An excellent piece on Job Seekers Allowance by Kevin Maguire in the Mirror today. As Owen has been arguing, there is a real opportunity at the moment to undermine the neoliberal mythography of the scrounger (which, as Maguire points out, has been crucial to the attacks both on the unemployed and on immigrants). The alarming decline of JSA in real terms under Blair and Brown also underlines the way in which attacks on welfare that would not have been possible at the height of Thatcherism go unremarked under New Labour:
TUC chief Brendan Barber speaks of how sacked pin-striped bankers are horrified at how little money they get on the dole.
Once they smugly thought scroungers signed on but now they realise it's no bed of roses on state support, observed Barber when I bumped into him.
The Government trumpeted an inflation-beating 5.2% rise tomorrow in the Jobseeker's Allowance. Unfortunately 5.2% of very little is only £3.80.
JSA will still be a measly £64.30 per week if you're over 25, £50.95 if younger.
.... Britain's another country to the mythical welfare paradise of deluded right-wingers who play for cheap votes by bashing claimants.
We're near the bottom of European unemployment benefit rates.
If JSA had kept pace with earnings over the past 30 years, it would be £110 per week.
Liberal Democrat frontbencher Steve Webb calculates the dole equalled 17% of average earnings in the Thatcher recession of the 80s.
During the John Major Tory recession of the 90s, it had fallen to 14%.
And in the global financial recession of Gordon Brown's Premiership, it has slumped to 11%.