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Workfare Slave Labour? No, it’s Education

by on February 23, 2012

Youth Fight for Jobs really does live in a cuckooland. The recent row concerning young people working in a back to work program for Tesco and other private companies,  without pay free really does beg belief.   Surely, as The Express and Guido Fawles make clear, doing some work (voluntary or not) for job seekers allowance is not slave labour. It is work in return for money, experience and education. Firstly I will refute that this is slave labour.  After which I will argue that this scheme is one of the best ideas the government has had and discuss the expansion which all taxpayers should be demanding.

Slave Labour?

Firstly this labour is voluntary and therefore cannot be slave labour. There is a choice between working for the allowance or not getting it. Furthermore, the argument that this allowance is below the minimum wage does not stand up to scrutiny either. The minimum wage is an artificial amount which bears no relation to the productivity of the individual working. Training people to do a job has a cost. If this cost outweighs the productivity, they should in effect be paying for training rather than receiving a wage. In this case a middle ground has been reached. Private firms get free labour in return for training and the taxpayer pays an allowance to those being trained (not dissimilar to education).

The Taxpayer a slave?…. more so

To a certain extent though, the hard working taxpayer is a slave to those who refuse to work. 20% of my wage goes straight to taxation through income tax and another 11% to national insurance add onto this council tax of £121,- per month and VAT at 20% of my disposable total income after all this then one will find that 43% of my income has gone to government. In effect I have been a slave for 43% of my time working purely to fill the government coffers. Considering I am contracted to work 40 hours this would be almost 17.2 hours a week (In reality I do a lot more than 40 hours a week, but that is my choice).  This is the true slavery. Those who contribute to society work more than half their life to pay for government, whilst those who do not pay tax are not willing to work 30 hours for their jobseekers allowance as well as some experience in the work place.

Great scheme should be expanded

As we have previously argued in “A Case for giving Something for Nothing”, we are against a minimum wage in the first place. This scheme enhances the productive capability of the population. If there was the combination of 1. people willing to take the job at minimum wage without 2. benefits being taken away and 3. an employer to take workers at this minimum wage, volentary unemployment would not exist.

1.       People will take a job at less than minimum wage, if they retain their job-seekers allowance and training / experience when holding down a job.

2.       People are threatened with losing their benefit, if they do not work. Sitting on the sofa doing nothing is easier than going to work and having a purpose to get out of bed. Sometimes you need to be tough to be kind.

3.       The productivity of the unemployed (especially with little experience at holding down a job) may not be as high as the costs of minimum wage. In this case cheaper labour (this includes a lighter burden of regulation) may entice companies to give people a job and the experience.

If these 3. problems with the unemployed were  tackled the labour market would become more competitive through lower real labour costs and would become more productive as former unemployed gain experience. One must not forget that training, education and experience all come at a cost. To a large extent the private sector covers this cost through on the job training. The public sector contributes with education.  This  scheme is no different, rather than tax payers paying for people to look for work, tax payers are just paying for people to work and gain experience. To a certain extent it is another way of paying for education.

Sources:

http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/government_expenditure.html

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/budget2011/rates-allowances.pdf

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