Saturday 3 March 2007

Brown Sets Private Sector on Attack on Unemployed

Gordon Brown will announce with John Hutton on Monday yet another review of welfare benefits to the unemployed. One of Brown's investment banker friends is to undertake the review. Clearly the Chancellor believes that an investment banker has so much more experience of welfare benefits than the unemployed themselves or the people who actually administer the systenm or give claimants advice.

Just an idea, why can't we have a review of the system undertaken by the claimants themselves for a change?

The main proposal being promoted by Brown is privatisation of the administration of welfare benefits. Private companies are to be given the responsibility for getting people into work. An incentive arrangement is to be introduced. The private company will be able to retain as profits a part of the unemployment and other benefits of the people they force into work.

This is a recipe for the intimidation and harassment of the unemployed to make profits for private companies. It appears that the Chancellor is vying with the Tories on who can be more brutal to the poor in our society.

If this is a taste of the policies planned for his fabled first hundred days as Prime Minister it stands as a stark warning to those party members, trade union general secretaries and Labour MPs who are considering backing him for leader.

If Brown even before entering Number 10 is capable of setting the wolves of private sector companies on the poorest in society there is no limit to how far he could go if he ever achieved prime ministerial office in undermining the principles upon which our movement founded the welfare state.

I salute the health workers and campaigners who today demonstrated all over the country against the job cuts, unit closures, privatisations and pay cuts inflicted upon our NHS by the Chancellor. Brown's welfare review demonstrates that the attack on the NHS today is merely a foretaste of what could follow across the whole of our public services and welfare state if we allow it.