The number of people unemployed for over 12 months rose to 887,000 in the three months to March 2012, up 27,000 from the three months to December 2011. The number of people out of work over two years also rose by 5,000.
People who have been claiming benefit for 12 months are automatically referred onto the Work Programme, the Government’s flagship scheme aimed at reducing long term unemployment. Despite unemployment falling slightly overall for the second month running, long term unemployment is still rocketing.
This more than demonstrates that the Work Programme is unfit for purpose. If Work Programme providers can’t bring down long term unemployment, even when all other measures of unemployment are falling, then this only highlights the desperate failure of current strategy.
With charities queuing up to pull out of the £5 billion Government scheme, it is clear that the Work Programme is little more than a huge give away of tax payers money to private sector training companies who are clearly not achieving the glorious results promised by Chris Grayling and Iain Duncan Smith.
Work Programme uses the ‘black box’ approach, which is DWP slang that means Work Programme providers can do whatever they want, backed up with the threat of benefit sanctions, in an attempt to find people work. Astonishingly this could include employing people within their own organisations, subsidised by ‘ Job Outcome’ cash funded by the tax payer. So weighted is the scheme in favour of providers cooking the books that they can claim for jobs people got under their own steam before they have even started on the Work Programme.
Despite all this long term unemployment continues to soar. This hasn’t stopped the Government paying out over £200 million in ‘attachment fees’ to private sector parasites running the scheme. This badly thought out farce is proving to be the biggest benefit fraud in the UK’s history and yet still Chris Grayling and Iain Duncan Smith pretend that all is wonderful on the Work Programme.
Due to the recent workfare protests, the only activity which cannot be forced upon claimants on the Work Programme is unpaid work. This was a key part of the strategy of many of the Work Programme contractors and formed the basis of their initial bids for the contract. With the teeth removed from Work Programme, private sector profiteers have the perfect excuse for their disastrous performance and can lay the blame entirely at the feet of the Government and Chris Grayling in particular. The incompetence is staggering.
Today’s unemployment figures mask the true state of the crisis facing UK workers. The number of people in full time work fell by 13,000, to the lowest figure since records began. The fall in unemployment was due to the number of people gaining part time work, often earning little more than they would on the dole and in many cases still claiming Housing Benefit and other in-work benefits.
On top of this a record number of people are now recorded as self-employed. This may reflect claimants being bullied off benefits and onto Working Tax Credit in an effort to massage unemployment figures. Others may have been threatened with benefit sanctions if they don’t take flaky non-jobs, such as part time commission based telesales jobs which pay peanuts and are almost always short term. The slight number in the fall of people claiming benefits could reflect the increased use of benefit sanctions, forcing ever more people into dire poverty.
There is little good news in today’s figures no matter which way the Government spins it. It is barely possible to exist on a full time minimum wage salary. A rise in part time workers at the expense of full time staff only shows more people are being driven into in-work poverty and is no sign of an improving economy.