The latest unemployment figures show the Tories’ claims that private employers are “picking up the slack” of vicious government job cuts are increasingly unconvincing.
While the unemployment minister Mark Hoban is trying to gloss over the slowdown the numbers show that from Aug–Oct 2012 employment increased by just 40,000 while the previous quarters increase had been 236,000 almost 6 times greater. This shows that an already weak recovery is getting weaker and points the way to another rise in unemployment next year.
Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that a reduction of 10,000 in long-term unemployment for 16-24 year-olds showed that the Work Programme was working – however an increase of 8,000 in long-term unemployment for 25-49 year olds show that for too many it was a birthday rather than a new job that took them out of the youth unemployment statistics.
More reflective of the Work Programme’s dreadful performance is the unchanged figure of 904,000 for long-term unemployment, more than half have now been without work for over 2 years. For 16-17 year-old school-leavers the numbers out of work for at least a year almost doubled to 17,000.
The paper-thin rhetoric of the government can no longer hide the fact that the employment figures have been temporarily boosted by the Olympics and flattered by employers switching to part-time labour to undercut wages and conditions. The effect of this is wearing off just as the economy looks primed to enter George Osborne’s austerity induced triple-dip recession. The likely outcome of this will be growing unemployment in 2013, with ever greater numbers entering the ranks of the long-term unemployed.
It is good news that the Labour party has said it will fight Osborne’s attempts to make the poorest pay for the crisis with his ‘welfare uprating bill’ in the new year. While the Tories pretend their poverty bill is targeted at ‘skivers’ rather than ‘strivers’ some 60% of those it will hit are actually in low-paid work and reliant on tax-credits.
Despite the reticence of some Labour MPs to include unemployed people in those they will defend from the bill Ed Miliband must not be drawn into the Tory game of ‘the undeserving poor’.Those of us who are trapped in unemployment by the failed policies of this Tory government do not deserve to face cuts to poverty level benefits, especially when they are proposed by an Eton millionaire whose handouts to his rich pals and cushy tax arrangements for corporate giants like Starbucks have left us high and dry.