According to the latest statistics there are currently 1.84 million unemployed people. There are also 1.3 million people working part time because they cannot find a full time job. Nearly half a million people who are officially employed work less than six hours a week. Over 100,000 so-called employed people are actually on unpaid workfare.
But even this only tells half the truth about the number of under and unemployed people in the UK. There are a staggering 2.25 million people who are ‘economically inactive’ and want a job but who are not included in the unemployment figures. That means the true number of unemployed people, if unemployed is defined as not having a job and wanting one – which is how it should be fucking defined – is over four million.
The reason you never hear of the missing 2.25 million is because of an international definition of what unemployed means which has been agreed by statisticians to allow comparisons of employment rates between different countries. As such unemployed, as far as the official figures are concerned, means someone who is currently out of work, available to start work immediately and who has looked for a job in the last four weeks. Clearly this does not include everyone who is really unemployed. It doesn’t even include half of them.
The 2.25 million hidden unemployed include those who have simply stopped looking for a job in despair (40,000 people) along with those looking after the family home but who would rather be in work, people forced into early retirement against their will and sick and disabled people who want jobs.
There are currently just 743,000 vacancies, many of them part time or temporary. If everybody who was unemployed found work tomorrow there would still be around 3.5 million people out of work who wanted a job. There are not enough jobs for everybody. Everybody knows this really, even Iain Duncan Smith’s think tank who said last year that “reducing unemployment to zero is neither feasible nor desirable”.
Unemployment is not caused by unemployed people but a lack of jobs. So trying to ‘fix’ unemployed people with endless workfare, assessments and benefit sanctions will do nothing to fix unemployment. Yet every major political party pretends to think it will. The reason for this is that the public used to blame the government, or even capitalism, for unemployment. Politicians however would rather they blame disabled people or lone parents. Better that than governments having to admit to their own own ineptness – or even worse acknowledge that the magical free market will not create a job for everyone.
The latest attempts to cure people of unemployment would be almost laughable if the impact on people’s lives were not so tragic. Jobcentres are now being run like cults, with managers spouting mumbo jumbo motivational garbage like Sandra Lambert‘s now deleted twitter feed calling on staff to ‘pink up the pace’ and handing out sheriff stars to Jobcentres which meet benefit sanction targets. Half-arsed online Cognitive Behavor Therapies are on the way, to cure unemployed people’s mental health problems. Pull yourself together and get a job is the message from the DWP for those who are unable to work due to depression or other mental health conditions. Forced treatment for some groups has been threatened should the Tories win the election.
That this flies in the face of what is considered good practice amongst psychologists no longer seems to matter. Unemployed people are now fair game for almost any kind of treatment as long as it’s designed to punish and scapegoat. Claimants have at best been abandoned and at worst openly attacked even by charities and institutions which claim to support those with a mental health condition.
Towards the end of last year the president elect of the British Psychological Society (BPS), Jamie Hacker Hughes promised the body would carry out an enquiry into the use of pseudo-psychology, benefit sanctions and workfare. Yet nothing has happened so far. As part of the week of action against workfare and sanctions contact them and demand they speak out against the current regime which has driven some claimants to suicide. Claimants do not have time to wait for them to get their act together, people are being pushed into desperate poverty and sometimes even their deaths now. To not speak up is to be complicit in the actions of this Government and hands a licence to whoever wins next week’s election to carry on in the same way.
There are not enough jobs. Unemployment is not caused by unemployed people. The mistreatment of unemployed, sick and disabled people must stop. That is what anyone with a conscience must now be saying, as loudly as fucking possible.
The Labour Market Statistics are published monthly and the latest release on which these figures are based can be found at: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/april-2015/statistical-bulletin.html
For more contact details and information about the rise of pseudo-science being used to bully unemployed people visit Boycott Workfare’s website.
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