On the unemployment figures, cognitive dissonance and spam
One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
David Cameron was asked about the new increase in the employment figures today at Prime Minister’s Questions. Here are some ‘facts’.
- Today’s announced rise takes UK unemployment to 8.4% (the highest since 1996).
- The UK has the second fastest rising rate of unemployment in Europe. The fastest is Greece.
- The UK Employment Minister has made no commitment to getting the percentage down (the message there is that it’s not going to, and anyway it’s a price we are prepared to pay to keep shrinking the state).
- Ed Miliband says youth unemployment is up an incredible 102% in the last year alone – the official figures are that unemployment for 16-24 year olds runs at 22.3%
- Yet the government say the number of people in employment has increased – they say that’s the reality – check here for their ‘reality’.
- That’s partly because more women and students are in work. And that means part-time jobs. Yes folks if you can support yourself, and your family on a part-time wage, you’ve no worries.
In Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron insists that youth unemployment is going down. He also said that the government takes full responsibility for unemployment and is doing it all it can to tackle it. He also says that this government’s back to work programme is better value for money than the last government’s was. Evidenced by what, I ask myself? It is at about this point in reading the PMQ transcript that I want to just shout, ‘Spamhead, Spamhead, Spamhead’ at him.
Do you know what the government have done to tackle unemployment? I can’t lay it all out right here because it would make the post too long, but let’s take it gently and start with the square window (when my blood pressure returns to normal we can look through the circle and the arch windows too…).
They axed the last government’s funding streams to support people into employment: The New Deal, The Flexible New Deal and Pathways to Work and replaced them with The Work Programme. This funding is administered for the government by private companies like Pertemps and Reed *shudders*. I will tell you why I shudder. Those companies are monolithic 1980s throwbacks of recruitment agencies that operate for profit and not for the benefit of jobseekers. Every jobseeker comes with £££ on their head.
I’m not against profit, and I’m not against value for public money, but I am against redistribution of our resources amongst companies with little experience of getting the long-term unemployed back to work, whilst simultaneously cutting out those providers that had the experience and expertise of doing exactly that. The facts are that those big companies administering the funding are casting about for the providers that were doing the work in the first place, although some will have gone to the wall already and some are struggling to survive because the funding comes with impossible strings attached.
Like, the quick turnaround some of the funding comes with. What chance do you have of getting someone with skills and experience gaps, perhaps with mental health barriers into a job in less than six months? This is the timescale for some real cases I have come across. And if you do manage that feat, what are the chances of every individual sustaining that new work for 6 months, which is when the 20% performance-related funding kicks in?
What is happening is that the organisations doing this work are, for issues of survival, prioritising those clients who are nearer ‘job-readiness’ than not. And those people won’t be the very long-term unemployed with health issues, or indeed the very young with few qualifications and little, to no, work experience.
There is a flourishing scrap heap in this country and our government is prepared to turn a blind eye to it in private, whilst shooting their mouths off in a froth of PR spin on the other sides of their faces, in public.
Reality check required people: that’s you, me, everybody! Otherwise we are lumbered with the current brass-neckery of those who tell us that whilst we see unemployment going up, in their distorted reality, all is not quite as it seems.
Confused? I am. This government should come with a cognitive dissonance warning stamped on their collective spamhead. And they should be forced to agree the interpretation of the stats with the opposition before wasting a proportion of Prime Ministers Questions on a pantomime disagreement over figures, wasting everyone’s time & money.