Smoke and Mirrors on Welfare and Work by Mark G. Hayes

Durham Abbey House

Hayes, Durham, Theology, Catholic Social ThoughtThe announcement in the Queen’s Speech of a proposed Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill might suggest that the Conservative Workers’ Party had listened to the Archbishop of York’s call for a return to the values of Temple and Beveridge (see this blog , On Rock or Sand?, 17 February 2015). ‘Full employment and welfare’ suggests a concern for the dignity of work and a preferential option for the poor.

Beveridge defined full employment as a seller’s market in labour, meaning that every willing worker enjoys competition among employers for his or her services. Mr Osborne has redefined full employment to mean something completely different: the highest proportion of the working-age population in employment in the G7. Full employment in Mr Osborne’s sense is to be achieved partly by making unemployment as unpleasant as possible. So cuts in working-age benefits are to be justified as promoting full employment: hence…

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