Friday, 29 August 2008

Setting up "investigations" with only one possible outcome.

Occasionally, the Sun likes to take a break from attacking the "work shy" and on benefits just in print and decides to set-up a fallacious test to prove just what a bunch of layabouts those on benefits are. Previously it sent a hack to Rochdale, who quickly discovered that, surprise surprise, a tabloid newspaper journalist in his 40s and in a suit could get a job reasonably quickly. Throughout it didn't bother to outline what benefits those in Falinge in Rochdale were actually on; whether it was jobseeker's allowance, income support or incapacity benefit, but what do little things like that matter when you're attacking some of the most vulnerable, sorry I mean most bone idle in society?

This time the paper has been completely caught out by its own readers, which happily saves me the bother. Taking out advertisements in a local newspaper in Merthyr Tydfil, another "benefits blackspot", the paper offered an imaginary position for a cleaner in a new office development. The job required no experience (you don't say), paid the minimum wage and was for a minimum of 10 hours a week. Unsurprisingly, just one person bothered to apply for the job, a 22-year-old who wanted to combine it with going back to college, and whom most of the rest of the article is dedicated to.

The flaw in the Sun's plan to expose the population of Merthyr Tydfil as scroungers is quite apparent: only jobseeker's allowance for those under 24 pays less than the Sun's 10-hour minimum wage job would, at £46.85 a week. Considering that the rent on the most dingy bed-sit around is often in the region of £70 a week or more, it's hardly surprising that just one person took the Sun up on their remarkably generous offer. The only way in which the job might have been worth the while of someone on the dole taking it would be if they could combine it with another part time job, but unless they had another which they'd found at the same time, they'd still be out of pocket. The other two jobs which the Sun advertised were also minimum wage, but were for 20 hours and 35 hours respectively, and received 60 applications, as the paper freely admits. Hardly the sign of an area more willing to live on benefits than to work.

As I said, I didn't need to do any of the work here as the commenters on the story had already done it for me:

"Come on, get real,,,, what use is a 10-hour a week job to anybody?? Hardly gets you off the dole does it?? I like to work my living, but if I was unemployed I wouldn't apply for a job offering 10 hours a week, especially on minimum wage. You can't pay your rent/mortgage and live on that money, so the 'test' was totally unrealistic. Put an ad in for a good job, on good money and I think you'll find there's plenty of genuine job seekers."

Which they of course did.

"This was a 10 hour job on £5.56 an hour. That works out at £55.60 a week, yet you get £60 a week on JSA, plus benefits, are they surprised no-one applied, I wouldn't have either!"


"Clean toilets for £5 an hour?! I'm not surprised no one wanted the job, I wouldn't do it."


Of course, this is all well and good when reading the paper online, but just how many of the Sun's 3 million readers check up on the reports they read in the paper on the site later is likely to be in the hundreds, if that. They've been given a completely false picture of a town on the basis of an "investigation" which doesn't stand up to the slightest scrutiny. That, I'm pretty sure, counts as a particularly egregious lie and a slur on those unfortunate enough to be on benefit through no fault of their own.


asquith said...

People who work for 10 hours a week (any time under 16) can still receive Jobseekers' Allowance provided they look for another job. I gather that they may also get housing benefit & council tax benefit. Not completely sure how this works out, but I know there is a 16 hour rule...

I used to be on JSA for 4 months. I even had a 13 week interview & subsequent weekly signings... which I'd like to force every parasite cunt of a politician to go through, especially that fucker John Hutton, before any of them start. No remotely sane person would actually want that sort of life, so either they can't find work or they have pathetically low aspirations, in neither case should they be vilified.

Additionally, a lot of unemployed people have a series of mental health problems, quite often undiagnosed. Going around persecuting people, thinking it makes you a hard man, is a recipe for more human misery and did I mention much higher crime?

Tim said...

An important aspect of this that we should work to highlight:

Look at how out of touch The Sun are.

They've shown a complete failure to appreciate (or even be aware of) the realities that many of their readers face.

Like a poltician who doesn't know the price of a pint of milk, only far worse, as they're passing judgement with these blinkers on.

septicisle said...

Tim: I think it's worse than that. They knew full well that this sort of job wasn't going to attract hardly any applicants, which was the whole point of the exercise. How's that for contempt for your own readers?

Tim said...

We know about all of that, your average reader won't be ready for it yet. IMO.

I think the 'friend of the working class' bubble is the easiest to burst.