Osborne’s big plan: falsify unemployment figures under the Workfare banner

A swivel-eyed loon, earlier today. [Picture: Left Foot Forward]

A swivel-eyed loon, earlier today. [Picture: Left Foot Forward]

So Gideon wants the long-term unemployed to go on Workfare indefinitely, does he?

Forgive me if I’m mistaken, but doesn’t this mean the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s big announcement – at this year’s Conservative Party Conference – is a tawdry plan to massage the unemployment figures?

I’m indebted to The Void blog for the following information, which I recalled while reading reports of Osborne’s drone to the swivel-eyed masses. An article from May stated that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had been forced to admit a rise in unemployment was down to a fall in the number of people on Workfare.

“According to the Department, the number of people in work fell by over 47,000 over the last three months – which they say ‘reflects’ amongst other things a drop of 16,000 in the numbers on Government employment schemes,” the article states. As far as I know, this is still correct – if a person is put on Workfare, they are removed from unemployment statistics, even though they only receive social security payments for the work they do.

Putting the long-term unemployed on Workfare indefinitely, therefore, will effectively wipe long-term unemployment from the national figures. This will make Osborne’s administration look very good indeed – despite having done nothing to improve anyone’s chances of finding a job. In fact, those prospects will have worsened because every Workfare place removes a paying job from the market.

And what will this do for the Bank of England’s scheme to raise interest rates only if unemployment drops below seven per cent?

Wait – it gets worse. We can also see a now-traditional Tory ‘bait-and-switch’ going on, supported by a justification narrative based on a bit of voodoo polling. This one pushes lots of our favourite buttons!

Osborne’s rationale for imposing the scheme – the justification narrative – is simply that people want it. He’s basing his reasoning for this on a voodoo poll by the right-wing Policy Exchange, as described on The Void today.

“The general public’s opinions on workfare have been grossly distorted by the nature of the questions asked in this survey – of which there were only two,” the article states.

“The first question asked whether people thought ‘The government should require people who are unemployed for 12 months or more to do community work in return for their state benefits.’ The truth is that only just over half agreed at 56%. But the public were not asked if this workfare should be full time. In fact it does not even specify that the work should be unpaid – previous workfare schemes have come with a top up payment to benefits attached. Whilst those engrossed in welfare policy might assume workfare to mean 30 hours a week, every week, without pay, there’s no reason a survey respondent would think that. They might think yes, they should volunteer in an old people’s home for an afternoon a week, or do a couple of days a month helping out in the local park, for reasonable expenses. This 56% in no way gives a mandate for full time unpaid workfare.”

It continues: “The second question is even more dubious. The Policy Exchange are attempting to use the answers to this question to claim that only 22% of the public support disabled people being exempt from workfare. That incidentally is disabled people “who are capable of working” – another devious phrase as who is and isn’t capable of working is clearly open to debate as the Atos scandal has shown. The obvious inference from the from this figure is that 78% of the public support workfare for disabled people. Yet in question 1 only 56% of people support workfare for anyone at all. There must be something in the going on to explain this bizarre discrepancy.

“Question 2 asks respondents to imagine that compulsory workfare exists and then questions who should be exempt. Now a disabled person completing this survey may think well if I have to do workfare then why shouldn’t a lone parent, and vice versa. That doesn’t mean they support workfare, it means they support equality, of a sort.

“There is no option available for those who think that everyone should be exempt from workfare, although it is possible to answer that every group of claimants given should undertake unpaid work.”

So: Extremely dubious findings, used to support a dubious claim that the public supports increasing Workfare and this is why the Coalition is doing so. In fact, this is a thinly-veiled attempt to falsify unemployment statistics and trigger an interest rate rise.

The swivel-eyed loons must have lapped it up.

Now, why wasn’t Vox Political‘s best friend, Iain Duncan Smith, making this announcement?

25 thoughts on “Osborne’s big plan: falsify unemployment figures under the Workfare banner

  1. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

    I really should stop reading stuff like this because it makes my blood boil…however, I won’t stop reading it, I will continue posting it on my blog and facebook and telling anyone who’ll listen about it. The reason for my doing this is because I abhor any form of injustice, whoever it is directed at.

  2. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

    Reblogged this on glynismillward189 and commented:
    I really should stop reading stuff like this because it makes my blood boil…however, I won’t stop reading it, I will continue posting it on my blog and facebook and telling anyone who’ll listen about it. The reason for my doing this is because I abhor any form of injustice, whoever it is directed at.

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  4. Mike Sivier

    I have to share this comment from Janet Renwick on the Facebook page with all of you. Regarding the image, she wrote: “See he’s had his hair cut ready for his lobotomy.”

  5. Big Bill

    IDS is clearly yesterday’s man now. I doubt we’ll hear much more from him on any subject. If the Coalition wanted to falsify the long-term unemployment stats they could have just had people sign a fresh claim when they came off the Work Programme. I remain surprised they didn’t. Also there’s a school of thought suggests if interest rates go up it’ll trigger a derivatives implosion which will bring about the collapse of the global financial system. I know the argument you make is popular – Sturdy Alex was saying the same thing earlier – but I’m not yet convinced myself.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I’m not entirely sure about the interest rates issue, which is why I wrote it in the most neutral way I could. I don’t know what people would be trying to achieve in pushing them up prematurely.

      1. Jonathan Wilson

        I remember seeing an info graphic somewhere a while ago that compared the base rate to the actual mortgage rates.. what it showed was that once the rate fell below about 2-2.5% the high street rate refused to go lower, in effect giving the banks a far higher margin when having to “overnight” a short fall.

        It also showed that when the base rate increased then high street rates also went immediately up to keep the increased margin but as the base rate went higher the banks would taper the margin and over a period of increasing rises the margin reduced untill the rates were back in sync or even reversed as the banks know there is a point at which the system breaks because large numbers default so better to loose on the overnight than large swathes of customers defaulting.

        My take is that the whole housing market needs a massive devaluation or a re-introduction of the old “3* earnings” rule to suppress the housing bubble that is still there and never really burst the last time, the reduction was nowhere near as large as it need to be to re-balance the housing market… but then again to do so would massively devalue the economy as I believe house prices are part of the valuation of ukplc (from what little I know of how it all supposedly works).

        And Giddiots and daves take on the whole thing is to bring forward a scheme that will do nothing but pump up the bubble further and quicker and in simple terms means that the uk is introducing the same scheme that caused fanny and freddy to break by forcing them to underwrite any possible losses to the banks only this time its the gov thats in hock directly and not some pseudo free market, fanny/freddy, banks… and we all know how well that worked out don’t we?

      2. Big Bill

        You could argue that since we have our own government and our own central bank, money could be created by the central bank to build houses (at an appropriate cost) which could then simply be given to people who need them. Since we use fiat currency which is effectively backed by the wealth it’s used to create, there’d be no inflation bar a little technically between the creation of the money in question and completion of the properties. If that sounds mad then I’m probably on the right track. Consider the current situation, where banks, once granted a signature from a member of the public, create credit from thin air as a mortgage ‘loan’ which eventually results in their being paid that original sum many times over by that same hapless member of the public, without whom they couldn’t create the original money in the first place. How mad is that?

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  10. Mick McNulty

    George Orwell was right about doublespeak, how if you’ve been out of work for a given length of time you have to do voluntary work. And if there is work why is not a paid job, and what happened to the person whose job it was?

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  12. Paul

    This government should start finding proper jobs for the unemployed people instead of making them sit 8 hours in job centres all day where is the sense in that. What we need is jobs not some half-baked idea’s like this, they’ll apply for as many jobs as the Tories want them to do, but how many will get the offer a job. Same old Tories same old stories pick on the week and the poor they are picking a fight with everybody in the UK they are the only ones who seem to be happy, most of the working population can’t make end meet do you think they care they don’t give a toss for us serfs.

  13. pikelet

    Lone parents whose children are under 5 are now the only lone parents who don’t have to work or look for work – they can get Income Based JSA while searching with the usual conditions. This has gone down from youngest child <16 to <11 to <5 in (fairly) recent memory (at least if you are my age). How they are supposed to run a household and manage school holidays is not clear. Disabled people, including those with mental health conditions, can also find it hard to run a household as well as work, or even as well as work and look after children as well. How is anybody supposed to fit having a life into their schedule these days?

  14. Matt Kelly

    The Tory dictation that’s taking place is only happening because they know they stand no chance in the future elections thus it is a case of running the country into the ground to make sure it can’t be fixed for a long time … but hey as long as they get paid what do they care.

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