The government has claimed that UK unemployment has fallen by 28,000, and technically they’re right – but it is important to look deeper before you take these numbers as being completely accurate.
We need to examine how this might have been achieved. It is entirely possible that the figures may be designed to mislead.
There are several ways in which the UK unemployment statistics could be made lower than they actually are.
Firstly, we already know that many thousands of people are being wrongly sanctioned and stripped of vital social security, by the Department for work and Pensions. This includes disabled and ill people who have already suffered enough under this government.
When stripped of vital support, they are often left to fend for themselves, and can also be removed from the Unemployment statistics. Out of sight, out of mind...
To add to this, last week MP’s voted to force through further cuts to Employment Support Allowance, which would strip some of the most ill and disabled people of a further thirty pounds a week, thus increasing the hardship, anxiety and stress we are already under as a result of government Welfare ‘Reform’ policies, - but back to the latest fall in unemployment.
As of this week (via stats released by the Institute of Employment Rights on 9th March, 2016), we know that the number of people working under zero-hours contracts has now risen above 800,000.
People working under this contract have no idea when (or indeed IF) they will get a regular income – but they are counted as employed, and thus can be removed from the unemployment statistics.
Next, ‘Underemployment’: Underemployment is defined as:
‘an employment situation that is insufficient in some important way for the worker, relative to a standard’.
Whilst it is claimed that the UK has one of the lowest underemployment statistics in Europe, the link below (from the Centre for Policy Studies) states that this is not the case.
Many people are taking multiple low paid or part time jobs (including ones that they are often overqualified for) because it is preferable to unemployment – and actually this might be what government wants people to do. They can keep wages low, while removing ‘underemployed’ people from the Unemployment figures.
It is possible too, that the stigma and divisive (not to mention damaging) ‘scrounger rhetoric’ that exists around those who claim social security makes people feel pressured into taking these jobs. Not to mention the increasing and frightening fear of sanctions –including for those who are ill or disabled, and really not able to work!
Also, we need to consider ‘Workfare’.
The ‘Workfare’ programme is defined as:
‘Government policies whereby individuals must undertake work in return for their benefit payments or risk losing them’.
‘Workfare’ is mandatory and even though it is stated the a person gets placed on it after six months unemployment, during recent times (under Universal Credit rules) it has been found that people are placed on it after as little as three months. The required hours often leave little time for job searching
Also, we know that disabled and ill people have been put on Workfare, even though they are not fit to do it. Either that or face sanctions. Once a person is on workfare (or similar scheme) they are also removed from Unemployment statistics.
To sum up, the employment, (or rather unemployment) situation in the UK is far more complicated than it appears at face value.
Political spin and various agendas are not always what they seem, and I feel it is important to keep an open mind...
Link to Equitable Full Employment PDF:
Link to ‘Boycott Workfare’ website (for further information):