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Make benefit claimants pick fruit says minister

By DaveCDM  |  Posted: February 27, 2014

Comments (32)

Benefits claimants should be stripped of welfare unless they pick fruit and vegetables on farms, a minister has said.

Farming Minister George Eustice, also a Westcountry MP whose family run a strawberry farm in Cornwall, insisted there would be no replacement for the abolished Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme that provided 22,000 foreigners a year with temporary permits to enter Britain to harvest crops.

Instead, local unemployed people should be recruited to do the work, he said.

Mr Eustice told the National Farmers’ Union conference in Birmingham: “I know that some people would say you won’t get them to do this work, they don’t want to do it.

“As a government we shouldn’t really tolerate that attitude that says we are going to pay people to stay on benefits because they don’t want to do certain types of farming work.”

Mr Eustice, MP for Camborne and Redruth, said: “We don’t think it is acceptable that people who could work do not because they think there is something unglamorous about farm work.

“We are doing a number of things, including getting people who live locally to take some of these jobs, to make sure it’s factored into the work that the Department for Work and Pensions is doing.

“Sometimes the barrier is that people feel it is not worth coming off benefits for a month or six weeks because they then have the difficulty of getting back on those benefits. That is something we are trying to address.”

Mr Eustice added: “Frankly, we need to try to make sure we make it easier for people who live locally who are on benefits but could work to take these jobs in agriculture. I know, having worked in farming myself, how challenging that can be.”

NFU president Peter Kendall accused the Government of attempting a “social engineering experiment”.

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  • Mr_Citizen  |  March 06 2014, 12:00AM

    Don't forget boys and girls that Mr Eustice also voted AGAINST having a debate on food poverty and the increased demand of food banks on 18th December 2013 (Hansard). The South West has seen unemployment rise meaning that more and more people are forced into claiming benefits. However the darker side to all this is the fact that many people who are genuinely unfit for work are being forced onto JSA. A prime example (and unfortunately a not an isolated case) is that of Mark Wood who starved to death due to his benefits being suspended. I had major cancer, from which I nearly died, and when it came to my DLA application and gathering medical evidnece my hospital consultant told me that I was not eligible under the new rules and that many of her patients were also effected which she found very distressing. Couple that with a solicitor calling in the U.N. after describing the police brutality at Barton Moss a the police "throwing Human Rights into the gutter' after a woman had a fit and was then dragged across a field in handcuffs and refused medical attention by a nurse who witnessed what had happened. A week later Theresa May called to abolish Human Rights "in order to fix the law". Have we all forgotten the atrocities committed on farm workers in Cornwall such as the many found to be living in one tent and given tins of dog food to eat? It's amazing how we have all these jobs for people on benefits but none of them are for actual employment

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  • Doitdreckley  |  March 03 2014, 7:35PM

    John Dee. Two thirds of working age benefits go to people of working age. Contributory JSA is just that - an insurance you have paid in for. It is not a "benefit" it is as right.

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  • John_Dee  |  March 03 2014, 7:57AM

    Like many on here, I have no objections to those on Jobseekers Allowance being made to do work for their benefits as long as that work is for the benefit of the community and not for the benefit of large companies. Being made to work for free for companies that would otherwise have to employ people removes jobs from the local economy - or reduces the hours of the existing staff. And those saying that pensions are not a benefit are wrong. The state pension, like contributory jsa and esa, are based on NI contributions but are still benefits. And more that half of the benefits budget goes to those over pension age.

    |   6
  • westwelsh  |  March 02 2014, 10:03PM

    Of course it oppresses the Cornish Turners crafts. It is taking advantage of our low wage economy to force local people into doing work which would otherwise be done by transient foreign workers. It is a way of keeping the Cornish subjugated and powerless. The Englishman Eustace knows this full well.

    |   5
  • Doitdreckley  |  March 02 2014, 9:16PM

    Because Turnerscrafts if you have paid in for National Insurance you have paid in for the risk of unemployment. If there is a job to do you should be paid properly for it. I feel sorry for you if you can't see these simple facts.

    |   7
  • SmokieJoe  |  March 01 2014, 1:23PM

    Yes Mr Eustice, they should take on these jobs (and likely would), if they are given a minimum 1 year contract with a guarantee if the work continues their contract will be made permanent, salary to be set at a living wage standard of at least £7.30ph. Put your money where your mouth is and lead by example by creating these opportunities. Or would it be that you simpy want the state to subsidise you and your family's financial position?

    |   11
  • Anyone  |  February 28 2014, 10:56PM

    @ doitdrekly I can assure you I am not confused in my thinking. I have yet to hear from anyone why people on the dole should not do some sort of work or training for their benefits. @ westwelsh I see nothing here that opresses the cornish.

    |   -10
  • westwelsh  |  February 28 2014, 8:42PM

    This is just another way that greedy Westminster politicians oppress the Cornish.

    |   9
  • Cknocker  |  February 28 2014, 5:12PM

    There is an argument for in some circumstances requiring a claimant to do some form of community work, I certainly don't think it should be a blanket all claimants shall do it, but I think when sanctions are applied to a claimant for various reasons, then perhaps there could be an offer of we either remove your benefits for the sanction period or you do this work. However that is NOTHING like what George is proposing, he is proposing what is in effect an extension of the existining scheme where the unemployed are forced into working for private enterprises for their benefits, now even the dimmest must be able to see what the effect of that is going to be: - If you were an unscrupulous, morally bankrupt employer, would you not want to sign up to this scheme? The government will provide you with an effectively unlimited pool of free unskilled labour, you employ each ne for 8 weeks and let them go! we have already seen evidence come from the likes of B&Q and Tesco, where it is actually a key performance measure of individual stores, how much free labour they are using! I cannot believe the people that castigate the unemployed (By the way I consider myself damn lucky that I have never had to claim a penny - long may that continue!) for not having a job and then promote a scheme that not only reduces available jobs but subsidises private enterprises! I bet george can't wait to get his family in on this gig! And I repeat any business that takes part in such a scheme is unscrupulous and morally bankrupt!

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  • Doitdreckley  |  February 28 2014, 3:58PM

    I repeat. If you have paid National INSURANCE you are entitled to your benefits. If there is work to be done it has to be paid for the job otherwise it undercuts those already working in these activities. You do admit these two facts in your post but seem confused in your thinking.

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      Should benefits claimants be stripped of welfare unless they pick fruit and vegetables on farms?