The number of people in “government supported training and employment programmes” – climbed by 11,000 to reach 175,000 – the highest figure since workfare began.
This could be due to an increase in unpaid work for young people with the launch of Traineeships in August. These schemes involve a period of up to five months working without a wage and are designed to ‘prepare’ people for taking up Apprenticeships, often at below the minimum wage. Predictably several major companies, including Boots and Kwik-fit, have been only to happy to take up this tax payer funded offer of free workers.
Young people cannot currently be forced to start on a Traineeships which are officially voluntary (UPDATE: at least the work experience element is). Such is the toxic regime at Jobcentres however, where claims can be sanctioned for ever more ludicrous reasons, it is likely many young unemployed people feel they have no choice but to work unpaid.
And even if this were not the case, Traineeships still represent a wealth grab by grasping employers. Some of the UK’s richest companies are exploiting young people’s very real fear of unemployment to convince them that they should work for nothing in jobs which would once have come with a wage.
Unpaid workers on these schemes are counted as employed, a handy distortion of the figures for a Government that claims they are bringing down unemployment. With the numbers in part-time work, precarious self-employment or workfare all at record levels, and wages falling far behind inflation, the true picture of the labour market is far from good news. Recent Housing Benefit statistics* show that the number claiming help with housing costs remains at record levels. Over 5 million people are on this benefit and for the first time, in July 2013, the number of working Housing Benefit claimants topped one million.
Other statistics published this week show that 522,000 people so far face the threat of homelessness due to the Bedroom Tax. Every measure of homelessness is already rising. The number of people dependent on foodbanks is soaring. If this is a recovery then what the fuck does a recession look like?
*The Housing Benefits statistics are now being released via the near incomprehensible DWP Stat-Xplore website.
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