Should people be forced to take minimum wage jobs or lose benefits?
This is a new proposal from a think tank usually known for its liberal approach. So why has it taken this tack and is this approach likely to catch on?
The Institute for Public Policy Research concluded in its latest report that anyone who has been out of work and claiming benefits for a year should be forced to take any minimum wage job offered to them. If they refuse they should have their unemployment benefits taken away from them.
In order to make the scheme work, it thinks the government should bring in a scheme whereby people are automatically offered a job of some sort after they have been out of work for 12 months - whatever their skills or abilities. These jobs should be temporary, but should last for at least six months while the employees look for something more long term.
This is its proposed solution to the fact that unemployment has risen a shocking 49% since the financial trouble started, and is expected to rise still further once the full impact of public sector cuts are felt. It says we simply can't afford this level of unemployment, and people need to work in return for their payouts.
Would it work?
This isn't such a crazy idea. It was one of the reasons why the world was able to work its way out of the 'great depression' by launching massive infrastructure projects and paying unemployed people to pick up a shovel. There is much debate about whether or not the scheme was wholly successful, but it certainly provided much-needed stimulus to the economy in a way that seems far healthier than just cutting the cost of everyone's mortgage repayments.
Of course, in reality, we will have to find a way to deal with the fact that some people are ill-equipped for work, and the fact that many will be doing it under great protest, which will mean the work is hardly of the kind of standard you would hope for from a normal employee.
So will it happen?
Stranger things have happened. In the wake of the riots all sorts of things have been contemplated that never before would have seemed possible - such as taking the homes away from those who were caught rioting.
Perhaps the government will conclude that this is the sort of scheme we need to get people working again and contributing to society. Perhaps the major infrastructure projects will begin again. Maybe this is the opportunity for us to have those potholes filled, get people back into work who have been crying out for a job and solve the problems of society in one fell swoop.
But what do you think? Is this a good idea, and will it ever happen? Let us know in the comments.