In January 2011 just 4,200 people had been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) for over 5 years, representing 0.3% of the total number of unemployed claimants and costing around £14 million a year. Astonishingly Britain’s biggest benefit scrounger, the Queen, costs over £38 million a year, almost three times the amount spent on long term claimants.
The total annual cost for long term claimants per person is staggeringly low, at just 28 pence – less than a penny a week. Whilst every penny does indeed count at the moment, is this really worth the endless hours spent deriding and denouncing benefit scroungers? You must be a right tight-arsed bastard if you think so.
Cunning Daily Mail readers will be quick to point out that this figure does not include Housing Benefit, the benefit which is used to subsidise the buy to let industry. But even if every claimant were claiming Housing Benefit, and not all are, they still wouldn’t cost as much as the Queen. And the Queen lives rent free in a fucking palace which occupies a huge chunk of some of the most valuable real estate in the world. And she’s got a castle and a train*.
Even those unemployed for over two years do not particularly cost tax payers much money. The latest figures reveal that 117,000 people have been claiming Jobseekers Allowance for over two years. This costs around £400 million a year, or £8 each. Add Housing Benefit to the mix and the long term unemployed probably cost everyone about a quid a month.
Clearly not everyone who has been unemployed over two years is a scrounger, but it’s probably fair to say that all scrounger have been claiming for over two years – after all if you can’t last two years on Jobseeker’s Allowance than your approach to being feckless and lazy is somewhat, well a bit feckless.
Even if half that figure are actively avoiding work then benefit scroungers cost less per month than a copy of the Daily Mail. The truth is that long term unemployed people represent a varied group of people, many of whom have lives that few would envy.
A surprising number of street homeless people are long term claimants of JSA. Many more long term unemployed people have mental health conditions. A few are indeed addicted to alcohol or drugs,others will have criminal records. By and large these people are not a group that employers are rushing to hire.
By far the largest group of long term unemployed people however are those living in areas of high unemployment where there simply aren’t any jobs. Visit any centre for unemployed people and you will find scores of people who are looking hard for a job, any job, but they just aren’t there.
As people become older and out of work for longer the difficulty becomes even more pronounced. Despite this government handing hundreds of millions to private welfare to work companies, there is barely any quality training available to long term unemployed people. Private sector parasites running the Work Programme hoover up the cash and fob people off with pointless motivation workshops or mock interviews. Try asking if you can train to be a plumber or gas fitter and they will barely contain their laughter as they hand you a three month old newspaper.
Jobseeker’s Allowance is just £70 a week. Most people only claim for short periods in between jobs. Some find it harder to find work and are on the benefit longer than others. Many people who are vulnerable, homeless, unwell, or whose lives have collapsed around them depend on JSA to survive.
All are human beings. All are someone’s son or daughter, quite possibly someone’s mother or father or even just someone’s friend. Many are unofficial carers or volunteers, some aspiring musicians or artists, some involved in local politics. Everybody has value and at a quid a month then the benefits system, which provides this protection for the long term unemployed, is good value for everybody.
*Campaign group Republic estimates that the true cost of the Queen, when security and other expenses are taken into account, is £200 million a year.