain sectors but what hasn't been suggested is a general shake up of the tax and benefit systems in tandem to make it more worthwhile to get a job. This would start by raising the national minimum wage considerably - by at least £1 per hour, cutting the employers' National Insurance liability - currently it's 13 per cent - and raising the personal tax allowance figure up to around £10k per year. For married couples, the partner not working could transfer their tax allowance to the other person in work and double up.
Unemployment benefit could end after six months - we have to get used to the idea once again that unemployment benefit is a temporary thing designed to help people through a difficult time, not become a way of life - with no further claims being allowed for sometime after.
There should be more stringent assessments for those on disability benefit. Dedicated teams of specialists could carry out this work rather than relying on hard pressed GPs who might feel pressured to 'sign a sick note to be shot of the claimant'.
Child allowances can be given by adjusting tax codes rather than having the annual palava of filling in forms for the Revenue - a method which has proved hugely expensive and far from accurate. Look at how many billions of pounds have to be written off because the Revenue cocked up big time a couple of years ago!
All told we have to make it less worthwhile for people to stay on benefits and more worthwhile to seek employment and easier for employers to want to provide more jobs.
There's a good point raised about some people being too stupid to be employable but that means an overhaul of the education system too and some means of ensuring basic literacy and numeracy at an early stage.

Thanks. Rant over

Nick, Whitstable.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately some disabled people would suffer too much if this latest plan were to be implemented. Having a seriously disabled person in my family and knowing the day to day difficulties in obtaining benefit I don't think this would be fair. I don't think the abled bodied appreciate how hard it is to be disabled. Ttouble arises from not knowing the difference to the disabled and the workshy malingers

Anonymous said...

anon again!

The TDC should be made to encourage the unemployed.
No Work - No Money... easy.
The unemployed layabout should be taken on by the Council, and forced to do work like street sweeping, emptying dustbins, all week before they can collect their 'Dole' payment.
They do a similar sort of thing on the near continent after 3 months of unemployment.
It was found that this practice actually encouraged people to seek a 'better' job... rather than being compelled to stay doing the donkey jobs.
Ah, sorry, forgot... TDC haven't anyone with Organisatory Brains to design such a plan...

Anonymous said...

But if you made claiming disability and the associated 'carers' allowance harder then you would stop all those claiming because Little Joe has ADHD (not bad parenting!) and because once upon a time about 3 years ago they had ONE angina attack and now quite happily sit puffing away on their fags and living with their dogs!!!