The full tabs for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now online here.

The budget questions were all largely unsurprising – the mansion tax remains very popular (75% support on £2m houses), as is increasing the personal tax allowance and cutting fuel duty. People also continue to support the ending of child benefit for higher rate taxpayers by 62% to 30%. Abolishing higher rate tax relief on pension contributions was much less so – 42% supported and 31% opposed.

Turning to workfare, there is majority support for both the voluntary work experience system (supported by 59% and opposed by 34%) and mandatory work placements for long term unemployed people (supported by 61% and opposed by 32%). On the principle of whether companies are making a positive contribution by taking part in the scheme or exploiting the unemployed, 52% think it is a good thing for companies to provide unpaid work, 34% think it is a bad thing.

The survey also repeated questions on the government’s health policy from a fortnight ago, finding a slight drop in the already low support for the government’s proposals. Now only 14% support them (compared to 18% a week ago) with 48% opposed (no change). 38% say don’t know. Half of Tory voters now think the government should drop the bill.

On Syria there is little change from a fortnight ago, the picture remains that a majority of people would support economic sanctions against Syria, but very few would back military intervention. The majority of those who would back Western action against Syria would do so only with UN support.

UPDATE: How embarrassing – I was looking at the wrong column, half of Tory supporters think the government should continue with the bill (technically, of course, that means half don’t, but that’s divided between 21% who think they should drop it and 30% who don’t know).


67 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times on workfare, NHS & Syria”

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  1. When I was on the dole, working in a charity shop to pass the time, there was a woman volunteer, also on the dole, around 45-ish, who’d been forced onto one of these schemes, working on the tills in Poundland. I asked her what she’d done in her working life, and she said “cleaning, and working in supermarkets”. I said, “is it not a bit daft to work for free when you already know how to do the tills and everything – surely if they need an employee they could just hire you?” and she said, “aaaah, but I’m hoping when they see me doing this for them, they’ll hire me cos I helped them out”.

    She was crushed when they didn’t hire her after the end of her scheme. How demeaning to have to work for free, in a menial job which requires no skill, and even then not to have found paid work. Fact is, if someone is ‘doing something useful’ and helping a company to make profit, they should be rewarded so. Isn’t that the whole point of wage labour?

    And let’s end this absolute clap-trap about ‘daytime TV’. If I hear one more mention of ‘daytime TV’, like it’s some kind of shameful, base indulgence I’m going to pop.

  2. There is actually a simple, elegant and analytically valid answer to these questions, if only the government would do it.*

    Set up an experiment. Select a two groups, at random, from benefit claimants and put one group onto the work experience schemes whilst the others don’t get the offer.

    At the end of six months see how many from each group have found paid employment.

    This will test** if the schemes are effective in giving people something they need to find employment. Very simple***.

    *To be fair I don’t know that the government aren’t doing this. But I would bet a lot of money that they aren’t.

    **With proper design and analysis.

    ***Although it would destroy an amusing argument on this site.

  3. Gregor S

    I think this is the point why people are getting upset with these “jobs for no pay”. A minority of these schemes are not about the person bettering themselves but about a company finding a way around minimum wage.

    In circumstances where the person actually does gain a useful experience then it can be a mutually beneficial arrangement.

    As for daytime TV, I think anyone subjected to that tosh should be pitied, not envied!

  4. TheSheep

    It’d be interesting to see the data, although I suspect it’ll be skewed by the fact it’s a voluntary scheme so people who do have no actual interest in working will of course opt out of the scheme so we have a self selecting data set.

    To get around this effect you’d need to only use people who volunteered for such a scheme, and then split between those who got (and completed) a placement and those who didn’t.

    Of course differentiating between different placements would also be interesting to see if some were very worthwhile and some were worse than useless.

  5. @ Gregor S

    “When I was on the dole, working in a charity shop to pass the time, there was a woman volunteer, also on the dole, around 45-ish, who’d been forced onto one of these schemes, working on the tills in Poundland. I asked her what she’d done in her working life, and she said “cleaning, and working in supermarkets”. I said, “is it not a bit daft to work for free when you already know how to do the tills and everything – surely if they need an employee they could just hire you?” and she said, “aaaah, but I’m hoping when they see me doing this for them, they’ll hire me cos I helped them out”.

    She was crushed when they didn’t hire her after the end of her scheme. How demeaning to have to work for free, in a menial job which requires no skill, and even then not to have found paid work. Fact is, if someone is ‘doing something useful’ and helping a company to make profit, they should be rewarded so. Isn’t that the whole point of wage labour?”

    That sh*t ain’t right. That sh*t just ain’t right. I can’t believe that this sort of practice goes on. And one reason I struggle to believe this is because I think of your labor laws, British and European, being far to the left of American ones. And I think of your government benefits as being far more generous and protective.

    But here, they’re clearly not. People should be paid for the work that they do. It shouldn’t matter that they’re on welfare or unemployment insurance or disability or some other form of government assistance. The whole point of gaining work is so that they don’t need the government benefits.

  6. @ Alan

    “I think this is the point why people are getting upset with these “jobs for no pay”. A minority of these schemes are not about the person bettering themselves but about a company finding a way around minimum wage.”

    A job for no pay really isn’t a job.

    “In circumstances where the person actually does gain a useful experience then it can be a mutually beneficial arrangement.”

    I agree but that seems to me to be more appropriate for students. Not for people who need jobs to support themselves and people who would like to live without being dependent on the government.

  7. @ Chris Lane

    “The Old Labour ethic had no time for people who will not work.

    He who will not work, will not eat: Thessalonians.”

    Yes, and working for free is what some of us (apparently, Americans of all ideological bents and left wing Brits) would call slavery. You can attribute that one to Abraham Lincoln (a Republican I’d consider voting for). And when the government forces its people to work for free for the benefit of a small few, that’s what some of us call Communism.

    I can tell you that I oppose both Slavery and Communism.

  8. @Alan

    Well there appears to be a question about just how “voluntary” it is. But if I was writing a contract with a company that wanted payment by results I’d only be willing to pay for any improvement above natural rates. And that would require a control group.

    Of course experimental design would be needed, but with a pool in excess of 2.5 million you would have a lot of flexibility to control for other factors if you wanted.

  9. @ The Sheep

    “Although it would destroy an amusing argument on this site.”

    I’m sure we could all just attack the study and manipulate its findings by interpreting them to meet our own ideological bends. :)

  10. “And when the government forces its people to work for free for the benefit of a small few, that’s what some of us call Communism.”
    And what some of us would correctly call state capitalism. ;)

  11. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/02/wikileaks-anonymous-partners/
    Private intelligence companies with links to multinationals and government agencies, the next big political scandal?

  12. SOCAL LIBERAL.
    Hello again, just off for veterans tennis in a minute I am.

    But:
    As I understand it, the people working for TESCO etc were not working for ‘free’. They were being ‘paid’ out of the public purse. This money used to be called ‘Dole’ I think.

    So it is not slavery, I think. It must be wrong for young people to be leaving school, many of whom behaved very badly in school, to then not have to leave their house or their ‘mates’ and then receive this Dole.

    I would agree that some small ‘subsidy’ from Govt/tax payer on top of the ‘Dole’ would be a good idea- and would help to float the economy; a kind of ‘QE’ for the poor, alongside QE for the bankers.

  13. “It appears that a faulty cable may have been
    the cause of scientists claiming discovery of
    particles that travel faster than the speed of
    light, a feat widely publicized recently. Physicists
    at the European Organisation for Nuclear
    Research (CERN) asserted that particles called
    neutrinos had zoomed from a lab in Geneva
    to another in Italy at a speed 60 nanoseconds
    faster than light. More sceptical researchers
    believed the calculation to be an error.”

  14. Victorian views about poverty and unemployment :-

    “The purpose of the workhouse was to discourage the poor from claiming poor relief. It was intended to “dis-pauperise” districts: that is, to make conditions so harsh and uncompromising in the institutions that people would prefer to try to manage outside, rather than enter them. It was thought that the poor were idle and would do almost anything other than look for employment. The ratepayers seemed not to consider the fact that employment was increasingly difficult to find and that wages were too low for subsistence.”

    “it was generally accepted that the poor should be looked after but increasingly, it was felt — by the ratepayers — that poverty was the result either of idleness or of a personality defect. Consequently, it was thought that the poor should be encouraged to find work or be ‘taught the error of their ways’.”

    http://www.victorianweb.org/history/poorlaw/southwh.html

  15. @The Sheep

    “Set up an experiment. Select a two groups, at random, from benefit claimants and put one group onto the work experience schemes whilst the others don’t get the offer.”

    Apparently there are already stats on this. These were referred to in a discussion/debate the other day (I forget where I heard it, probably the Toady programme). If what I heard was correct, then government data shows that the scheme is of absolutely no benefit whatsoever – if anything, those on the scheme are less likely to be in work 6 months later.

  16. “It must be wrong for young people to be leaving school, many of whom behaved very badly in school, to then not have to leave their house or their ‘mates’ and then receive this Dole.”

    First hand experience told me that ‘these people’ are not all school-leavers, did not behave badly at school and did not spend all their time inside their houses. I was one of ‘these people’, and am slightly offended to be tarred with that brush. I would hope you yourself are never affected by involuntary unemployment – but I think a spell on the JSA might actually do you some good.

  17. @ Gregor S

    “First hand experience told me that ‘these people’ are not all school-leavers, did not behave badly at school and did not spend all their time inside their houses. I was one of ‘these people’, and am slightly offended to be tarred with that brush. I would hope you yourself are never affected by involuntary unemployment – but I think a spell on the JSA might actually do you some good.”

    Don’t be offended. People will often say things that they don’t really mean because they don’t think it through and they go off a few examples.

    People shouldn’t volunteer unless they believe in what they’re volunteering for.

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