According to the Labour Market Statistics, the number of people on “government supported training and employment programmes classified as being in employment” rose by 8,000 to reach 168,000.
These all are people on some form of workfare. It does not include people on other Jobcentre training schemes such as the Work Programme, unless they have been sent to work without pay.
This is the highest number of people in unpaid work since 1998, when Tony Blair squandered billions on the New Deal, a mass workfare scheme for the young that had barely any impact on whether people found a job. Unlike the current workfare placements however, those on the New Deal could work towards an NVQ and were also paid a training allowance or a subsidised wage*. On today’s workfare schemes participants are lucky if they get travel expenses and in most cases the training given is non-existent.
Prior to Blair’s New Deal there was no such thing as mandatory workfare, bar a small experiment in the dying days of John Major’s Government. Now almost all unpaid work can be considered mandatory such is the toxic regime in Jobcentres where claimants can have benefits removed seemingly on a whim by advisors.
Yesterday’s employment figures also showed another leap in the number of people who are self-employed and who now represent almost a sixth of the workforce. It is not clear how many of this group are actually making any money. Neither is it clear how many people are on zero-hour contracts masking the true nature of unemployment in the UK.
One thing is sure, which is that the number of people who are poor remains at record levels. Despite claims of a million new jobs since this Government weren’t elected, the number of people claiming Housing Benefits are at record levels. The only criteria for claiming Housing Benefit is income and assets – meaning it is a good measure of how many people are poor, even if they have a job. The latest figures show that in May 2013 the number of Housing Benefits claimants stood at 5,072,264 which is just below February’s all time high of 5,078,523. This represents a jump of around 300,000 people since May 2010.
So whilst more people might be working, there are still more poor people than ever before. As wages stagnate and the use of workfare escalates, people as a whole are doing more work for less money. To the braying toffs in charge this represents a huge success.
To join the fightback against forced unpaid work visit: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/
*This is not a defence of the New Deal. The New Deal was shit.
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