Monday, 28 November 2011

Not Working

Given the precarious state of the global economy, every family has to be concerned about their own economic prospects and their job and earnings’ security. Families with children leaving school, college or university are especially concerned about the prospects for their children.

Youth unemployment has never been higher. It now stands at 1,016,000 (1.02 million) in the three months to September. This is the highest level since comparable records began in 1992. Since January, there has been an 83% rise in young people on the dole for six months or more.

What we do know is that the government scrapped Labour’s Future Jobs Fund which created over 100,000 jobs for young people, and now youth unemployment has shot up by 77% this year alone. Since January, when the Future Jobs Fund ended, the percentage of people moving off benefits and into work has fallen by a fifth.

Further, the latest statistics showed unemployment up by a huge 129,000 to the worst figure since 1994 and a sharp decline in the number of people leaving welfare and going into work. There are now fewer people moving from benefits into work than at any time since 1998. The fall coincides with the government’s decision last year to cancel Labour’s back to work programmes – and replace them with the Work Programme.

And now – and only after rigorous questioning - the Government has been forced to admit that it can only produce figures for one of its 11 schemes aimed at getting people back into jobs, and that is a programme funded by the European Social Fund. The government could not provide a single piece of evidence to show that its other much-publicised schemes were working.

To rub salt into the wounds, the latest government initiative is to be funded by cutting working tax credits. So, hard-working families on low to middle incomes are to be hit hard in their pockets to pay the additional costs of keeping their children unemployed. It doesn’t sit easily with this weekend’s revelations that bankers’ bonuses are up again and that the wealthiest in the UK are avoiding £1 billion each year in stamp duty on house purchases, with the government saying they have no plans to close the loopholes.

It is clear that the government’s welfare to work schemes are simply failing to cope with the scale of the jobs crisis. We need a change of direction, based on a plan for economic and jobs’ growth.