Westminster Council is planning to shuffle unemployed people to the bottom of the deck and give first dibs to those with jobs. They say it is
designed to recognise positive contributions to society, reward those who are in jobs and to encourage those who are not currently employed to seek work
We've been here before on Bristling Badger, and I've no doubt we'll have to revisit it in future, but here we go again. The government's own figures show that unemployed people outnumber the available jobs 5:1.
Once we see the rise in unemployment that the government expects to be caused by George Osborne's first budget, and the ranks are futher swollen by the millions of people on Incapacity Benefit who the government has decided are suddenly magically fit to work, that ratio will be more like 11:1.
You cannot expect people to get jobs that don't exist. Penalising them for not getting these jobs is an exercise in cruelty.
Westminster cabinet member for housing, Councillor Philippa Roe, said: "We want to introduce a system which is fairer to local people and rewards those in employment."
This is an attack on the fundamental reasons for having social support such as council housing and the benefits system. It is not there as a set of incentives and penalties. It is there to ensure that, in our wealthy society, no person has to fear homelessness, destitution, hunger or illness simply because they have no money.
These are risks posed to us all, so it is a kind of insurance. Also, societies with the greater gaps between richest and poorest have the most crime, so a robust welfare system protects everyone, even those who will never be poor.
But more than that, it is organised compassion. Most of us - Tory councillors evidently excepted - do not want to live in a place where people suffer for lack of any simple and cheap remedy. This is why previous generations of workers agitated and voted for the welfare state to come into existence. It was working people actively saying they do not want the unemployed to be punished for their predicament.