Government’s Plans for Unemployed

THE government recently unveiled plans to make working people do menial tasks, thus reducing �192 billion welfare payment.

THE government recently unveiled plans to make working people do menial tasks, thus reducing �192 billion welfare payment.

This is nothing new. In the 19th century the vestry (councils) of Wisbech and March had ways of dealing with people who would not work.

At Wisbech workshy men received about 2s6d dole. The River Nene was constantly maintained and able-bodied men on the dole were obliged to erect dams and scour the river bed notorious for silting. If they didn’t turn up they received no dole. Plenty of work could be obtained at the time, on the fields for instance.

In the 1850s March workhouse was filled to capacity with healthy workless men. The master-in-charge was a soft touch and the vestry decided to replace him with an ex-sergeant major. His rigorous attitudes rid the workhouse of the workshy, leaving only the aged, sick and infirm. This eased the burden on the rates.


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At Doddington workhouse where women were obliged to make and mend garments and men worked in the fields, chopped wood and did all kinds of menial tasks to defray expenses, any man refusing to work was put into a cell with a sledge hammer to break blocks of stone for hardcore on roads.

Deliberately avoiding work has always been a social problem. Benefits for those who will not work, but can, will attract the workshy.

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People still think the world owes them a living. It never has and never will.

TREVOR BEVIS

St Peter’s Road

March

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