The Instigator
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0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

UK Unemployment

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/28/2013 Category: People
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 947 times Debate No: 38228
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




Should the unemployed in the UK be made to do voluntary work while they receive Job Seekers Allowance and continue their search for a job instead of sitting at home doing nothing


They should not be forced into slave labour for survival because survival is a fundamental right, and is not a conditional privilege, no matter what some Bullingdon Club aristocrats or semi-literate Mail readers think

I shall allow you to proceed with your argument for conditional survival.
Debate Round No. 1


andyjfraser forfeited this round.


I'll wait for the first argument
Debate Round No. 2


I'm a little confused as to whether you understand the question posed, in no way does the idea involve slavery or survival, however it does raise the issue of whether it is reasonable to expect someone in receipt of state aid during a period of unemployment to meet requirements and conditions in order for them to receive the money.

Are you saying that there should be none for reasons of conditional privilege or survival you mentioned in Round 1? If your answer is yes then you are already out of step with current rules and conditions laid down on an individual receiving Job Seekers Allowance (JSA).

Current rules dictate that and individual in receipt of JSA must be actively seeking work and be able to show evidence that they have been doing so, therefore showing enough evidence that they meet criteria to receive the benefit.

The question asked regarding this debate is should we go further than that and expect recipients to do volunteer work that benefits them and their local community.

You have to recognise and accept that there is no such thing as a free lunch, or something for nothing. JSA costs money which comes from taxes collected by Government and paid by the people of the Country who are working. It is therefore right that the people of the Country expect something back for giving the assistance.

Is asking a JSA recipient to do voluntary work nothing more than slavery, no, indeed doing some voluntary work would mean that there is a reciprocal arrangement that benefits both the individual and the Community.

I am not suggesting that individuals should be given degrading activities to do, on the contrary, many charities and not for profit organisations need volunteers and would fold without them, and I am suggesting that a JSA recipient do x amount of hours helping such organisations which means they will also be supporting their local community.

I mentioned in an earlier paragraph reciprocal arrangement, meaning that the individual would benefit too, how?

1. Having regular meaningful activity and a reason to get out of bed
2. Valuable Work experience
3. Learn new skills
4. Being better placed in the Jobs market, as prospective employers are far more likely to employ an unemployed person who has been actively doing things to make themselves more employable, than some that has done nothing but stay in bed watching daytime TV.
5. May even get employed by the very organisation he/she is volunteering with. I can speak first hand on that, as this is how I got back to work following a spell of long term unemployment.
6. Giving support to the local community can lead to better self esteem and purpose.
7. Its also good for physical and mental well-being.

None of the above reasons for doing voluntary work amount to slavery, quiet the opposite in fact.

In conclusion the notion that it is simply slavery, conditional privilege or survival to have such expectations is flawed. There is no such thing as something for nothing and we already have rules and conditions set out for recipients of JSA and I can see no reason why we should not take it one step further by requiring individuals to do some sort of voluntary work while they are receiving government aid especially as its a win win scenario, both parties benefit from the arrangement. I would therefore support such requirements if our government was to bring them in.


I am actually against JSA, along with any system that can in any scenario deprive a person of their basic means of sustenance. Instead, I am in favour of a Universal Citizen's to replace all housing, unemployment and child benefits paid to every adult citizen unconditionally. It would introduce a threshold for all citizens to survive on; as well as offering a much better alternative to the current government's farcical 'Make Work Pay' initiative and substantially reduce fraud.

Forcing people into work would not alleviate.the unemployment situation either. There are currently three and a half million unemployed people in the UK. There are approximately half a million vacancies. So even if the unemployed were prodded with bayonets and chased by hounds into work, it would only reduce unemployment by about two percent. There has consistently been an excess labour force of over a million people since the IMF forced the government to introduce neoliberal (read: anti-population) reforms in 1976, and were then extended by Thatcher in the 1980s, Major in the nineties and Blair in the noughties. Prior to 1976, there was consistantly full employment,or near enough, since about 1936. High unemployment is a tool used by big business to crush workers' rights due to a saturated labour market that made union activity difficult to carry out. If the government did something radical and, you know, stepped up to its resppnsibilities to the public, there would be no problems with social expenditure.

Furthermore, social spending is illustrastrative of a much deeper problem that will plague society in the long term - the aging population. Two thirds of the social protection budget is taken up by pension provision and subsidy. This includes state pension, the subsidies on private pensions and all pensions with public sector employees. The elderly.represent twelve percent of the population, yet receive a third of all NHS spending and two thirds of all social spending. I am in no way suggesting reducing thenx already miniscule state pensions; I am merely making the point that there are far greater issues than unemployment, such as a growing divide between the haves and the have-nots, the rapid transfer of taxpayers' money into he pockets of wealthy parasites in the City of London, and the obscene amounts of money spent on defence when he planet is in danger of an environmental disaster. Spending on benefits accounts for a minuscule proportion of total government spending, and even if it was a genuine issue, it would be stupid to afford any amount of attention to it.

You also make the mistake of thinking that being unemployed is a matter of polo in the morning, a game of tennis with gin and tonic at the country club over cucumber sandwiches, and then Chateaubriande with Chateau de Rothschild 1974 for dinner followed by brandy and cigars in a council stately home, with holidays to Biarritz, Monte Carlo and the Seychelles periodically. Contrary to the groundless opinions of the right, it is hardly a life of luxury to be unemployed. The vast majority of people that are unemployed are unemployed in the short term and do not enjoy being unemployed. Forcing work upon the unemployed is a fruitless exercise that tars those who need society's help with the 'workshy layabout scroungers' brush that is fundamentally contradictory to the most basic sociological principles and human morality.


1. That sounds like 'Arbeit Macht Frei'. How is working in a hierarchical, collectivist environment as a unit of labour rather than as a human being working for the benefit of themselves and others. Work is not a valid reason to get out of bed. It is a perpetuated necessity to work.
2. It does not matter if the people have valuable work experience, because there are not enough jobs to go round. And by the time there are jobs, everyone that is unemployed would have the experience necessary, so it would become Weimar Currency, since everyone has it.
3. They would not learn new skills, since the jobs they would be forced into would be unskilled ones.
4. That is essentially the same point as 2.
5. Yes, that does happen, but if they are employed as that, their standards of living would hardly be raised by it, since by carrying out the same job, they would only secure their current lifestlyle.
6. It would not if they are being forced into doing it. Yes, voluntary work is good for the person involved, but only if it is VOLUNTARY. If that element is taken away, it is not voluntary work anymore, and is just work.
7. That is just a repeat of 1, but I will readdress it. If you want to improve your physical well-being, go for a run, or do some gardening. If you want to improve your mental well-being, read a book or talk to someone. Compulsory labour is incredibly destructive for both physical and mental well-being, as it is degrading.

A democratic society is absolutely based on optional participation. Optional participation is good for the society's mental and physical health, allows art to flourish, since the vast majority of great twentieth and twenty-first century writers, musicians and artists perfected their crafts while unemployed; and generally gives the feeling of freedom and optimism to the people.

There does appear to be a free lunch, just not for the poor. Our society is currently based on a 'socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor' basis, where the government helps the rich to multiply their fortunes by printing money to give to banks, cutting higher levels of income tax and allowing them to have a direct influence on public policy; while simultaneously cutting benefits, not sufficiently raising the minimum wage and privatising property of the public. There are far better targets for the vitriol directed at the poor, as not only are they worse scroungers, they are also part of the root cause of the people having to claim benefits in the first place. A saturated labour market is good for big business. If there is a huge manpower pool they can dive into, they can impose whatever conditions they choose on their workers, since desperate people will gladly take the place of dissenters. Unions are crushed and therefore people are reduced to a state of submission to tyrannical authority with no hope or future. This is the world they want, one where there is an underclass of degenerates and sludge, while they are at the top directing the hatred of the people at the bottom as a distraction from the real obscenities in our society.
Debate Round No. 3
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Vote Placed by rross 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: All Con's arguments came in the last round, and normally they should be ignored because Pro didn't have a chance to respond. However, in this case, it was due to Pro's own forfeit. Therefore, I'm taking the arguments as they stand, and I thought Con's were more comprehensive and convincing. I was especially struck by the comment that "voluntary work" needs to be voluntary. I'm embarrassed to say I didn't even notice that until he pointed it out.