By Claire West

Commenting on the government's welfare reform white paper published last week, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

'Making work pay is an admirable objective, but it can only be done by spending much more money or creating real hardship.

'Yet the government is mainly going down the hardship route at a time when unemployment is high and its own policies mean many will lose their jobs in the coming months.

'Some people will undoubtedly make small gains, but it is poor and vulnerable people, as well as working families on middle incomes, who will pay for most of those gains through the government's £18 billion programme of welfare cuts.

'With five people already chasing every job, the problem is not workshy scroungers but a shortage of jobs.

'Of course we should be tough with the small minority that play the system, but there are already strong sanctions in place.

'It looks very much as if the government is trying to blame the victims, while covering up the spending cuts that have already ended the Future Jobs Fund and that will throw up to a million extra people on the dole.

'Iain Duncan Smith had interesting policies when he was in opposition, but today the Treasury is calling the shots. Meanwhile the government spin machine is talking up populist policies like workfare that independent research shows do not work, in the hope that the continuing scourge of unemployment, particularly among the young, drops out of media and public concern.'