Opinion Former Article

PCS: Welfare plans punish the vulnerable for government's failure

The government's plans to increase the sanctions on benefit recipients will do nothing to alleviate poverty without the creation of more jobs with decent pay, the Public and Commercial Services union says.

Responding to publication of the welfare reform white paper, the union says the coalition government is unfairly targeting unemployed people and seeking to punish them for the recession and a shortage of work.

Recent claims by work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith that people in Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales should 'get on the bus' to Cardiff to find work were immediately debunked by PCS, which pointed out that for every job vacancy in the city there were nine unemployed people.

Research by the union also showed the vast majority of job vacancies were temporary and part-time work, often doing unskilled jobs for just one or three weeks' duration.

Increasing sanctions on jobseekers and forcing some to do voluntary work to qualify for benefits is unfair, the union says. It is also unfair to ask jobcentre staff, who are already overstretched because of cuts, to police decisions about who should have their benefits cut.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "This is part of an orchestrated campaign by ministers to portray some of the most vulnerable members of our society as the new 'undeserving poor' to persuade the public that some cuts are fair.

"Not only is this cruel, it is directly at odds with the fact the government has admitted half a million public sector workers are set to lose their jobs, with even more expected in the private sector."

ENDS

Notes

- For information and interview requests, contact PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2747 or 07833 978216

- The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has more than 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, as well as staff in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich

- Follow PCS on twitter.com

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