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131021jsaliespt2

Yesterday’s outburst against Esther McVey and her innovative way of interpreting the benefit claimant statistics proved very popular as readers clamoured to suggest alternative reasons why people who deserve benefits are no longer getting them.

One of these deserves an article of its own, because it really is ‘The One That Got Away’ – and doesn’t deserve to. As the commenter who raised it pointed out, it could be a huge scandal.

We refer, of course, to the fact that people on Jobseekers’ Allowance are being, let’s call it, ‘persuaded’ to go self-employed and start new businesses.

How are these businesses funded? Do these people get a share of a different DWP budget? Do they get loans? Do they get tax relief to support them while they are setting up these firms?

Meanwhile, some believe the DWP officers who force jobseekers to go self-employed get a commission for doing so – an extra payment on top of their salaries. Or is it a bounty, for taking one more name off the books?

Can anyone shed light on this? Do they get paid for creating, in effect, fake jobs?

Some of these new firms will succeed. Current statistics mean around 10-20 per cent of new small businesses last more than three years. But this means at least 80 per cent will go under.

Our commenter who mentioned the issue raised fears that funding will be withdrawn, right around the time of the 2015 general election.

Wouldn’t that be shocking – if Labour took office only to be faced with headlines that the new government was sending businesses to the wall and unemployment through the roof in its first year of government?

My commenter wondered if this was “another Tory elephant-trap for Labour”. Good question.

If so, it will be time to remind everyone that, since the Coalition came into office, 52,701 firms have been declared insolvent and 379,968 individuals.

Even with ‘help’ from the Coalition, it would take a lot of effort for Labour to equal that dismal record.