Brief remarks on PLUSS
by Arran James
The following is a re-post from facebook of my angry rant, so forgive spelling etc. It’s based on seeing NovaraMedia having posted this image
What is the PLUSS hire-a-young person scheme? Click the images below to enlarge:
It seems to be designed to massage employment figures, to simulate growth in the figures of a section of UK society that has the highest unemployment rate. So the government gets to point to a sudden boom in employment for u-25s and say “hey, our austerity measures are working”. This would provide the UK government with a spurious justification for their open assaults on the working class & the institutions it struggled to achieve. It would effectively render their- at this point almost entirely overt- class war with an appearance of legitimate socio-economic planning.
But of course at the end of the 26 weeks, when the companies receive payment for participation (the “incentive” part of the scheme) and as the “try before you hire” duration reaches its end, how many of these people will be tossed back into unemployment?
It’s also intensely ideological in its presentation. Making it seem like you have to be employed to be a “somebody” (as one of their banners puts it) – thus broadcasting that the only value a person can carry is an economic value. This can be confirmed secondarily in being a good consumer. The same banner, with an image of a young woman, also declares that now she feels like a “somebody” “I can buy an iphone!” This is a weird twist as it also introduces the idea that you have to be a morally deserving person in order to be a consumer: its not that consumption makes you good, it’s that you can only consume once you have been declared “good”.
That its being delievered for the DwP to get disabled people back to work means its also part of the ATOS-led drive to get people who would ordinarily be in receipt of deserved welfare, who up until now have been recognised as requiring support to return to work or as unlikely to be capable of working again, are being forced into the wage relation.
As their website puts it, PLUSS focuses on “individuals considered furthest from the labour market”. This is no more than the attempt to draw people who have been exempted from the labour market into it- marshalling vulnerable populations that from capital’s perspective have been hitherto an entirely unproductive surplus-population. The point that it thus misses, or is trying to obfuscate, it that such surplus-populations are a result of the tendencies of capital to eliminate labour in the valorisation process.
These groups are also being commodified twice over. Once as labour, and a second time as “socially-conscious labour” (ie. companies get to say “look how we don’t discriminate”). Meanwhile the state is paying these companies to take these people on, so much of the “saving” on paying welfare is lost anyway. It’s not to do with welfare…it’s to do with getting these “skivers” back to work, satisfying economic reason & a perverse moralism that hates anyone perceived as living an easy life (the preserve of the global bourgeoisie).
This is esp. the case with a great deal of mental health disabilities: although you will never see orthodox psychiatry discuss class, you will find a lot of research on purely sociological conceptualisations of “stress”, “poverty” and “economic inequality” being a driver of much mental distress.
I mean- “try before you hire”? Dunno where in the world you are but in the UK we have something called “try before you buy”- and it refers to those commodities we usually call consumer products. It’s also rarely expected that you’ll buy the product then and there- it functions as more of an advert and a bit of affective outreach. So what to make of this except that its treating people as products to be picked up- disability as a kind of new brand that employers are being asked to consider.
They even have a statement defending all this, asking that we not make this issue political or ideological- as if it wasn’t already exactly that: http://www.pluss.org.uk/blog/2012/03/work-fair/
So all in all, I think its all part of the ideological weaponry of austerity, weaponry deployed as part of a class war that increasingly places capital in antagonism to the working class (which is also composed of women, PoC, and those with non-medico-normative bodies). How I feel about it is very, very angry.