Grayling’s Failings

  By VennerRoad, 8th Oct 2016

Last year, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced a new deal for short sentence and low risk offenders. His heart was in the right place, but...


Chris Grayling

Grayling has since been moved to Transport, but it remains to be seen if his scheme would have been anymore successful if he had been left to oversee its implementation. The scheme was covered here in February last year; earlier this month, the BBC reported that it had failed lamentably. If you want to read the official report, here it is.

On page 11 the reader is told: “Reoffending rates for released prisoners were high. It was recognised that issues including homelessness, unemployment, mental health and substance misuse lead to reoffending. Reoffending rates were highest for those serving short custodial sentences...”

This is a recognition of the very real problems many prisoners face on release, especially those serving short or relatively short sentences, which are long enough for them to lose both their jobs and their homes. Some attention is paid to enabling these prisoners to maintain their tenancies or even their employment, but what is missing from this equation is the fact that many of these people are unemployable in the current climate and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Indeed, as automation progresses, people in unskilled and semi-skilled jobs are likely to likewise fall by the wayside, and anyone with criminal antecedents can go to the back of the queue. It does not make sense for the Government to do what it is currently doing, paying private companies to train and mentor these people.

Tiresome though it is to repeat this, there is only one solution: universal basic income. A hundred years ago an unskilled man, even one who was only semi-literate, could eke out an existence and even support a family working a menial job. Today these jobs are not there - automation, remember? Basic income will destroy the poverty trap and allow people with no skills or current prospects to take whatever work they can find here or there to top it up. To a degree the Government is already doing this with Working Tax Credit. It is also paying private companies enormous sums of money to find work for the unemployable.

It may not be practicable to roll out basic income for the entire nation in one hit, but a pilot scheme would be an excellent idea. Although Switzerland has foolishly rejected the concept, pilot schemes are set to be rolled out in Finland and the Netherlands next year; why not use a group of disadvantaged people rather than a geographical location for a UK experiment?


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