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100 years ago: Service or the dole?

05 March 2021

March 4th, 1921.

THE many thousands of persons in search of domestic servants will have read with astonishment that more than 13,000 unemployed persons registered at the labour exchanges as such are in receipt of unemployment benefit. Mr Clynes, the newly-elected Chairman of the Labour Party, is in favour of withholding unemployment pay from persons who refuse work of a suitable character when it is offered. Simple people may have supposed that some such system was already in vogue; in fact, the scheme is worked on the presumption that economic necessity will oblige an unemployed person to accept work rather than the comparatively low rate of unemployment benefit. That presumption is, however, by no means generally realized in cases where the unemployed person is without responsibilities. What is urgently needed is some modification of the scheme that will put an end to the present scandal of boys and girls living at home on their parents, and regarding their unemployment dole as pocket money to be spent on cigarettes, chocolates, and “movies”.

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