A rather ropey-sounding idea from IPPR.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/ ... unemployed
Plans for a student-loan-style welfare reform – under which people who lose their jobs could receive higher benefits, then repay the extra when they return to work – are being examined by Labour as it seeks to counter claims that it lacks radical policy ideas.
The scheme, which aims to prevent people spiralling into debt, home repossession and relationship breakdown when they lose their jobs, is being considered by the party's policy review, chaired by MP Jon Cruddas.
Under the plan – called "national salary insurance" and developed by the IPPR thinktank – people with sufficient national insurance contributions would be entitled to receive up to 70% of their previous income, capped at £200 a week, for a period of up to six months, to help prevent them falling off a financial "cliff edge".
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I think this focus on contribution is very dodgy, to be honest. It might resonate with some sections of the middle class - let's face it, the middle classes aren't ones to look a gift horse in the mouth when it comes to state handouts - but although it might be unfashionable, I'd rather we focused our attentions on those who actually need a helping hand from the welfare state most of all. I really don't think this is the best way to go about it.
Many people can only find an intermittent series of low-paid, insecure jobs - we have a massive pool of precarious labour. In these circumstances, it becomes very difficult to build up NI contributions, and obviously these are the people who tend to be in the greatest need. So to me, the idea of handing more money to those with the most NI contributions sounds a bit like taxing the middle class to give benefits to the middle class. Though I had been under the impression that you pay NI in to get benefits out when you need them, rather than being handed a loan.
I'm a bit fed up with this focus on 'incentives to work', as well. The prospect of a secure, well-paid job is all the incentive most people need - it's just that they're in very short supply. Fiddling about with the benefits system isn't going to change that.
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.