Long term unemployment is at the highest levels seen since 1996 despite the multi-billion pound Work Progamme. Today’s Labour Market Statistics reveal that the number of people unemployed for over 12 months increased by 26,000 to reach 883,000. This is despite almost 400,000 people being sent on the Government’s flagship scheme aimed at tackling long term unemployment.
The Tories will make much of this month’s blip that shows unemployment has fallen slightly, but the reality is far from rosy. As ever it is women bearing the brunt of this Government’s policies, with the number of women out of work up 8000 to the highest levels since 1986. The Claimant Count, which records the number of people currently claiming Job Seekers Allowance, is also up by 3,600 – this means that whilst unemployment may have fallen slightly, the cost of unemployment has gone up.
It is the number of people out of work for over twelve months however which most starkly demonstrates the failure of current Welfare Policy. Once someone has been signing on for a year they are referred to the Work Programme. This means being sent to a private contractor such as fraud ridden A4e who then have the power to mandate the claimant to do pretty much whatever they choose to ‘help’ them find work.
‘Help’ can mean six months workfare. The DWP claim they don’t know how many people have been sent on workfare under the Work Programme, and astonishingly the minister in charge, Chris Grayling, has lied about it even happening.
If unemployment has fallen, yet long term unemployment is still soaring, this is a damning indictment of the Work Programme, which is set to cost up to £5 billion pounds. The Government are refusing to reveal details of how many people on the Work Programme have actually gained employment. Today’s statistics give us some idea of why that is.
Grayling will give a speech today defending the workfare scheme aimed at young people, the notorious Work Experience. Despite ongoing protests and both charities and private companies abandoning the scheme, Grayling will claim that of course young people should be forced to work for free. Continuing his creepy obesession with a female Guardian columnist, he will claim that the ‘Polly Toynbee left just don’t get it’*. This is a man who compared a suburb of Manchester to a fictional television programme, thinks hotels should be able to ban gay people, has lied repeatedly to both the public and Parliament alike about workfare and thinks the SWP are hacking his email.
We really don’t need lectures on reality from an increasingly demented Oxbridge little fuckwit who appears to be furious that the public don’t share his delusions.
Grayling is to brandish new DWP research claiming that young people who have attended Work Experience schemes are 16% more likely to come off benefits than those who don’t. That Grayling can claim this as a success is staggering.
Young people go on Work Experience, which can mean up to two months unpaid work, in the hope that they might actually get a job with the host organisation. These figures reveal the truth is they are only slightly more likely to get a job than the people who did nothing at all. Given that the DWP claim Work Experience is voluntary it is obvious that many of those who attend are more motivated to find work. It is also clear that they are less likely to have criminal records, be homeless, have mental or physical health conditions, or need literacy or numeracy support – meaning they are the young people who are the most likely to find work anyway.
That this group are only 16% more likely to find work after the Work Experience simply reveals that the whole shabby affair is a disaster. All the flustered defences Grayling made, the emergency meetings with employers and charities, the threats to clamp down on protests, was all for a meagre 16% increase in the chance of finding work – a 16% increase that very probably already existed simply because of the nature of the people who volunteered for the scheme.
Just like the Work Programme, the Work Experience scheme has had little, if any, impact on reducing unemployment. Whilst millionaires running flaky training companies are picking up billions of tax payer’s cash administering the schemes, the benefit to the unemployed appears to be virtually non-existent.
Grayling will carry on regardless, immune from any semblance of reality. So intent are this Government on proving that forced labour is good for us they are reduced to pretending a study which shows the scheme is failing miserably actually demonstrates it is a huge success. As some of us have suspected for a long time, Chris Grayling is a compulsive liar who has started to believe his own bullshit. Perhaps he hasn’t even noticed that no-one believes a fucking word he says any more.
*Disclaimer – many of the left ‘don’t get’ Polly Toynbee, but that’s another story.