Despite Iain Duncan Smith’s multi-billion pound Work Programme and extensive DWP book cooking, today’s labour market figures reveal that long term unemployment is soaring.
Approaching three quarters of a billion pounds has already been handed out to Work Programme contractors – like fraud ridden A4e or the inept G4S – with the aim of finding jobs for those out of work over 12 months. Despite this vast sum, long term unemployment has steadily risen even whilst unemployment overall has allegedly been falling.
The number of people out of work for 12 months rose by 22,000 in the three months to July reaching 904,000, whilst the number out of work over two years increased by 9000 to 443,000.
Two measures are used to calculate unemployment. The Labour Force Survey is a national household survey recording employment details whilst the Claimant Count is the number of people who are currently claiming the unemployment benefit Job Seekers Allowance. Recent revelations have shown that many people currently on workfare schemes are not included in the Labour Force Survey unemployment figures, whilst those who have had benefits sanctioned are not included in the Claimant Count.
The clueless DWP claim they don’t know how many people are currently on workfare, but it is known that over half a million Job Seekers Allowance claims have been sanctioned in the last year. Therefore any reported drop in the Claimant Count, which fell by 15,000 according to today’s figures, must take this into account.
The Government have claimed that soaring long term unemployment is down to a change in the way figures are recorded. Previously those who had attended welfare to work schemes were taken out of the unemployment figures and started life as new claimants once the scheme had ended. According to the Office for National Statistics, Work Programme participants are ‘more likely’ to stay in the Job Seekers Allowance figures throughout the Work Programme, meaning less people are recorded as new claimants when in reality they are anything but.
It is of course true that Labour were cooking the books. The phrase ‘more likely’ suggests the Tories are as well, just perhaps not by as much. What they don’t say is that the hundreds of thousands of people who have had Job Seekers Allowance stopped due to benefit sanctions are counted as newly unemployed once the benefit restarts – a fact recently confirmed to me by the Office for National Statistics.
So the Tories are cooking the books as well, just in a different way to the last government.
And even if they weren’t, and they are, long term unemployment is still soaring. The headline figure, which reveals that 21,000 more people have now been unemployed for over 12 months, relates to the Labour Force Survey figures, not the Claimant Count. In fact the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance for over 12 months only rose by about 5000 in the same period.
There have been attempts to portray Iain Duncan Smith as a friend of the poor with claims that he is bravely holding out against George Osborne’s brutal cost cutting agenda. But IDS doesn’t want more money for benefit claimants, the families who’ve had benefits sanctioned queuing up outside foodbanks are testament to that. Iain Duncan Smith simply wants even more money to pursue out of touch and ill thought out schemes like the Work Programme and Universal Credit.
£5 billion is set to be doled out to private companies running the Work Programme, whilst billions more is to be squandered on Universal Credit. Neither of these initiatives will help those with least, in fact quite the opposite. All the poorest will get is forced labour on the Work Programme and benefit sanctions under the endlessly complex new rules to be introduced with Universal Credit.
IDS is pissing away billions on his increasingly hare-brained schemes, which will do little more than plunge millions into poverty. Nothing the clueless Secretary of State has claimed about his daft ideas has even come close to manifesting in reality, yet still more and more money is pumped his way.
Rarely has a government department gambled so much on a single politician’s delusions. And even when those gambles clearly aren’t paying off, no-one in either the DWP or the Cabinet is brave enough to call an end to the shambles. There will surely come a time when Iain Duncan Smith’s political careers lies in ruins due to his recklessness. The tragedy is that he intends to drag what remains of the welfare state and the millions of people who depend on it into the shit with him.