Vox Political vindicated on unemployment figures


How pleasant to see Vox Political‘s concerns about the massaging of UK unemployment figures being taken up by the kind of people the mass media actually respect.

A report on the BBC News website states that Conservative Party claims that unemployment has dropped by around 60 per cent in some areas is based on “wrong data” – in other words, the Tories are lying.

This blog has been saying that for a very long time!

The story says Tories have been using Jobseekers Allowance figures – the so-called Claimant Count – to justify their claims, but the independent Office for National Statistics showed only a 20 per cent drop in those seats. The ONS said online: “the number of unemployed people in the UK is substantially higher than the claimant count”.

Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (and well-known to readers of this blog), said: “Many people who are unemployed don’t claim JSA… JSA figures at the local level are accurate, but it is not correct to confuse JSA rates and unemployment.”

In the BBC story, a Tory spokesman said the concern over the data was “nonsense”. He said: “This unemployment measure is provided by the independent House of Commons Library – and for constituencies they are the most up to date and most reliable numbers to use.”

Yes, the House of Commons Library does provide figures – with a caveat that they do not include the number of unemployed people claiming Universal Credit, and there is no date set for when those figures will be included in the Claimant Count (as reported by David Hencke in November last year). The current way of calculating these figures is misleading from the start.

In an article from the same month, This Writer made some other pertinent points:

“If employment has increased – and there’s no reason to say it hasn’t – we can also conclude that the reason employers are more willing to take people on is that they can pay peanuts for them and rely on the government to top them up with in-work benefits. It seems likely that the work was always there but employers weren’t going to take anybody on if it meant increasing the wages bill and reducing the amount of profit available to them. Now that zero-hours contracts are available, along with part-time schemes that deny people pensions and holiday pay, it’s a different matter.

“The number of people who were self-employed increased by a staggering 186,000, to reach 3.25 million, while people working as self-employed part-time increased by 93,000 to reach 1.27 million. That’s 4.52 million – almost one-sixth of the total number of people in work. If you think that’s great, you haven’t been paying attention. Remember this article, warning that the increase was due to older people staying in work? And what about the catastrophic collapse in self-employed earnings we discovered at the same time?

“How many of these are people who have been persuaded to claim tax credits as self-employed people, rather than jump through the increasingly-difficult hoops set out for them if they claimed Jobseekers’ Allowance – and do they know they’ll have to pay all the money back when their deception is discovered?

“The number of people in part-time employment has also increased, by 28,000 to reach 6.82 million. Are we to take it that this means under-employment has increased again?

“Public sector employment has fallen again. If you want to know why the government keeps messing you around, there’s your answer. There aren’t enough people to do the job. This month’s statistics show 11,000 fewer public sector employees than in March, and 282,000 fewer than this time last year.

“Unemployment is said to have dropped – but remember, this is not counting people who have been sanctioned. A recent study by Professor David Stuckler of Oxford University suggests as many as half a million people could have been sanctioned off-benefit in order to massage the figures, meaning that the total listed – 931,700 – is probably wrong. Remember also that Universal Credit claimants aren’t counted, nor are those on government work schemes – another 123,000 people.

“This means the actual unemployment rate is likely to be double the number provided by the official statistics.

“And what about people on ESA/DLA/PIP?”

In January this year, This Writer added: “New research by Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has shown that only around one-fifth (20 per cent) of people who have been sanctioned off of Jobseekers’ Allowance have actually found work, leaving 1.6 million in limbo; they’re off the benefits system but researchers can only surmise that they are relying on food banks.”

And in February, Vox Political had this point to make: “We also know that many thousands have died – through suicide or complications of their physical conditions (if claiming incapacity benefits) after receiving decisions that were not only wrong, but may have been fraudulent.”

Whichever way you slice it, the Tories aren’t being straight with you.

You can trust Vox Political to give you the facts, though.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
providing the accurate information that you need to know.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:


15 thoughts on “Vox Political vindicated on unemployment figures

  1. Kay

    Here I am, 7+ years unemployed…only I’m not on unemployment figures as they have me wasting my time doing ‘taster’ courses at college (heaven forbid they help me get onto a real college course that may help me back into work).

  2. joseph whodafunk bloggs

    Doesnt this just mean there are big inaccuracies in how UK govts count unemployment? And so wouldn’t the Labour unemployment figures for the last governments also be wrong?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Yes, but that’s a slightly different thing. The article is pointing out that Tories are using the Claimant Count, rather than the ONS’s actual unemployment figure, when describing the drop in unemployment in their constituency, meaning they are wrong even by their own standards.
      However, I would certainly agree with you that, what with all the different ways of fiddling the figures that have been used, at least since the time of the Thatcher government, it has been a very long time since even an approximately accurate measure of unemployment has been used.

  3. thomassutcliffe

    This post deserves wide exposure, and I have already shared it with my twitter followers and am including a link to it in the post I am in the process of creating on aspiblog.wordpress.com

  4. M de Mowbray

    “There are lies, there are damned lies and there are statistics”. This Mis-government has already been rebuked by ONS and the Information Commissioner’s Office for its manipulation of statistics. Tories are happy to lie, mis-lead and falsify and clearly consider that it is justifiable as part of their plan to impose Neo-Feudalism on Britain.

  5. jray

    I have felt this for a long time as the fall in the claimant count was similar to the amount of sanctions,some people that attended(?) the WP with me were convinced to go self employed,now the HMRC are asking for records and bank details,some have tried to sign on,but are being refused as “You are still able to trade” according to the JCP this is a whole pile of shit that was invented by the DWP and the Providers of the WP to enrich the Providers and fiddle the figures IMHO.

  6. paulrutherford8

    If the number of ‘people in work’, doing some of the 2million jobs the tories keep saying they’ve created, has increased as they keep saying, it strikes me as odd that the tax receipts have dropped.

    Even taking into account the tax-reductions for the over-£150 k/pa earners, logic would suggest that extra jobs would mean extra tax-revenues. But it doesn’t in tory 2015.

    Whenever politicians argue, they never seem to point out the obvious! They just say things like “when we were in government, we did x, y & z, so the unemployment figures dropped.” Why don’t they point out that these jobs *are* low-paid, part-time, or dodgy self-employed as you rightly point out? On question time this week, it was an audience member who pointed this out… as usual. Harriet Harman ought to have stated it.

    I know someone who was ‘encouraged’ to go self-employed. I keep asking them why they only open their ‘shop’ ‘by appointment’, and don’t stay there all day, thus encouraging ‘walk-in clients’. The answer is that they were “TOLD” by the JC+ advisor to just do the ‘minimum’ so they qualify for tax credits.

    I do not call that self-employment. In a sense, it is not far off ‘scrounging’. This person could very, very easily be self-financing, by doing more than a couple of hours a day ‘at the office’, but chooses to do the minimum… by following ‘advice’.

    **Disclaimer** Before anyone jumps down my throat about this example, it is a family member who is very aware of my thoughts on the matter.


  7. bookmanwales

    The employment figures used by the ONS also differ in their application. When calculating the percentage of working people in the country they include everyone over the age of 16, when calculating the unemployment rate they only include those 16 to 64.

    As unemployment was over 2 million when the Tories came to power how come after 2 million jobs were “created” why do we still have 1 million unemployed ?

    On the matter of taxes raised Income tax and NIC has fallen by 3% since 2010/11 , corporation tax receipts are lower than 2007/8 and vat has barely moved as a percentage of GDP over the last 5 years.

    This booming economy with record employment doesn’t really seem to be doing anything for the economy as a whole and certainly isn’t paying towards reducing the deficit.

    It makes me wonder just how bad journalism and news reporting in general has become, all these figures are readily available for anyone to check yet all we get in the news is lies, lies and more lies to cover up the lies.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Of course, I’m one of the journalists who have been trying to present the facts to the wider public, so I can’t really comment on bad journalism!

      1. robin-mcburnie

        And one of the few doing a sterling job of it! Bet they wouldn’t let you publish most of your output in the MSM. They only catch up months later when something becomes so obvious that it can no longer be ignored! Even then they often get their facts wrong, perhaps if they simply read your blog and made notes… Oh no they are too busy looking over each other’s shoulders and copying and pasting!

  8. Barney Turner

    An excellent summary of the current state of play.
    VPO, got to say yourself, Another Angry Voice, Disability News Service (n.b. I`m not disabled & have generally good health…so far) & several other blogs are actually informing & enlightening.
    Completely agree with the description “looking over each others` shoulders & copying & pasting” re: the vast majority of the MSM.
    Please continue (along with the others mentioned) to do what you do, & many thanks.

  9. Charles Loft

    Unemployment is rising substantially and long-term because increasing technology is removing middle and lower tier jobs. No politician who wants a job or wants to keep a job is going to admit this, which is the entire problem.

Comments are closed.