Universal Credit isn’t the reason 1,000 more people a day are in work – no matter what McVey says

You need to keep this article handy for the next time Esther McVey falsely claims Universal Credit has put 1,000 people a day into work since mid-2010.

On October 17, she said: “We know that [Universal Credit] is working and getting people into work because our employment figures that came out yesterday show over 3.3 million more people in work since 2010.”

Shame Universal Credit only started to be inflicted on claimants in 2013 – and still has not been fully implemented across the UK.

On October 12, she said: “What we’ve done is look at the whole benefit system, how do we get people into work, 1,000 people each and every day. Those people will be on less benefit by the sheer nature that they’re now in work.”

No, those who are unfortunate enough to be on Universal Credit are on less benefit because Universal Credit pays less benefit.

In addition to that – and to what follows below – it should be noted that it only appears to be assumed that 1,000 people a day are going into work. I’ve seen no figures from employers to prove it and it seems the Tory government is assuming that this is where people are going, with no evidence.

The simple fact is that the Conservatives have legislated to make claiming benefits more trouble than it is worth, forcing people to try to find other ways of surviving.

Many fail. They are dead.

I wonder if the Conservatives have checked death statistics to make sure that their missing claimants haven’t passed away. Considering their refusal to check on the progress of sickness benefit claimants who were refused Employment and Support Allowance, I’m willing to bet that they haven’t.

So we don’t even know for sure that 1,000 people have gone into work every day since mid-2010.

Now read on…

Ms McVey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has repeatedly linked welfare policies introduced under the Conservative and coalition governments since 2010 to there being 3 million more people in work. This is a misleading link to draw.

The total number of people aged sixteen or over and in employment increased by 3.3 million between February-April 2010 (just before the coalition government took office) and June-August 2018 in the UK. But the increase in the total population aged sixteen or over was similar: 3 million. In short, having record numbers of people in work doesn’t sound as impressive when you consider there are record numbers of people.

The “employment rate” is a better way of assessing the government’s record on increasing employment. It tells us what percentage of the population is in work, rather than the total number.

The employment rate among those aged 16-64 has increased under the coalition and Conservative governments, rising from 70% in February-April 2010 to 76% in June-August 2018. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has called the rising employment rate “remarkable”, in the context of wider economic performance in the decade since the financial crash.

But despite this rise, there is a second key problem with claiming that changing employment figures are down to welfare changes: we don’t have clear evidence for it.

If Ms McVey does mean Universal Credit when she says welfare reforms, then it certainly can’t have driven all the change in employment levels since 2010, as it was only introduced in 2013, and is still not in place across the whole of the UK.

The government also argues that this will get 200,000 more people will be in work by 2024/25 (compared to ten years earlier).

However, the National Audit Office says that, because of limitations in the methodology behind the government’s calculations, “the Department will never be able to measure whether Universal Credit actually leads to 200,000 more people in work”. They have also expressed “significant doubt” about the main benefits of Universal Credit.

The bottom line is that we can’t say with any precision what is driving changes in employment and unemployment rates.

Source: Universal Credit isn’t the reason there are 1,000 more people a day in work – Full Fact

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4 thoughts on “Universal Credit isn’t the reason 1,000 more people a day are in work – no matter what McVey says

  1. Nick

    Has she mentioned the other side of the coin mike in how many people have died through their mental state in her employment figures ?
    I thought not

  2. Barry Davies

    What she is claiming is that 1,000 a day are being denied help and they assume because of that they will find a job, the truth is more people are underpaid in work and claiming more than those being denied help.

  3. kateuk

    If they are simply looking at there being less benefits claimants, how about 1950s women like myself who have given up work “early” (ie before we can get a state pension) and aren’t claiming anything from the government, so we have vanished from their statistics. I worked in international trade, didn’t want to wait until I’m nearly 66 to get my state pension and retire, and couldn’t handle the thought of the mess and extra work/stress that Brexit would make to my job. I’ve moved house (liquidising some capital in the process) and am taking company pensions, I’m not rich by any means but I can live on what I have for a couple of years until I can get my state pension. I’m not working and not claiming anything, nothing to do with Universal Credit. I’m just lucky to be able to do that (although I shouldn’t have to).

Comments are closed.