Are the ONS gaming the unemployment figures? – alittleecon


No. No they are not, writes Alex Little. And he’s correct.

The ONS provide a full explanation of how they come up with the numbers. They are compiled via the Labour Force Survey, which adheres to international definitions of employment and unemployment. There is a lot more information contained in the link above, but the TL/DR version is they ask a lot of people – enough people to be able to make strong estimates for the whole economy – questions about their employment status. The results are then reported as the official numbers. They take account of people taking part in workfare-style schemes and people who have been sanctioned off JSA.

That’s right.

But the findings of the Oxford University/London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine report that supports claims that “punitive use of sanctions is driving people away from social support” do not suggest otherwise.

The report has this to say: “Studies have shown that individuals who are sanctioned and end up disconnected from work and welfare have lower human capital and other disadvantages that suggest they would face barriers to complying with the extensive conditions for receiving unemployment benefits.

“The conditions for receiving unemployment benefit have become increasingly demanding in the UK. The frequent interview requirements and required hours of job search activity likely make it difficult for those with restricted access to transportation, a computer, and a mobile phone, and those with young children to meet requirements.

“Similarly, the rise in individuals receiving sanctions for failure to participate in the Work Programme has raised concern that current processes for evaluating the needs of benefit claimants are inadequate, potentially resulting in inappropriate placements.

“It is also possible that people choose to abandon a welfare system that they find de-humanising. In one widely publicised case, a man who made redundant was forced to go back to the same company, only to work for free under conditions of a community work placement.”

Considering the stated methodology of the ONS and the disadvantages suffered by those who have been driven away (according to the Oxford/London report), it seems entirely likely that the ONS never came in contact with anyone who was affected in this manner.

Therefore both the ONS and the Oxford/London report can be correct and there is no need to suggest ‘gaming’ of the figures or a conspiracy of any kind between the ONS and the Department for Work and Pensions. In fact it seems odd that anybody would suggest such a thing.

There does, however, seem to be a large number of people for whom the official figures cannot account, who are no longer claiming benefit but do not appear as part of the increase in employees or the self-employed, and no attempt has been made to account for this (to clarify – this is what others have reported elsewhere in the social media, and that’s why it can only be reported here that this seems to be the case).

Who’s to blame for this discrepancy, if not the government that sets the current rules for receipt of benefits?

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11 thoughts on “Are the ONS gaming the unemployment figures? – alittleecon

  1. Jeffery Davies

    It seems the tories have taking us backwards in time to a dark place the sad fact is that alot of the poor believe their retric and lambast the people who on benefits yet if they stop and thought claim a working benefit they will be the next cannon fodder for rtu ids

  2. Karl Comrade Winnett

    Its not odd at all that there would be behind the scenes collaboration between the ONS and the DWP. Both organizations are run by the establishment lackeys, make the figures look good and they look good and get to keep their jobs. The evidence at ground level does not match the ONS statistics, there can only be one conclusion, Fiddling.

  3. jray

    Through this Blog and others,I have been able to avoid Sanctions,being informed of the current trends/policies of the DWP/JCP have proved to be invaluable in countering the constant BS that advisers/managers try to pull,I have sat next to other Claimants while signing on and been amazed at either the out right lies or lack of the actual DWP policies that the advisers are not aware of or refuse to pass on.

    Recently IDS announced training for those over 50,I followed the links on UGOV and after a few pages it refers you to your “Work Coach” when I asked about this,my WC was unaware of any programme,which has been the case every time I have asked about any new programme,do these programmes ever get implemented? or are the just good for a sound byte!

  4. chopale

    What happened to the statement in law. Government! website. This is the amount of money the “LAW” says you need?. Is there any other EU country; administering sanctions on it’s people; like our own law breakers?.

    1. wildswimmerpete

      “This is the amount of money the “LAW” says you need?”…………….is the level of Pension Guarantee Credit, currently £148.35 for a singles and £226.50 for couples.

  5. Lohengrin

    The definition of unemployed is

    a. Not working
    b. Looked for work in the past four weeks
    c. Available to start work in the next two weeks

    If you meet those three conditions you count as ‘unemployed’ whether you claim benefits or not (thus sanctions have no effect on the unemployment figures). This why the unemployment count is higher than the claimant count. For example, a full time student would count as unemployed if they were looking for work, even though they are not claiming benefits and are not entitled to claim benefits.

    If you do not count as unemployed, but you’re not working, maybe because you’re disabled or because you’re retired you count as economically inactive.

    There is no discrepancy in the figures.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      People claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance who have their benefits sanctioned by DWP staff are not included in unemployment counts. Nor are those who have been sucked into mandatory work activity schemes, for that matter…

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        That’s very interesting. I stand corrected. Clearly the information on which I was previously working was wrong.
        It’s good information, although of course it isn’t relevant to anything said in this article.

Comments are closed.