Tag Archives: self-employment

What is the REAL reason more older people are working?

older-workersThe Conservative Government slipped out an insidious little press release over the weekend, claiming the number of people aged 50-65 who have found paid work has hit a record high.

Apparently, more than 8.2 million people in that age group are now in work – almost as many as those aged 25-49. The Tories are keen to claim that this is a good thing, but is it?

How much of this figure is the result of fewer people taking early retirement because they have found they cannot afford it? How much is the result of more people staying on in self-employment because they cannot afford to stop, rather than starting new employment with government help?

The figures provided by the Office for National Statistics (covering the period between April and June this year) don’t tell us much that is helpful.

They say the overall number of people in self-employment has risen by 8,000 in the last three months – but the number of employees has dropped by 54,000.

Looking at the different age groups, the difference between employees and the self-employed is not recorded, but the 50,000 more people working in the 50-64 age group is offset by a drop of 22,000 in the 34-49 age group.

Isn’t it likely that these people have simply passed the age of 50 while keeping the jobs they already had?

No figures are provided for the number of people who retired during these three months.

From what we see, it is entirely possible that the 50,000 ‘extra’ workers are entirely composed of people who have kept their current jobs, people who are self-employed and people who have decided not to retire – in the last two categories, probably because they can’t afford it!

Now look at the Conservative Government’s press release:

“The government is committed to changing perceptions of older workers amongst employers and promoting the business benefits of maintaining an age-diverse workforce.”

That’s changing perceptions of older workers – not actually putting them into work.

“These efforts are part of a wider determination to give working people across the UK the chance to get on at every stage of their life and ensure everyone has the opportunity to achieve the dignity of a job, the security of a pay cheque, and a comfortable retirement.”

Oh, the Tories are determined to give older people a chance, are they? That doesn’t mean they’re actually doing anything.

“Pensions Minister Baroness Altmann said: ‘Record numbers of older people are bringing their skills, talents and experience into the UK workplace, which is good news for people’s incomes, their future pensions, and the overall economy.'”

There’s nothing in this to suggest that the Conservative Government had a part in it.

“‘But with 735,000 vacancies in the economy today, businesses are still not making the most of the opportunities that this huge pool of talent has to offer.'”

No indeed – it seems more likely that they are continuing to ignore those opportunities, and the increased in-work figure is due to entirely different reasons.

“‘As part of our one nation approach, this government wants to see employers do even more to eradicate outdated misconceptions and age discrimination, so that employers realise the benefits when they retain, retrain and recruit staff who are over the age of 50.'”

“Wants to see.” That translates as “isn’t actually doing anything”.

The whole story stinks worse than an abandoned fish market.

It reminds This Writer of an article published here in October 2014, based on the findings of our friends at Flip Chart Fairy Tales. The conclusion was: “What we’re seeing, then, is a huge rise in the number of people who find themselves unable to retire because they won’t have enough income to support themselves.”

And the Tory press release?

Part of the philosophy of The Big Lie that the Conservative have taken back from the Nazi Party in Germany during the 1930s and 40s is the principle of staying with the lie so that, if it isn’t believed at first, constant repetition will hammer down the resistance of the masses until they accept what they are fed:

“The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”

The man who said those words was Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

They could easily be applied to Baroness Altmann.

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Torygraph double-talk would drag us back to primeval politics

Good riddance: Tony Blair (pictured on his return from his final Prime Minister's Questions on June 27, 2007) tried to marry left-wing social policy with neoliberal economics. This 'Third Way' failed when the right-wing economies of the western world fell apart in 2007-8.

Good riddance: Tony Blair (pictured on his return from his final Prime Minister’s Questions on June 27, 2007) tried to marry left-wing social policy with neoliberal economics. This ‘Third Way’ failed when the right-wing economies of the western world fell apart in 2007-8 [Image: Telegraph].

Here’s a lunatic for you: Janet Daley, writing in the Telegraph.

Contrary to all the evidence, her article Labour has forgotten all the lessons it learnt under Blair would have us believe that Old Labour is back with a vengeance, having discarded all the right-wing tricks it picked up under Tony Blair.

By now, most of you are probably sighing wistfully and murmuring “If only” at your screens. We all know it isn’t true but there’s an ideological agenda at work here – this Daley woman (a former Philosophy lecturer, if you can countenance such a background for such a person) needs to undermine Labour’s credibility. “After all the progress we appeared to be making towards a mature national discourse, we find ourselves back in the pubescent stage of political debate that brought the country to a standstill a generation ago,” she writes. Not unless her own politics drags us back there!

Unfortunately for her, she makes a proper pig’s ear of it. “Once again, we have a centrist government,” she claims. No, no we don’t. We have the most right-wing government any of us can remember. If that is her starting premise, this article can only go downhill – like an avalanche.

“Once again, those who govern are trying to find sensible solutions to the most important problems of the day – now it is welfare dependency and the delivery of public services, back then it was trades union law.” Those are not the most important problems of the day. The most important problems are income inequality and the rebalancing of the economy away from reliance on the financial sector that has let us down.

Welfare dependency only became an issue because the right-wing (Tory) government of Margaret Thatcher demanded it. As has by now been well-documented here and elsewhere, she was desperate to end the security afforded to the working class by full employment – it meant employees could demand higher wages from bosses who were greedily desperate to keep their profits for themselves. So she deliberately maimed British industry, creating a huge surge in unemployment (such that she had to hide the full extent of unemployment by putting many claimants on Incapacity Benefit instead). Her anti-union laws then made it increasingly difficult for workers’ representatives to negotiate meaningful wage settlements. Put together, these moves allowed executives to depress wages – but meant full employment could never happen again under a Conservative government.

(The current Tories are paying lip-service to it at the moment, but if you think zero-hours contracts, part-time and temporary work, and a surge in the self-employed sector that claims tax credits is full employment, you’re deluded.)

The Tory concern with delivering public services is easily addressed: They want to privatise everything and make the public pay through the nose, as individuals, for services they could previously receive for an equitable price by paying collectively.

You see, it’s all about greed with the Tories. They want more – you pay for it.

It seems Ms Daley has guessed that she might receive criticism for her suggestions, so she states, without a hint of humour: “Their efforts to talk sense – even to argue sensibly – are being bombarded by a cacophony of hysterical inanities from the ideological Left, some of it purely self-serving and the rest of it grotesquely naïve.”

How droll. We move on.

She tells us about “Tony Blair’s forcible remodelling of the Labour message to acknowledge the popular longing for aspiration and self-determination” as if she meant it. Tony Blair was a Third Way politician – he believed in left-wing social policies and right-wing, neoliberal economics. But right-wing economics failed spectacularly in 2007-8 when the banks – deregulated by Margaret Thatcher – proved they could not act responsibly on their own.

She suggests “the vindictive way it has been stamped out by the present-day Labour leadership” but can anybody see what she means by this?

Aspiration and self-determination have been brutally stamped out by the current Coalition government, with its homicidal policies to drive people away from its new social insecurity system and the previously-mentioned zero-hours, part-time, and temporary employment contracts that ensure employees have no chance of progression in their (short-term) jobs. There is more opportunity for aspiration and self-determination in remodelling businesses away from the corporate structure and into the form of worker-owned co-operatives, a long-cherished left-wing model of employment. But try getting that past a neoliberal executive!

Ms Daley’s article makes passing derogatory reference to the fall of Communism but in fact right-wing, neoliberal politics most closely resembles tribal Communism of the kind that was practised in the former Soviet Union, with the workers slaving for a pittance while the benefits are shared among the ruling class – who use state resources to support their corrupt regime. Does that seem familiar to you?

Ms Daley puts forward the belief that Bill Clinton was right to limit the amount of time anyone in the USA could claim state benefits, clearly indicating that this should be the next step for the Tories, here in the UK. “This precipitated an economic boom by pushing those forced off welfare into employment,” she gushes. Perhaps she hasn’t noticed the big question of the last week: A huge number of people have been forced off UK state benefits, and nobody knows where they are. They don’t have jobs because the jobs weren’t there for them. If there had been jobs for them, they would not have been forced off-benefit in the first place.

Then she gets her claws into Ed Miliband and Ed Balls: “Any rational discussion of the future of health care has become out of the question,” she says. Indeed – because the Conservative Party is hell-bent on selling it off, no matter how irrational this has been proved to be.

“Taxation is not necessary simply to raise funds to cover essential government functions, but to punish the undeserving whose social crime is to be more successful (or to have lived too long in a house that has rocketed in value) than many others,” she crows. No, it isn’t. Under Labour, taxation would cover government functions – it’s simply that those with the ability to pay would have to do so, rather than relying on the poor to do it for them.

The Mansion Tax should be seen in the context of the times: If the neoliberal right had been less keen on corruptly lining their own pockets and more keen on actually improving prosperity for all, there would be no need to find such ways of restoring the balance.

She moves on to poverty, claiming: “Scarcely anyone believes now that absolute poverty – the hunger and squalor that a significant proportion of Britons suffered within living memory – is a national problem. Food banks may have sprung into existence, but they are used largely as stop-gaps when benefit payments are delayed. Poverty is understood (even by its activists) to be relative. There is a more sophisticated understanding of the multiple social problems that produce real disadvantage: drug and alcohol dependency, broken families and, of course, welfare dependency.” By whom?

A significant proportion of Brits are suffering hunger and squalor now. That is why a significant proportion of Brits are being forced to suicide now – and why the DWP is doing all it can to cover up that fact now. Otherwise, why hide the number of ESA claimant deaths? Why shroud in secrecy the findings of investigations into claimant suicides?

Her discussion of food banks is astonishing – but should be best left to food bank organisers like the Trussell Trust to combat.

Finally, she moves to her claim that people are trapped by the benefits system. This whole article, it seems, is about defending Iain Duncan Smith! “So long as government was paying people to be poor, and penalising them for working through the tax system, the problem of relative poverty would never be cured.”

But that is a practice created by the Thatcher government and continued now – in fact, Duncan Smith’s DWP pushes benefit claimants right into the dirt with its punitive (and, some are now claiming, fraudulent) demands. Benefit claimants are now more helpless than ever. Their only real escape from the torment forced on them by a greedy government under the command of grasping industrialists is to drop out of the system altogether.

This article – together with its author – is a travesty; it is the incoherent, defending the inexcusable.

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On the international Day of Older People, more older people in the UK were having to stay in work

If there is a drawback to Second Reading (the House of Commons Library blog), it’s that the library’s stern practice of impartiality means that it can end up producing figures on a phenomenon without being able to explain why that phenomenon came about.

So it is with yesterday’s figures on ‘Older people in the UK labour market’ – which looks at key statistics regarding older people who are still in work.

First we get a graph showing that the number of people aged over 65 who are still in work has more than doubled, from 4.9 per cent in 1994 to 10.1 per cent (of 11 million people, making 1.1 million) in 2014.

141001-employment-rate

Before anybody leaps in to say they’re taking jobs away from younger people, it is worth reading on to discover that they are far more likely to be self-employed or working part-time (79 per cent of the total, with 39 per cent self-employed – 438,000 people).

That’s really as far as Second Reading can go. Fortunately we have Flip Chart Fairy Tales to provide more insight into the reasons. In an article posted on August 1 this year, this blog states:

Chris Giles wrote a piece in the FT this week arguing that most of the increase [in self-employment] is due not to lots more people becoming self-employed but to lots more people not leaving self-employment who would otherwise have done so.

If that’s the case, you can’t even blame the catastrophic collapse in self-employed earnings after 2008 on there being lots of new people who didn’t know what they were doing. If Chris is right, this is old-timers seeing their business shrink, rather than newbies trying to find their feet, under-charging and messing things up [all boldings mine].

The same goes for the increase in the number of self-employed tax credit claimants and the steady rise in non-employing and non-VAT paying businesses. If there has been no surge in new entrants, then either a lot of low profit and low turnover businesses are hanging on in there, or a lot more of them have become low-profit and low turnover businesses since 2008.

Chris says we should stop complaining because self-employment boosts tax revenues. It hasn’t done much boosting in recent years though. Despite the increase in numbers of people, the declared income of the self-employed was down by £8bn between 2008 and 2012.

What we’re seeing, then, is a huge rise in the number of people who find themselves unable to retire because they won’t have enough income to support themselves.

It has been said that Conservatives try to look after the elderly, because they are the only population group that is sure to vote in elections.

It seems the Tories have forgotten around 1.1 million of them.

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The taxless recovery – Flip Chart Fairy Tales

This is no ordinary recovery, according to Flip Chart Fairy Tales. Not only has it taken a hell of a long time to do not very much, it’s seen collapsing productivity and very little wage growth, even for those who appear to be highly skilled. As a result of all this, even though the economy grew at over 3 percent, tax revenues didn’t increase at the same rate.

As Ben Chu’s chart shows, most of the rise in tax revenue since the recession is due to VAT.

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Record numbers of people in employment, it seems, hasn’t led to record levels of income tax.

When you break out the figures for income tax, as Michael O’Connor did earlier this week, there is a marked difference between receipts from those on PAYE and those on self-assessment.

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Falling self-assessment receipts are, for the most part, a symptom of falling self-employment incomes. Around three-quarters of the employment growth since the recession has come from self employment yet between them, the self-employed are still delivering a lot less tax. We won’t see the final 2013 HMRC figures for self-employment incomes until January but these charts suggest that the spectacular fall in self-employment earnings between 2008 and 2012 hasn’t improved by much. Probably the closest estimate we have for self-employed pay since 2012 is by Laura Gardiner at the Resolution Foundation. The low tax receipts indicate that self-employed earnings may have continued to fall or are, at best, stagnating.

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 16.43.58

Things might be about to get worse for some of the self-employed. As Ben Dellot explains, the new Universal Credit system could leave many of them worse off. According to the RSA’s calculations, 37 percent of the self-employed earn less than the minimum income floor, which is set at around the full-time minimum wage. (That sounds about right. A study by the IFS found that 40 percent of the self-employed earn less than the minimum wage.) Not all the self-employed currently claim tax credits but those who do, and who fall below the income floor under the new system, will find their benefits cut. The self-employed now account for almost a fifth of tax credit claimants so this is likely to affect a lot of people.

Read the rest of the article on Flip Chart Fairy Tales.

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New employment figures mean workers are worse-off

Do today's lower unemployment figures really mean fewer people are out of work?

Do today’s lower unemployment figures really mean fewer people are out of work?

The government will no doubt be ecstatic about new figures from the Office for National Statistics, claiming that unemployment has fallen again and now stands at 2.02 million, or 6.2 per cent of the workforce.

That does not mean more people are in work!

We know from other statistical releases that the highest rise in – let’s call it – ’employment’ is due to people claiming they are self-employed (whether they are actually doing any work or not – some are sole traders who have stayed on past retirement age because business has been poor, while others are unemployed but prefer to claim tax credits rather than run the gauntlet of unfair benefit sanctions at Job Centre Plus (until HMRC catches up with them)).

And the proliferation of ‘Mandatory Work Activity’ schemes means another large proportion of people without jobs are being wiped from the books every month, while they slave for large corporations at the taxpayers’ expense.

This is reflected in the fact that average wages have risen by just 0.6 per cent in the last year. Take out executive pay and you can bet that average pay has fallen.

Now let’s add in the fact that CPI inflation is at 1.5 per cent – almost one per cent higher than the fiddled rate of pay. And RPI inflation is even higher, at 2.4 per cent.

This means, as the BBC News article points out, that “for most of us, there’s more month left at the end of the money and not vice versa”.

These figures are a disaster for the majority of British people who are on low pay and/or benefits.

Do not let Tory politicians or their mouthpieces in the media fool you.

It is all part of your government’s policy to weaken and enslave the most vulnerable.

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The great jobs deception

[Image: ONS.]

[Image: ONS.]

It is sad that many people are likely to see this month’s headline increase in employment and take it as a sign that the British economy really is on the mend, as the Coalition keeps claiming.

Silly, silly people.

Exactly one week ago, the Department for Work and Pensions announced “the steepest annual fall in unemployment in a quarter of a century“, adding that “unemployment fell by 437,000 over the past year – and 132,000 in only the past three months – which is the biggest annual fall in 25 years”.

This blog has already pointed out that it is possible to account for all of the drop in unemployment over the last three months as being due to sanctions placed on jobseekers by the Department for Work and Pensions. The figure is meaningless.

The DWP also stated that the number of people in work was continuing to rise, “with 820,000 more people in a job compared with 12 months ago”. This masks an inconvenient truth that ministers would rather you didn’t know – about self-employment.

Self-employment, the government would have you believe, is one of the great success stories of the Coalition. More people are self-employed now than at any point over the past 40 years – with the total number of people in self-employment rising by 408,000 in the last year, to 4.59 million according to the Office for National Statistics.

The ONS also tells us that the rise in total employment since 2008 is mostly among the self-employed, which may – on the face of it – seem good.

Here’s the hammer-blow: Average income from self-employment has fallen by 22 per cent since 2008-9.

Self-employed people are a lot worse-off than they used to be.

It seems Flip Chart Fairy Tales was absolutely right to say fewer people were leaving self-employment (the ONS confirms this), and we may conclude that FCFT is right in its belief that this is because people have not been able to reach their target in terms of pensions (the number of over-65s who are self-employed has more than doubled in the past five years to reach nearly 500,000), or there is no employed work available for people of their expertise or experience.

These are people who are seeing their business shrink but have nowhere else to go. For them, there has been no economic upturn at all.

Figures also show an increase in the number of self-employed tax credit claimants. This is because claiming self-employment and taking tax credits is easier than signing on the dole and living in fear of being sanctioned.

More people are in work – those figures aren’t wrong, but the reasons behind them are not what the government would have you believe.

Self-employed people are remaining in business, despite dwindling returns, because they simply cannot afford to stop.

Those who are claiming tax credits are not contributing to the economy – quite the opposite, in fact.

So the latest employment figures are nothing to shout about and the government is deceiving you in doing so.

A better indicator of our economic well-being would be to measure the number of people who contributed to the Treasury by paying income tax.

The government does not provide that figure.

Quelle surprise.

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Keep talking, Iain – your idiot ideas will run your party right out of office

Honest appraisal: The national opinion of Iain Duncan Smith is reflected in this comment, delivered direct to the Work and Pensions Secretary by 'pigeon post'.

Honest appraisal: The national opinion of Iain Duncan Smith is reflected in this comment, delivered direct to the Work and Pensions Secretary by ‘pigeon post’.

Iain Duncan Smith typifies the classical definition of an idiot – and his latest speech will prove it by ignoring Britain’s real problems in favour of self-centred, ideologically-motivated foolishness.

The Greeks used to believe idiots were ignorant people, incapable of ordinary reasoning, whose judgement in public and political matters was poor – but who refused to change their minds.

If you don’t think that’s Iain Duncan Smith, take a look at parts of his speech, as quoted in today’s (Monday) Daily Torygraph.

First off, take a look at the headline: “Cutting benefits is vital for economy, says Iain Duncan Smith”. Why? That money goes out to people on extremely low incomes who cannot save it and must use it immediately, to service their needs. They spend it straight away, boosting the economy as it then passes through the system. Taking it away from people will only stall the system so Duncan Smith is wrong from the start.

This is why we call him RTU, or Returned To Unit, on this blog. It’s a phrase referring to his Army career in which he did not achieve promotion to Captain despite training at Sandhurst. This kind of failure, in the Army, leads to a soldier being RTU’d as a failure.

Look at his main claim – that immigrants have taken British jobs, not ahead of British people, but because British people refused to take them, preferring a life on benefits. The man is delusional.

Does he not understand the hell into which he has turned the benefit system? Getting any money out of the Department for Work and Pensions at all is a minor miracle in the age of RTU! The disabled are forced to wait months at a time, without any means of support, while hired hands from private profiteer companies mull over whether the DWP should bother to help, while people who are actively seeking work are sanctioned by Job Centre Plus for attending job interviews rather than signing on.

Those who do get work are either encouraged into self-employment at extremely low pay and no holidays or pensions, zero-hours contracts at extremely low pay with no holidays or pensions, or part-time work with extremely low pay and no holidays or pensions. The figures make it seem that full-time work is increasing but these are reversed when self-employment is removed.

He is trying to say unemployment surged upwards after 2008 because people were refusing work, in line with the Conservative Party’s current attempt to re-write history. In fact it increased because of a recession engineered by greedy bankers that cost many thousands of jobs and had nothing to do with migrant workers or the preferences of the people affected.

In fact, the way to get British people back to work is the exact opposite of what RTU has been doing, and the exact opposite of what he is proposing.

The Conservatives have been pushing wages down, and squeezing benefits with below-inflation rate rises in order to make it possible for them to say they are “making work pay”. Anyone can see through this lie – just because work pays slightly more than benefits, that doesn’t mean it pays enough.

Look at the way the number of people claiming in-work benefits at the moment has shot through the roof, because employers refuse to pay even subsistence wages any more. That is a complete answer to the nonsense in RTU’s speech.

But he wants to make matters worse by lowering the Benefit Cap further – from the already-below-what’s-needed £26,000 per family to £18,000 – the average amount of take-home pay, according to new figures his party has plucked from its posterior.

It is an idiotic move; taking money out of the economy will stall it.

If he were to encourage firms to pay the Living Wage, ensuring that workers do not have to claim benefits at all, he would find that all the issues he mentions would disappear.

Sure, some people would want to remain on benefits – there is an acknowledged 0.7 per cent rate of fraud and error, after all (yes, just 0.7 per cent, and RTU spends billions trying to say it is worse) – but most are desperate to be self-sustaining and would take work that allowed them to achieve that aim.

These people would still be low-earners, meaning the money would still be spent into the economy straight away on necessities, and to pay off debts accrued under RTU’s disastrous regime – and this means it would provide much-needed lubrication for the economy.

They would also be paying Income Tax, rather than claiming benefits, meaning funds would pour into the Treasury rather than out of it.

All the talk of economic recovery indicates that employers are in a much better position to provide the Living Wage, now, than they were over the last few years, so why isn’t Iain Duncan Smith suggesting so in his speech today?

Simple.

He’s an idiot.

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The self-employment deception will leave Osborne wrong-footed over tax returns

Not the whole story: But it seems unemployed people claiming they are self-employed may still be part of it.

Not the whole story: But it seems unemployed people claiming they are self-employed may still be part of it. [Image: Ros Asquith in The Guardian]

It seems a surge in the number of people who say they are self-employed is not (solely) due to a DWP wheeze that gets people off the unemployment statistics after all.

Instead, Flip Chart Fairy Tales warns that a lot of people are staying in self-employment rather than becoming employees again or retiring.

This suggests that either they have not been able to reach their target in terms of pensions, or there are no jobs available for people of their particular expertise or experience. The latter seems likely to Yr Obdt Srvt, who is currently trying to make Vox Political a workable concern in order to make a buck or two.

FCFT warns that “this is old-timers seeing their business shrink, rather than newbies trying to find their feet, under-charging and messing things up”.

The figures also show an increase in the number of self-employed tax credit claimants, lending credence to Vox Political‘s long-held belief that Job Centre Plus advisors have been telling jobseekers to pretend they are self-employed in order to get them off the books – let’s not write off that idea too quickly.

And a steady rise in non-VAT-paying businesses not only tells us “a lot of low-profit and low-turnover businesses are hanging on in there, or a lot more of them have become low-profit and low-turnover businesses since 2008”, it tells us that George Osborne will have a nasty surprise in January, when their tax returns come in.

If they are not paying VAT, they are not clearing the earnings threshold that would make such payments necessary. This mitigates against their earnings having increased significantly since the disasters of 2008-2012, when self-employed earnings fell by £8 billion.

So it seems our dancing Chancellor (see yesterday’s post) will find that either the music stops or the tune will change significantly…

Less ‘Gold’ by Spandau Ballet; more ‘I Don’t Need This Pressure On’.

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How can a company that has discriminated against the disabled be ‘DisabilityConfident’?

140425disabilityconfident

Here’s a mixed message:

The Conservative-led Coalition government wants us all to believe that the number of disabled people getting support to get or keep a job is rocketing.

But the businessman it is using to front its PR campaign founded a company that has been convicted of discrimination against the disabled in the recent past.

According to the government’s press release, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of Easyjet, said: “Already over 100,000 disabled entrepreneurs employ an equivalent number of people in their business start-ups.

“I encourage disabled people out there who have a germ of an idea for a business, but are unsure of how to go about it, to take advantage of the support the government has on offer to help you make your business fly.”

But in 2011, EasyJet told a boy with muscular dystrophy that he could not fly – because his electric wheelchair was too heavy for baggage handlers.

And in 2012, Paralympics presenter Sophie Morgan received similar treatment.

It seems, if you are disabled, EasyJet’s business has been to keep you on the ground.

The government reckons the number of people using its Access to Work scheme has risen by more than 10 per cent, to 31,230 – and has claimed that disabled people are moving into jobs, training or work placements at a rate of more than 100 every working day.

But the press release does not elaborate on how many of these jobs are permanent, how many are merely temporary placements, how many are self-employment start-ups that will receive funding for a short period and will fold when the grants run out, and so on.

Apparently it is all part of a campaign launched by David Cameron last year, called DisabilityConfident.

From what’s on show here, it seems disabled people have precious little reason to be confident.

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Why is the DWP being so coy about the Work Programme?

workprogramme1

It’s amazing how the Department for Work and Pensions will bend over backwards to make it seem one of its madcap schemes has been successful.

It’s also amazing how little evidence DWP press officers will provide to support the claim.

Today we’re being told that more than a quarter of a million people have escaped unemployment via the Work Programme. The fiddle? This is an aggregate figure, including all placements – not people – since the scheme was launched in June 2011.

To register as someone who has achieved a lasting job through the programme, one must stay in work for six months or more (three months in “hardest to help” cases). Participants cannot be re-referred within a period of 104 weeks (the support period), but this means people referred within the first nine months, who subsequently became unemployed, may have returned to the Work Programme.

Never mind. How many people – who are currently in work as a result of time on this scheme – have, in fact, been employed for six months or more (three months for the “hardest to help”), as this is the only relevant period of time that can be applied?

No comment.

The press release has nothing to say about this.

It seems 44,000 people were “helped” into work during the last three months, but that’s neither here nor there. The DWP does not measure its success that way, and neither should we.

But the figure by which we should be judging this work is conspicuous by its absence.

In a similar vein, we learned yesterday (March 19) that unemployment fell by 63,000 in the last three months. But the number of employees also fell by 60,000, while registered self-employment has risen by 211,000 in the same period.

Remember the scam in which DWP employees at job centres dupe people into pretending they are self-employed when they really aren’t, in order to claim tax credits rather than unemployment benefits?

If you are one of these ‘self-employed’ people, were you told that HM Revenue and Customs might investigate your circumstances and demand repayment of all tax credits paid to you, if investigators decide that you’re not doing the work?

No?

I’d have a little think about what might happen, if I were you.

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