Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Scrap sanctions targets and keep the bottom rung

There are a lot of things in the Scottish Labour manifesto which Calton does not agree with, however, scrapping benefit sanctions targets is one policy he can wholeheartedly support. It is totally iniquitous to set sanctions targets for job centre staff when they are supposed to be helping folk into work. It is a system open to abuse and is one of the reasons for the rise in foodbanks we have seen recently. There is nothing wrong with sanctions for those who are claiming jobseekers allowance while having no intention of looking for work. Such people are actually a tiny minority. What is wrong is sanctioning people who genuinely want to find work for things like not turning up to the job centre because they were at a job interview! The success or otherwise of job centres should not be measured by the number of sanctions they dish out but by the number of people they help back into work, and by "work" Calton means a proper job with a decent number of hours and job security, not a zero hours contract. Job centres also need to end the practice of pushing the unemployed into self-employment when they don't actually have a viable business plan which will earn them a sufficient income. Starting your own business is not an easy route out of unemployment, as many failed entrepreneurs can testify. It is not for the faint-hearted and what bothers Calton about all the calls for a higher minimum wage from Labour and other parties is that, if implemented, it could well either discourage employers from taking on more staff or put them out of business altogether. We need to be making it easier for businesses to employ people, not harder because, at the end of the day, if we knock out the bottom rung of the employment ladder (ie minimum wage jobs), we will consign ever more people to endless unemployment and that is not a good thing for any of us.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Right to buy - election bribe or panacea?

Calton is probably going to vote Conservative in the forthcoming election, however, he totally disagrees with the Tory policy of extending the right to buy to housing association tenants in England and Wales and is therefore appreciating the benefits of devolution which allow Scotland to take a more sensible approach in this particular matter. What is it with Tories and home ownership? It really isn't the panacea for all ills and this latest piece of electioneering is going to give housing associations south of the border a massive migraine. It's also not going to help all those waiting for house or flat to rent at an affordable rate with some security of tenure. How on earth can housing associations operate properly when, as soon as they build some decent flats, they get snapped up? Thankfully, the new flats Calton spied being built on the edge of Dunfermline by Kingdom Housing Association, on one of his recent flights across the water, will not subject to the same barmy legislation. We need a good supply of quality, affordable rented accommodation for those who can't or don't want to buy. It seems that Scotland is leading the way in this respect, although more could have been done sooner to preserve our stock of rented housing.