Email Us My Blog


Duncan-Smith Blames Riots on Benefits and Parenting

Irish Times, October 04, 2011 by Mark Hennessy

[ A story that is relevant to Ireland also. RC ]

STREET GANGS, who behave “like child soldiers in the Third World” scarred by anger and violence, played a significant role in August’s riots in the UK, a senior British politician said yesterday.

Blaming poverty and poor parenting for the unrest, British work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan-Smith said the UK’s welfare system had for decades helped to create “a growing under-class” who lived unproductive lives.

“Fighting this through our police officers is crucial, but this isn’t just a job for officers alone; we must end the false belief that we can arrest our way out of this crisis,” he told the Conservative Party’s conference.

Local authority housing, created to give families the chance to give their children a better life, had “too often become a place of intergenerational worklessness, hopelessness and dependency”, said Mr Duncan-Smith, who led the Conservative Party until 2005.

Illustrating the scale of family breakdown in the UK, he said half of all children born today would see their parents split up before they were 16, while too many schoolgoers were suffocated “within a culture of low expectations”.

Highlighting the scale of welfare dependency, and particularly the explosion in disability claimants, British education secretary Michael Gove said the number of people claiming payments was now higher than after the first World War.

Since taking up office Mr Duncan-Smith has ordered a review of incapacity benefit rules, arguing that the 1.5 million people claiming it have “too often been written off”, while some have “abused it as an excuse for avoiding work”.

Meanwhile, London mayor Boris Johnson plans to put 1,000 “problem children” into bootcamp-style schools next summer in a bid to put discipline on their lives, based on a model working successfully in east London.

“Instead of washing their hands of young people having a hard time in school, these clubs will instil a firm sense of purpose, focus and motivation. Instilling discipline and giving young people positive role models and structure can have an amazing effect,” he will tell today’s conference.

The mayor hopes to expand the £2 million (€2.34 million) project with the backing of private business.

The project’s model, the Eastside Young Leaders Academy run by youth worker Ray Lewis, uses military-style discipline to help troubled teenagers. The aim is, in Mr Lewis’s words, to “perform a handbrake turn in their lives”.