“Not even this much”: Iain Duncan Smith demonstrates how much he cares about the fact that his claims about unemployment being a lifestyle choice have been revealed as lies. It WON’T change his attitude and it WON’T change his policies.
Hopefully the piece’s author, Hugh Moir, will forgive us if we don’t bat an eyelid in surprise.
Researchers spent eight months failing to unearth any examples of joblessness as a lifestyle choice, or multiple generations of a family in which nobody had worked. And – crucially: “They did not find any prevailing aversion or reluctance to work.”
The article continues: “The new research does suggest that the reasons for long-term endemic joblessness are much more complicated than the story crafted by government and eagerly gobbled up by irresponsible programme makers and scrounger-seeking tabloids.”
What’s unusual about this particular article is that, rather than end it there, Moir goes in for the kill: “Attention to the multiple causes of long-term joblessness would require well-funded, well-staffed social services, a focus on problems such as alcohol abuse in deprived communities and resources to fight the ravages of drug addiction in poor areas. But these are the very services that feel the full effect of the government’s cuts in local-authority funding and its wider objective to shrink the state.
“This is waste of potential on a grand scale, ruining lives, and damaging to the economy. But in the absence of any strategy to deal with the problem at its most complex, we are offered a narrative to define it at its most superficial. Four years in, subjected to scrutiny, that approach may at last be starting to unravel.”
As, of course, it should.
Interestingly, the piece starts by referring to stories crafted by other politicians about themselves, to make them seem more appealing. So Bill Clinton was “the boy from Hope” – a small-town boy from Arkansas who did well, rather than a privileged American who had studied at some of the best universities in the world; and George W Bush claimed he was an average boy from an average family when we know his father was a leading Republican and president-to-be.
It does not mention RTU’s own self-crafted story – that he attended the Universita di Perugia in Italy, that he was educated at Dunchurch College of Management, that he had a glittering Army career. This is odd, because it is more clearly bunkum than either of the US Presidents’ claims.
Vox Political has produced an entire article about his lies – one which, due to their sheer weight of numbers, remains unfinished. For further information, why not take a look at it?
After that, you’ll never believe a single word he says.
The government’s latest draconian measure – to drive people who have been living off the state for more than three years into all the nonexistent jobs that ministers insist are waiting for them – was launched today. (Monday)
Help to Work forces jobseekers to sign on every day, commit to six months of voluntary work, or sign up to a training scheme (the last two effectively removing them from the government’s unemployment figures without getting them a job) – or face having their Jobseeker’s Allowance docked for increasing lengths of time.
It’s clearly a scam to fiddle the joblessness statistics but, dear reader, you’re intelligent enough to have worked it out before you even started reading this.
Of course, voluntary work must be offered without coercion – otherwise it’s slavery – and for this reason leading charities have already announced that they will boycott the mandatory work placement part of the scheme.
Particularly disturbing – and we should be grateful that they highlighted this – is the fact that this aspect would lead to jobseekers doing more than double the 300-hours’-maximum community work than convicted criminals, who are ordered to carry out certain tasks as punishment for their offences.
The Guardianused the government’s own data to prove that Help to Work does not increase anybody’s chances of getting a job, and is more likely to put people off signing on for the benefits to which they are entitled – a ‘punishment’ effect that the government is desperate to play down.
Esther McVey, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme in support of the scheme, said instead that it would be particularly useful for “people who have been away from the marketplace and the workplace for long periods of time”, and specifically mentioned those suffering from mental illness.
All right then, let’s ask this:
How well would this scheme fare in trying to find a job for a man aged 60 with no academic qualifications worth mentioning (left school at 14 and has lied about further education achievements), whose working life consists of a failed Army career that lasted less than six years, followed by irregular stints selling arms, working in a property company and selling gun-related magazines, in between periods on the dole. He has been funded by the taxpayer continuously since 1992 – a total of 22 years ‘parked’ at our expense. There are concerns about his state of mind, with fears that he suffers from paranoia and delusions.
Could Help to Work really find a job for a man like this?
Let’s hope so – because, if there’s any justice, Iain Duncan Smith will be looking for a job after next year’s general election.
Iain Duncan Smith wants to talk about child poverty – but how can we take him seriously when he starts the discussion with a lie?
“Recent analysis reveals that children are three times as likely to be in poverty in a workless family and there are now fewer children living in workless households than at any time since records began, having fallen by 274,000 since 2010,” according to the Department for Work and Pensions’ press release on the new consultation.
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), child poverty will rise from 2.5 million to 3.2 million during the 2010-2015 Parliament – around 24 per cent of all the children in the UK. By 2020, if the rise is not stopped, it will increase to four million – around 30 per centof all children in the UK.
Under the Coalition government, the number of people in working families who are living in poverty – at 6.7 million – has exceeded the number in workless and retired families who are in poverty – 6.3 million – for the first time.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has measured poverty, using several indicators, for more than 15 years; its figures are far more likely to be accurate than those of the government, which is still defining poverty as an income of less than 60 per cent of median (average) earnings. Average earnings are falling, so fewer people are defined as being in poverty – but that doesn’t make the money in their pockets go any further.
“The previous government’s target to halve child poverty by 2010 was not achieved,” states the DWP press release. Then it comes out with more nonsense: “The government is committed to ending child poverty in the UK by 2020 and the draft child poverty strategy sets out the government’s commitment to tackle poverty at its source.” From the JRF figures alone, we know that government policy is worsening the situation – or has everyone forgotten that 80,000 children woke up homeless last Christmas morning?
Let’s look at the government’s plans.
The DWP claims “reforming the welfare system through Universal Credit… will lift up to 300,000 children out of poverty, and cover 70 per cent of childcare costs for every hour worked”. But we know that Universal Credit is effectively a benefit cut for everyone put onto it; they won’t get as much as they do on the current benefits, and the one per cent uprating limit means falling further into poverty every year. Also, we found out this week that the housing element will be subject to sanctions if people in part-time jobs cannot persuade their employers to give them more hours of work. The claim is ridiculous.
The DWP claims the government will will increase investment in the Pupil Premium, provide free school meals for all infant school children from September this year, improve teacher quality, fund 15 hours of free early education places per week for all three- and four-year-old children and extend 15 hours of free education and care per week to two-year-olds from low income families. None of these measures will do anything to “tackle poverty at its source”. Tackling poverty at its source means ending the causes of poverty, not putting crude metaphorical sticking-plasters over the effects – which could be removed at any time in the future.
The DWP claims the government will cut tax for 25 million people by increasing the personal tax allowance, and cut income tax for those on the minimum wage by almost two-thirds. This means people will have more money in their pocket – but will it be enough, when benefit cuts and sanctions are taken into account? Will their pay increase with the rate of inflation? There is no guarantee that it will. And this move means the government will collect less tax, limiting its ability to provide services such as poverty-reduction measures.
The DWP claims the government will reduce water and fuel costs, and attack housing costs by building more homes. The first two measures may be seen as responses to aggressive policy-making by the Labour Party, and the last will only improve matters if the new dwellings are provided as social housing. Much of the extra spending commitment is made for 2015 onwards, when the Conservative-led Coalition may not even be in office.
These are plans to prolong poverty, not end it.
It is notable that the DWP press release repeats many of the proposals in an attempt to pretend it is doing more. Take a look at the list and count for yourself the number of times it mentions fuel/energy bills (three times) and free school meals (twice).
In fact, the only measures that are likely to help reduce the causes of poverty are far down the list: Increasing access to affordable credit by expanding credit unions and cracking down on payday lending (at the very bottom – and we’ll have to see whether this really happens because payday lenders are generous donors to the Conservative party); and reviewing – mark that word, ‘reviewing’ – the national minimum wage, meaning that the government might increase the minimum wage in accordance with Low Pay Commission recommendations.
The DWP press release quotes Iain Duncan Smith, who said the consultation re-states the government’s commitment to tackle poverty at its source, “be it worklessness, family breakdown, educational failure, addiction or debt”.
The measures he has proposed will not improve anybody’s chance of finding a job, nor will they prevent family breakdown, or addiction. The plans for education have yet to be tested and may not work. The plan for debt involves annoying Conservative Party donors.
The JRF has responded to the consultation diplomatically, but there can be no mistaking the impatience behind the words of Chris Goulden, head of poverty research. He said: “Given that it has been over a year since the initial consultation on child poverty measures, we are disappointed that the government is now going to take even longer to agree what those indicators will be.
“With one in four families expected to be in poverty by 2020, a renewed strategy to address child poverty is vital. Any effective strategy should be based on evidence and contain measures to reduce the cost of living and improve family incomes. However, until those measures are agreed, it is difficult to see how the government can move forward.”
Don’t be too concerned about moving forward, Chris.
How many of you tuned into the last episode of Benefits Street on Channel 4, and stayed on for the debate that followed?
Quite a few, I reckon.
They were worth watching, but the feeling that was left with this viewer (and I’ve been reviewing television for 20 years or more) is that we are talking ourselves around in circles – led by politicians with a vested interest in perpetuating the discussion.
They don’t want a solution. They want us to keep going over the same ground – which they have laid out for us with very specific limits – and they want to concentrate our anger about this issue so that we blame, not the people responsible – the tax dodgers who put money into tax havens that could be invested in British industry, the private landlords and low-paying bosses who are subsidised by the benefit system and the bankers who caused the economic crisis a few years ago – but the people who have been forced onto benefits through no fault of their own and are being persecuted for it by a punitive system that penalises them for failing to find jobs that really do not exist.
Look at the way David Cameron leapt forward with fistfuls of cash to pay for flood relief when Tory heartlands were affected, saying that money was no object and Britain is a rich country. We’re rich enough to look after the playing fields of Eton, but not our poorest citizens, according to his mentality. Property is worth more to him than people.
Why? Because the people who send their children to Eton are the people Cameron hopes will elect him (he can’t be re-elected; he didn’t win the 2010 election) in 2015. The unemployed are less likely to vote for him – in fact they are less likely to vote at all. It seems there is something about being rejected by society that instils a sense of listlessness and despair in the human psyche. People ask themselves: Why bother?
There are solutions, but it is cause for concern that we are not hearing about them from our MPs and politicians. Journalist Owen Jones came out with the clearest plan during the debate on Channel 4 last night, and it is well worth quoting in full.
He said: “Firstly let’s make it clear – work does not pay in this country. We hear that as a mantra, when most people in poverty get up in the morning and earn that poverty.
“We’re talking about people milking the system. Let’s talk about the low-paying bosses who are being subsidised with in-work benefits because, in the seventh-richest country on Earth, they won’t pay.
“If we’re talking about getting people into jobs I actually think we need to talk about solutions here. One in six workers in the last two years have claimed Jobseekers’ Allowance at some point; that’s a lack of security.
“What we need firstly is a massive house-building programme that would reduce the amount spent on Housing Benefit which, by the way, is not going into the pockets of these tenants – it’s lining the pockets of private landlords charging rip-off rents. If we build housing, it would create jobs and we would stimulate the economy as well.
“It goes the same with the need for an industrial strategy because what successive governments have done, and it started in the eighties, is let the secure jobs go to rot, if you like. Now, other countries like Germany, what they’ve done is had an industrial strategy. Instead of saying, ‘Hands off, let the market decide,’ they’ve said, ‘Actually we want to create jobs in renewable energy.’ Now we’ve just seen the floods; we’re going to have a lot more extreme weather, so let’s have an industrial strategy to go and create renewable energy jobs, giving people secure, dignified jobs, taking on the environmental crisis.
“These are solutions… We’ve got to change the debate we have at the moment where the real villains of the piece, like the tax dodgers who get away with not paying £25 billion a year in tax, like the private landlords and the low-paying bosses milking our welfare state, like the bankers who caused the economic disaster – they get away with it, but all we ever hear about is kicking people at the bottom.”
Absolutely right. And that’s all we’ll hear about it for the foreseeable future, as well. We won’t hear about returning to a full-employment society (which is perfectly possible), because that means the greedy rich will have less money for themselves in the short term.
In the long term, ensuring that there are properly-paid jobs for the most people, so they do not have to claim benefits, means that there is more money moving around the economy – and money makes money. The parasites – who are making a fortune unsustainably by working people hard and paying them poverty rations – would be just as rich in the long run, but they cannot bear to consider the possibility.
One has to consider whether they want to force people into poverty, just to make their own wealth seem more remarkable – the poverty trap as ego-trip, if you like.
But we won’t hear about that because it is politically inflammatory. Far better to set the lower classes against each other, laying blame on each other for problems that are caused by different people entirely – and laugh all the way to the offshore bank.
If I had to describe Britain to a foreigner, I would ask them to imagine a person being robbed outside a public lavatory, by the mayor of his town, while council workers started demolishing the building; the rich are destroying our public services and mugging us at the same time.
Very soon, the same people who are mugging you will be asking for your vote…
… while blaming you for problems they have done nothing to solve.
After the barrage of new policy plans from the Labour Party last week, David Cameron’s big revelation, at the end of the most disappointing Conservative conference since – well – the last one, is a hint that the Tories want to take benefits away from anyone under 25 who isn’t in work or education, if they win in 2015?
More repression, then. In a speech that we’re asked to believe is about making the UK a land of opportunity, of aspiration? A “land of hope and Tory”?
Land of hopeless Tories, more like!
Let’s look at those options. Put someone aged between 16 and 25 back into education and you put them into debt (unless they have very rich parents) – we have the Liberal Democrats to thank for that, after they betrayed their own manifesto promise and supported a massive increase in student fees.
Force them into work and its an employer’s market, isn’t it? They can hire or fire under any conditions they like – and the minimum wage will be no problem. You don’t like zero-hours contracts? Too bad – it’s a choice between being listed as employed but unlikely to get any paying work, or losing the pittance you live on anyway. Part-time wages putting you into debt? You’ll be homeless a lot faster without any benefits!
Whatever happens, of course, the benefit bill comes down and fewer people are classed as unemployed.
Just like George Osborne’s plan to put the long-term jobless on indefinite Workfare, this will falsify the employment figures to make it seem the Conservatives have improved the economy when in fact they are making matters worse.
The rest of it was a web of lies and waffle. It has been suggested that Cameron wanted to re-use his speech from last year, rewriting it minimally in the hope that nobody would notice, and that it would be worth finding out if this is true – but that would not get to the heart of the matter, which is that the Conservative Party has completely run out of momentum.
They’re at a dead stop and all they have to support them is falsehood.
Cameron’s speech started with a claim that the Tories are on the side of “hardworking” (it’s hard-working, David – learn some English) people. While he waffled, I had a look at some of the Tory slogans and tried to match some facts to the claims. So we have:
“A tax cut for 25m people” – but they put the cost of living up and wages down so “hardworking” people are worse-off.
“The deficit down by a third” – two years ago. It has been years since they made any notable progress.
“More private sector jobs” – that don’t pay “hardworking” people a bean because they’re part-time or zero-hours. They have also cut the public sector – and given those jobs to people on Workfare.
“Welfare capped” – so poor people are forced towards destitution or suicide
“Crime down” – because police are discouraged from recording crimes against “hardworking” people?
“Immigration down” – because the UK isn’t attractive to “hardworking” foreign people any more.
To these, Cameron added:
“Helping young people buy their own home” – by creating a debt bubble and asking the taxpayer to foot the bill.
“Getting the long-term unemployed back to work” – in order to falsify employment statistics.
“Freezing fuel duty” – and doing nothing about the huge, unjustified, price increases demanded by energy companies.
“Backing marriage” – with less than 20p a day for the poor.
“Creating wealth” – for whom?
“We are clearing up the mess that Labour left” – Labour didn’t leave a mess. Bankers left the mess. Why have the bankers not been cleaned up? Why has Mr Cameron thrown money at them instead?
He referred to the fact that Theresa May (finally managed to have Abu Qatada deported. She wants to get rid of the Human Rights Act, claiming it is necessary if the government is to be able to – among other things – deport suspected terrorists, right? So her action has proved that repealing an Act that protects the rights of British citizens isn’t necessary.
“Who protected spending on the NHS? Not Labour – us.” Wrong. At last count, spending on the NHS under the Conservative-led coalition was down. The plan was to spend £12.7 billion more by May 2015, but by December last year this meant the government needed to find more than £13 billion for this purpose.
He referred to the Mid Staffs hospital scandal as a Labour disaster – look to the Skwawkbox blog for the facts (hint: it’s not as clear-cut as Cameron pretended).
“When the world wanted rights, who wrote Magna Carta?” he said in all hypocrisy. Is he telling us the British people – who demanded those rights in the first place – are now demanding that he divest us of those same rights by repealing the Human Rights Act?
“When they looked for compassion, who led the abolition of slavery?” Fine words from a man whose lieutenant, Iain Duncan Smith, has been working hard to restore slavery for the unemployed, sick and disabled – even going to the lengths of pushing through a retrospective law, after his rules were found to be illegal.
“Whose example of tolerance – of people living together from every nation, every religion, young and old, straight and gay – whose example do they aspire to?” Perhaps someone should point him to his Home Secretary’s advertising vans, which preached intolerance of anyone who wasn’t demonstrably white and British by encourage people on the street to tell anyone else to “go home” in what Owen Jones called the language of knuckle-dragging racists.
His plea for Scotland to remain in the UK must have seemed particularly hypocritical, as the man who has passed more divisive policies than any other Prime Minister, possibly in British history, called for “Our Kingdom – United”.
“Let’s carry on doing what’s right for Britain,” said Mr Osborne. To which Graeme Garden, on radio’s greatest comedy panel show, may well have responded: “Right for the goolies of Britain!”
It’s hard to know what to make of the latest Conservative cock-up.
Is it another attempt to hoodwink the public by misrepresenting the figures? Is it another chapter in the long-running battle between Iain Pretentious-middlename Smith and George My-real-name’s-Gideon Osborne? Is it further proof that Job Centre Plus has a target percentage of sanctions to hit every month?
Is it all of the above? Yes, that seems most likely.
Let’s work through it together. The BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22539971 tells us that unemployment has risen by 15,000 between January and March, to 2.52 million. But the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance dropped by 7,300 – to 1.52 million. The figures, we’re told, came from the Office for National Statistics.
Now, the Department for Work and Pensions has added a little flesh to these bones. It seems that the rise in unemployment is partly due to a fall in the number of people on government back-to-work schemes – Workfare. Apparently there are 16,000 fewer people on these schemes (and 147,000 still stuck on them).
So the rise in unemployment is entirely due to people coming off Workfare, then. Right? Hard to tell. We’ll come to the reason in a moment. What this does show is the way the government has been using Workfare to hide the UK’s true unemployment total. The people who are still on back-to-work schemes don’t actually have jobs – they’re just registered as though they have, to save Ministerial face.
Another reason to believe the government is hiding the true extent of joblessness is the drop in the claimant count – the number of people actually claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance. Unemployment is up, but claims for unemployment benefits are down – how can that be right?
Is it, mayhap perhaps, because Job Centre staff have been ordered to toughen up their sanction regime in order to kick around five per cent of claimants off the books at any time, as has been suggested on this blog and in many other articles?
We don’t have an answer to that one. The figures don’t provide it and we certainly won’t get it from Iain D Smith’s DWP!
Let’s look at some more DWP figures. Unemployment has increased by 15,000 in the last three months, it says. But the number with jobs fell by nearly three times as many – 43,000. The level of economic inactivity is up by 47,000 to nine million. And of course, the number claiming JSA is down by 7,000.
They just don’t stack up, do they?
Oh, but hang on – “the figures continue to be affected by the re-assessment of existing claims for incapacity benefits – this is likely to have added to the JSA caseload”. But the JSA caseload has dropped!
So we have a rise in unemployment – that doesn’t reflect the true total because 147,000 people (possibly more) are still on government work schemes.
And we have a drop in benefit claims – even when an increased caseload of JSA claims from people who used to be on incapacity benefits are added in.
Meaning: More people are out of work, more people are being thrown off benefits and into destitution, and more people are turning away from pointless Workfare schemes.
Considering the ONS is estimating an average of 503,000 unfilled job vacancies – one for every five people out of work, even according to DWP figures – this tells us unequivocally that Mr… Smith’s strategy to get people back to work has failed utterly – mostly because it was a fairy tale from the start.
What does Mr Osborne have to say about this failure to stimulate growth in the employment market, failure of the Workfare schemes, and failure of the government to support those who need help to get back into work – pushing them off the books instead in what can only be seen as an admission of failure?
He said: “The fact is, the most recent economic news has been more encouraging. The economy is growing. Surveys are better. Confidence is returning to financial markets.”
He told the CBI business group: “We will stick with our approach which has seen the deficit cut by a third,” conveniently neglecting to mention that the drop in the deficit between 2012 and this year was one four-hundredth – a quarter of one per cent – not a third.
He said the government had a clear plan and it was working.
For that to be true, the plan cannot be to restore growth to the economy and get workless people back into well-paid jobs. The figures show quite clearly what the plan really is.
The plan is to cut off benefits to the workless and then blame them for the loss.
While Smith’s DWP comes out of this looking evil, it has also made Osborne – spouting rhetoric that makes no sense in the context of the figures – look like a fool.
Unrepentant: Ignorant old Tories like Lord Young cannot see anything wrong with starving workers – and, through lack of tax revenue, the benefit budget – to make fat profits for greedy business bosses. The families of all those who have died because of these policies might have a different point of view.
Apparently we are living in an excellent time for businesses to boost their profits – because labour is cheap.
That is what Lord Young, who advises David Cameron on enterprise, told the cabinet yesterday (May 11). His words make it crystal clear that working people who vote Conservative are classic examples of turkeys voting for Christmas. They beg to be exploited.
He said low wage levels in a recession made larger financial returns easier to achieve – in other words, he actually admitted that bosses could use the current state of the UK economy, as caused by his own government (not the previous Labour administration, for reasons we’ve covered in the past), to push workers’ wages down and keep more moolah for themselves.
Vox Political has accused the Conservatives of exactly this behaviour in the past, but we never expected to see a member of the government admit it so brazenly.
Perhaps this is more of the government’s pet ‘nudge’ theory at work. We have seen that benefit increases have been lowered in order to instil fear of destitution in the jobless, and in those who have low-paid jobs. Now, businesses are being urged to capitalise on this, exploiting their workforces with the obvious threat: “There are plenty of other people out there who’ll do it for less!”
Let’s just back this up with some statistics, courtesy of The Guardian , shall we? UK employees’ average hourly earnings have fallen by 8.5 per cent, in real terms, since 2009. That’s adjusting for inflation, and the newspaper got its figure from the Office for National Statistics.
Meanwhile, the 1,000 richest people in the UK are now worth more than £414 billion – up more than £155 billion in the three years to December 2012. And in April, the Tory-led government gave those people a £100,000 per year tax cut.
Lord Young is not to be confused with Sir George Young, the Tory Chief Whip who once famously said “the homeless are what you step over when you come out of the opera” – but he is cut from the same cloth.
He had to apologise after telling the Daily Telegraph that “for the vast majority of people in the country today, they have never had it so good, ever since this recession – this so-called recession – started”.
For this reason it is easy to suggest that he would have stepped over the body of Stephanie Bottrill, had he been the first to find it.
Oh – do you think that statement goes too far? Please, reserve your judgement until I have explained my reasoning.
Like so many members of the Tory government, this is a man who absolutely point-blank refuses to understand the relationship between the decisions he makes and the conditions in which the majority of us are forced to live.
This former advisor to the Prime Minister on health and safety laws has advocated relaxing them, ignoring the fact that this will increase the likelihood of work-related injury that makes it impossible for people who need the money to go to work.
This enterprise advisor was asked to conduct a “brutal” review of the relationship of government to small firms, presumably with a view to cutting off as much public assistance for small businesses as possible.
This former chairman of the Manpower Services Commission advised the late Baroness Thatcher on unemployment, and we may take it that it is due to this advice that joblessness skyrocketed during the Thatcher years.
He refuses to see that his attitude is causing the problem: By ensuring that Britain’s labour market remains “flexible” (read “low-wage”), he ensures that the national tax take remains far lower than it should be; low-paid workers form the overwhelming majority of the workforce. In turn, the low tax take means the government cannot pay off its debts and provides it with an excuse to cut public spending – especially on benefit payments.
Stephanie Bottrill had an auto-immune system deficiency, Myasthenia gravis, which meant she was permanently weak and needed constant medication. Doctors said she was too ill to hold a job, but she never qualified for disability benefits.
She committed suicide because she could not afford the cost of living after the Bedroom Tax was forced on her, and it has been said by others that she died for want of £20 per week.
It is the attitude of Tories like Lord Young that has deprived her of that money – and ultimately, of her life.
Today, the government was very pleased to announce, on the BBC and in all the usual right-wing rags, that the number of people out of work in the UK has fallen to its lowest total for more than a year – 2.51 million or 7.8 per cent of the working-age population.
But the claimant count – which tracks the number of people receiving Jobseekers’ Allowance and is the most timely measure of employment – rose by 10,100 last month, the largest increase since September 2011, as reported by the BBC and The Guardian.
Both figures were released by the Office for National Statistics, which seems to be treading on territory that is practically owned by the Office of Budget Irresponsibility.
Are you as confused as I am?
How can unemployment be down when more people are claiming for it?
It’s interesting that long-term unemployment has increased by 12,000, meaning those out of work for over a year now number 894,000.
Part-time employment rose by 49,000 to 8.1 million, more than a quarter of the workforce and close to a record high.
The fall in unemployment has been attributed to a reduction in youth unemployment, but that still leaves 963,000 people, aged between 16 and 24, looking for work.
Most tellingly, average incomes rose by 1.8 per cent for the year to date, while inflation measured according to CPI is now 2.7 per cent. According to RPI, it’s 3.2 per cent. That means the spending power is falling.
Economists say the job market is worsening, possibly as people who were hired for the Olympics, and other summer events, come off firms’ books.
Bank of England supremo Mervyn King said the figures suggested the labour market was “pretty strong” but said it was hard to reconcile this with the economy’s weak growth.
I’ve got a pretty good idea about that, Mervyn.
The economy is growing slowly because the vast majority of people aren’t being paid reasonably by their employers. Wages have grown by almost (or more than, depending which yardstick you use) a whole percentage point less than inflation. People don’t have the money to spend!
If the economy is to enjoy real growth, then the government needs to launch a major attack on tax avoidance and tax havens, get that money back into the UK Treasury where it belongs, and then use it to invest in British infrastructure and British business. That way, firms can get back on their feet and will have no excuse not to pay a living wage to workers. Then working-class people – the vast majority of the population – will have a higher disposable income and therefore more spending power (they’ve hardly got any to spare at the moment). They will use that money; it will go around the system again, and the economy will grow again.
If I can see that – and I’m no economist – why can’t you? Why can’t Gideon George Osborne?
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.