Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’

Get ready for the winter of discontent, 2020/21

02/07/2020, 10:30:20 PM

by Jonathan Todd

We have reached the mid-point of the longest year. Football’s back, pubs and shops are open, the sun shines. The government are eager for consumers to spend the economy back to health. But our winter of discontent looms.

Only the rich and/or complacent are secure in their incomes. Fear of Covid-19 remains – while not always deadly, especially among the young, it can induce long-term health complications. It is hard to be confident that all children, many out of school since March, will be in class in September.

“Open unemployment,” warns Professor Paul Gregg, “is likely to rise from 4 to 14% without further policy intervention.” Over 4 million on the dole, before the possible economic tsunami of no-deal Brexit.

“Currently the government’s drive to open up as quickly as possible bears a risk of another increase in infections,” fears Professor Devi Sridhar, “similar to what is being experienced in several US states such as Florida, Arizona and Texas, and in Iran.”

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, recently said: “The NEU is of course in favour of all children being back in school, but even with a one-metre rule that will need more teachers and more spaces.” It remains to be seen if the plans announced by Gavin Williamson will deliver upon this.

Ignore these people if you have had enough of experts. The rest of us might conclude:

We need more testing and tracing, with much better data sharing and collaboration with local authorities, to contain the virus. We need more physical and human resources to reopen schools. Without decent public health and education, attempts to build, build, build rest on the shakiest foundations.


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The work programme: improving, but for who?

27/06/2013, 04:28:28 PM

by Bill Davies

The latest figures from the work programme show it is doing, on aggregate, better than it was. Now the programme has been running for 22 months, we are in a better position to consider whether it is achieving its main objective, to reduce unemployment and increase employment amongst all eligible claimant groups.

It is doing better than last time, particularly when you look at newer cohorts to the programme, but little better than the programme it replaced. At this stage of the flexible new deal, 13 week job outcomes as a percentage of eligible starts were 18%, and 26 week outcomes were 12%. The coalition’s work programme, introduced to dismantle the ‘fundamentally flawed’ Flexible New Deal, is at this stage achieving outcomes of 13%. Better than last time, but not brilliant. The statistical release of the department for work & pensions shows that 22 out of the 40 contracts have not met their targets for moving the largest group of job seekers allowance claimants (over 25 year olds) off benefits and into work. The target for this group was 27.5% of starters to move into work, but at this stage, the target has been narrowly missed, at 27.3%.

The most staggering figure is that employment & support allowance, the group for people moving from incapacity benefits gradually back into the labour market had a target of 16.5% of starts to job outcomes, but the actual outcome rate was 5.3%, only a third of the target.

Is the work programme assisting those regions that have the most difficult labour markets? On the basis of current performance, it is still largely reflecting them.


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We do not need to divide the country to get through difficult times

15/04/2013, 06:49:16 PM

by Helen Godwin Teige

Ed Miliband came to Bristol on Saturday, so I, my husband. our two toddlers and my sister went along to see Ed and listen to what he had to say. He did an ‘on the stump’ speech and answered questions from members and non-members who had gathered in the busy St Nicholas Market in Bristol.

I am pretty sure Ed won some votes for both himself and the Labour party on Saturday. He took questions on everything from mental health, vocational qualifications, and the bedroom tax to legalisation of drugs and Trident. Bristolians are an understated bunch but they know what they are interested in and we felt Ed answered each question well; he listened, gave real and honest answers and didn’t sound as policy light as the press are desperate for him to be.

He was here on the back of the local elections but there were key things that he mentioned that I think Labour need to drill down into and build deeper policies

1. Mental Health

The stigma of mental health needs to end. The increase in dementia cases means this is on the agenda in a big way but mental health affects all ages and  is a vast subject requiring more research, treatment and occupational health. We need to take the lead in accepting people with mental health problems and ensuring their place in society is understood and valued.


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We are witnessing the march of the zombie jobs

04/02/2013, 03:11:56 PM

by Dan McCurry

We now have an explanation for why unemployment hasn’t soared in the worst recession since the first World War.

It seems that the banks are keeping failing companies afloat rather than calling in their loans, for fear of damaging their capital base and failing to comply with regulations. It is this priority of the regulators that has had the perverse effect of bunging up the unemployment market and creating a million zombie jobs.

Before you think this is a good thing, recognise that productivity is supposed to improve during a recession, instead it has slumped, causing long term damage. Meanwhile the unemployment has only been delayed. Sooner or later the banks will be forced to call in their loans. At that point, the zombie companies fold, and the workers become unemployed.

When I was working for a retail chain called Wilding Office Machines in the early ‘90s recession, the board decided to start, and then lose, a price war with Dixons. A man called Charles Wigador had built a fleet of salesmen selling mobile phones to businesses. Phones were changing from being bricks to pocket sized devices that consumers could buy, but there were no retail shops to supply them. When we were about to go bust Charles bought us out, all 120 shops, staff and head office, for a mere £100k.

For us, overnight the recession ended and we were on the cutting edge of a new business, and Britain was at the cutting edge of mobile phones. Within a couple of years, Charles sold out to a small company called Vodafone for £17 million.

If George Osborne was in charge at the time, Wildings would have been kept alive as a zombie company and Vodafone would not today exist as the largest phone company in the world. George Osborne promised the “march of the makers”, but the British economy today can best be described as the march of the zombies.


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Workfare: fair work with a clear benefit

01/03/2012, 08:00:37 AM

by Peter Watt

Once again Labour has discovered its self-destructive sense of self-righteousness. It seems that sometimes we really can’t help ourselves. This time the issue is workfare where some in the party seem determined to reinforce the image of Labour as the party of the workshy.

But let’s get real. We need to start being honest and stop sending mixed messages. We have said that we are in favour of supporting people into work and of investing in supporting the long-term unemployed. We have said that we support reforming the welfare system so that welfare is not a lifestyle choice. And we have said that we must support hard working families who are struggling as costs go up. But then we go and spoil it by seeming to take pleasure in attacking companies who agree to take on the unemployed as part of a package of back to work support.

But “hang on”, I hear you say. Of course we oppose workfare. It makes people work for nothing. It compels people to work against their will. It allows bloated profit makers to exploit poor people as they don’t have to pay them for their work. And it forces people who would otherwise have to be paid out of a job. Quite frankly we might as well put the unemployed in orange boiler suits, spray “soap-dodger” on their back and make them dig ditches.

Except of course it isn’t true. (more…)

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Whip’s Notebook

22/02/2012, 07:00:01 AM

by Jon Ashworth

So we’re all back after our constituency week and I’m spending my time as a dutiful whip touring the tearoom, smoking room and the various other nooks and crannies hidden away in the palace of Westminster to catch up with fellow members of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

The first day back after recess always has that back to school feel and we’re all eager to swop stories of what we got up to. Talking to colleagues, I’m struck by the extent to which unemployment is affecting all our constituencies in similar ways.

Last week we learnt that unemployment, youth unemployment, over 50s unemployment all rose again across Leicester South. I’m not surprised. In recent months, I’ve found more and more people turning up at my advice surgery desperate for any guidance I can offer to help them find work. Almost every Labour MP I’ve spoken to this week tells a similar story.

And yet we have a government that is completely failing to show any grip and put in a place any strategy to deal with the unemployment crisis so many areas of the country now face. I’m well aware it’s so clichéd to remind Labour Uncut readers that Norman Lamont twenty years ago famously said “unemployment is a price worth paying” but I’ve become convinced that the government’s complete lack of action in tackling unemployment suggests that David Cameron probably harbours that attitude even he is not so gauche as to say it in the way his former boss did.

Take for example when I asked Cameron at PMQs when he had last met a young unemployed person, I was amazed he couldn’t answer. What’s more neither he nor George Osborne could tell me when they last visited a jobcentre plus office. Instead of organizing Downing Street summits on the wretched and disastrous health bill, where are the Downing Street summits on youth unemployment? Where are the meetings out in unemployment hotspots to find out what needs to be done?


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Cameron’s PMQs boasts unravel again

20/01/2012, 08:03:46 AM

by Atul Hatwal

In what is becoming a regular fixture at prime minister’s questions, another one of David Cameron’s answers has unravelled as the facts have come to light.

Scrabbling around for a response to Ed Miliband’s attack on the catastrophic 8% rise in unemployment over the past year to 2.7 million, the prime minister wheeled out his government’s commitment to training, highlighting the small 1% fall in long term unemployment in the last quarter from 867,000 to 857,000.  He stated,

“Any increase in unemployment is disappointing… That is why we are taking so much action to try and help people to get back into work… It is…noteworthy that there is a small decrease in long-term unemployment. I hope that shows that schemes such as the work programme that the government are introducing are beginning to have an effect”.

But Uncut can reveal that despite the prime minister’s boasts of action to boost training, his administration has actually cut the number of places available by 26%, from 141,000 to 96,000 over the past year.


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PR summits can’t mask a return to 1980s scale unemployment

16/11/2011, 10:54:07 AM

by Michael Dugher

As expected, figures released today show that unemployment has risen again. It now stands at over 2.6 million – up 129,000 on the quarter and a 17 year high. Aware that more bad figures were on the way, David Cameron has arranged a “business breakfast” to “discuss youth unemployment” at Downing Street. And over at the department for business, innovation and skills, Vince Cable is to hold an “apprenticeship summit” for the TV cameras. But with the economy continuing to flat-line, for the now over 1 million young people out of work, gimmicky breakfasts and PR summits for the media are not enough.

Rising unemployment is an inevitable consequence of the lack of growth in the economy. And as yesterday’s OECD report highlighted, the UK slowdown happened well before the latest crisis in the Euro zone. Today’s jobless numbers mean that more than ever we need a real plan for jobs and growth.

As the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, has set out, there are five clear steps the government can take immediately. First, a £2 billion tax on bank bonuses would fund 100,000 jobs for young people. Second, bringing forward long-term investment projects would help get people back to work and strengthen our economy. Third, reversing January’s damaging VAT rise would help high streets as well as struggling families. Fourth, a one year cut in VAT to 5% on home improvements would help homeowners and small businesses. And finally, a one year national insurance tax break, for every small firm which takes on extra workers, would help small businesses grow and create jobs. (more…)

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Cameron is far more interested in Fox’s job than your job

17/10/2011, 11:09:04 AM

by Michael Dugher

According to yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, one Downing Street aide described the events of last week as “very weird”. Certainly the fall-out from Liam Fox’s resignation will continue to dominate events at Westminster this week, not least with the report of the inquiry into Dr Fox by the cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell, expected tomorrow.

Andrew Rawnsley correctly observed in his column that “in the grand scheme of things, most resignations from the cabinet don’t have a discernibly lasting impact. They only do so if the voters and media draw from them larger conclusions about the government”.  But the events of the last week were not just weird, but telling. And we have learnt a lot about both the character and conduct of David Cameron’s out of touch government.
Ed Miliband spent last week out and about. He visited businesses in Worcester, Southend and London, talking to apprentices and company directors about the big challenges facing our economy. Together with Ed Balls, he has launched a five point plan for jobs and growth which would help get Britain’s economy moving again.  In Parliament and outside, Labour has been challenging the Tory led-government to do more to help businesses and help get people back into work, so that we can reduce government borrowing and help build a better economy for the future. (more…)

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2,570,000: it’s not just a number

13/10/2011, 09:27:34 AM

by Peter Watt

The trouble with statistics about people is that they dehumanise. The story of one human tragedy can move people by bringing to life the impact. But repeat that tragedy over and over and eventually it ceases to shock. Just think about how often in war it is the image or story of one tragic fatality that moves people, while statistics of the thousands who die passes us by.

I was thinking about this when I heard this week’s truly terrible unemployment figures. There are currently 2,570,000 people unemployed in the UK. This includes 991,000 16 – 24 year olds. This represents over 20% of young people who currently do not have a job.

The problem is that this figure has been creeping up slowly. However big it is, however shocking right now, it will inevitably numb the senses to the underlying tragedies that are unfolding across the country. It may have already done so. I remember when unemployment was creeping up to record highs in the 1980’s and the nightly news carried stories of the latest series of job losses around the country. Maps of the UK were used to illustrate the numbers of those set to join the lengthening dole queue. At first it was shocking, but it soon became background music. We just became immune to the scale of the numbers. (more…)

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