The North East has retained its position as the worst region for jobs in the latest batch unemployment figures – despite showing a reduction in the numbers of those seeking work.
Statistics released on Wednesday revealed a regional unemployment rate of 9.1% with 118,000 people looking for work in the region.
The figures are for the three months ending in October and show a fall of 1% compared to the same period last year.
It follows previous figures which showed a rise for three successive quarters.
The figures show unemployment down across the country but the North East is still top of the table.
However, bosses at organisations welcomed the improvement in figures.
Neil Carberry, director for employment and skill at the Confederation of British Industry, said:
“As we come to the end of the year, it’s good news that unemployment continues to fall, as jobs are being created. It’s good to see even more people working full-time.
“We are starting to see the first signs of real pay growth picking up, which will have given households an encouraging boost in the run up to Christmas.”
> Yes, but since “full-time” work equals 16 hours a week, there are a lot of jobs that no-one can afford to take if they have no other source of income.
Unions accepted the rate in the region was down but said zero hour contracts disguised the impact.
Ruth Berkley, of Unison’s North East office, said:
“While our unemployment figure in the region has come down to 9.1%, it is disappointing that we continue to have the highest level of unemployment in the country, including for youth unemployment.
“There has been a significant increase in zero hours contracts in the region, with 52,000 now working on such contracts.
“In the last 12 months we have also seen an increase of 11 per-cent in female unemployment, partly as a result of public sector job losses.
“George Osborne in his Autumn Statement stated that there is yet more to come in terms of public sector jobs being cut.
“Despite what Ian Duncan Smith claims that there are jobs for all those who want full time employment, the reality for this region is that we have the highest level of under-unemployed of any region.”
Unusually, the employment rate is higher among women than among men in the North East – in most places in the UK it is the other way round.
They remain close though – the rate for men is 8.9% while among women the figure is 9.3%
A spokesman for the Office of National Statistics said:
“The unemployment rate for people aged 16 and over for the UK was 6 per-cent for the period August to October 2014.
“The region with the highest rate in Great Britain was the North East at 9.1 per-cent followed by Wales and Yorkshire and The Humber, both at 7.1 per-cent and the West Midlands at 6.8 per-cent.
“The regions with the lowest rate were the South East at 4.6 per-cent followed by the South West, at 4.8% and the East of England, at 5 per-cent.”
Not surprisingly the region topped the list of people claiming jobseekers allowance.
The Office for National Statistics said:
“The seasonally adjusted Claimant Count rate for the UK was 2.7 per-cent in November 2014, down 0.1 percentage points from October 2014, with the level down 26,900.
“The region with the highest rate in Great Britain was the North East, at 4.5 per-cent, down 0.1 percentage point from the previous month.”
> As usual, no mention of sanctions and their role in “reducing” unemployment levels.
Hundreds of thousands of jobseekers could have ‘disappeared’ from official unemployment figures after having their benefit payments docked, figures suggest.
According to research from the University of Oxford, up to 500,000 unemployed people closed their Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claim soon after being sanctioned by the DWP.
Rather than moving into employment, these people are simply disappearing from the benefits system entirely and no one has a clue where they’re ending up.
This means that unemployment could be 20,000 to 30,000 higher each month than figures suggest. If true, it would mean that as many as 1,000,000 people would have been claiming JSA in August 2014, rather than the 970,000 widely reported in the press.
It’s also important to note that some groups aren’t included in the claimant count – one measure used to calculate unemployment – including sickness benefit claimants, some working age students and early retirees – among others.
Professor Stuckler, who analysed data from 375 local authorities, said:
“The data clearly show that many people are not leaving JSA for work but appear to be being pushed off in unprecedented numbers in association with sanctions.”
The death of a diabetic former soldier after his benefits were slashed sparked a Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry. More than 210,000 people signed a petition calling for the inquiry.
David, 59, was found dead at his home in Hertfordshire in July 2013. Penniless, David could not afford money for electric to keep his insulin refrigerated and died of fatal diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication caused by lack of insulin.
At the inquiry held last week, Labour’s Debbie Abrahams MP told the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith MP:
“Hundreds of thousands of people have had their benefits stopped for a minimum of four weeks and then approximately a quarter of these people, from the research that I’ve seen, are disappearing.
“They are leaving and we don’t know where they are going. That’s an absolute indictment of this policy and it’s a little bit worrying if we’re trying to tout this internationally as a real success story.”
Iain Duncan Smith responded:
“Well I don’t agree with any of that. I actually believe the sanctions regime as applied is fair, we always get the odd case of …”
Not giving Mr Duncan Smith a chance to complete his sentence, a furious Debbie Abrahams retorted:
“People are dying because of these sanctions!”
Jobseekers who fail to comply with strict requirements imposed upon them risk having their benefits docked, or ‘sanctioned’. Some unemployed people claim their benefit payments have been stopped or reduced for trivial or harsh reasons. Such as failing to turn-up to a Job Centre appointment, even though they have informed staff they were in hospital.
After the Select Committee hearing Debbie Abrahams said:
“It’s incredible that the minister can simply brush aside the mounting evidence that inappropriate use of social security sanctions is having on vulnerable people.
> Well, glad you’ve noticed it’s happening. The rest of us have known this since Day 1.
“We’ve already heard from a whistleblower who left his job as a JCP advisor because he refused to apply sanctions when people had done nothing wrong.
“And recently, over 200,000 people have signed a petition to look into the death of an ex-soldier and diabetic, from Stevenage, who died after having been sanctioned.
“He was found dead surrounded by job applications, penniless and with an empty stomach according to his post-mortem. He couldn’t even afford to run his fridge so couldn’t keep his medicines cold.
“Sanctions are being applied unfairly to job-seekers as well as the sick and disabled. And we shouldn’t forget that most people on social security are actually in work but are struggling to make ends meet.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 12 Nov 2014
MP Debbie Abrahams has revealed that Oxford academics will report next month on what has happened to half a million jobseekers allowance (JSA) claimants who were sanctioned and subsequently disappeared from official employment statistics.
The Oxford University study led by Professor David Stuckler and Dr. Rachel Loopstra, is in the process of analysing what has happened to the 4.5 million people who have been sanctioned under the Coalition government’s sanctioning regime.
Their research will be published in full later this month for full peer review. According to Abrahams:
“Since the government’s regulations came into effect in October 2012 about half of all sanction decisions have led to people on JSA having their social security payments cut for a least 4 weeks, affecting over 2 million people.
“Of those sanctioned, one in four leave JSA, and their preliminary statistical analysis is revealing that most of those who leave do so for reasons other than employment.”
The research suggests more than 500,000 Job Seekers Allowance claimants have ‘disappeared’ since the sanctions regime was toughened in October 2012.
This could mean the claimant count – one of the ways of measuring unemployment – is actually 20,000 to 30,000 higher each month than government figures.
This suggests that, in August 2014, the claimant count could have hit one million instead of being at 970,000.
“Sanctions are being applied unfairly to job-seekers as well as the sick and disabled. And we shouldn’t forget that most people on social security are actually in work but are struggling to make ends meet.
“I’ve always maintained that the real reason the government is doing this is to get them off the JSA claimant figures, so it looks like there are fewer people who are unemployed.
It directly contradicts the government’s current claims about these people coming off JSA because they’ve gone into work.
“Iain Duncan Smith will try and say these statistics are unreliable but the fact is these are the DWP’s own statistics so they can’t wriggle out of it using that excuse!”
Stuckler and Loopstra, who have analysed data from 375 local authority areas have said they are ‘shocked’ by what they have found so far.
Talking about his research findings Professor Stuckler said: “The data clearly show that many people are not leaving JSA for work but appear to be being pushed off in unprecedented numbers in association with sanctions.”
> Well, it’s nice that academics and politicians are finally catching up with what the rest of us already knew… question now is, what are they going to do with their new-found knowledge ?
Source – Benefits & Work, 07 Nov 2014
The jobless rate for the North East has risen to 9.9% – despite a fall in the overall UK figure.
As the Government celebrates the national rate dropping from 6.4% to 6.2%, saying it is the lowest since the height of the economic crisis in 2008, the trend in this region is upwards.
The only other UK region to see an increase in its jobless total from May to July was the South West where it rose 0.1% to 5%.
The latest rise in the region, from 9.8% to 9.9%, is the third in the last three quarters.
However a spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said the rate is down 0.5% drop on this time last year.
“We know the jobs are there,” he said.
Meanwhile the figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, revealed the full extent of the affect of Government policies on the Public Sector.
They showed that since the May 2009 election, won by the Tory Lib-Dem Coalition, the number of people working in this sector has plummeted 58,000 from 296,000 to 238,000.
The Northern Public Services Alliance which campaigns to defend public services is now calling for an urgent Public Services Summit on November 29, to deal with what it describes as the “devastating scale of attack on our region’s public services.”
Over the last quarter the employment rate has dropped 11,000 while economic inactivity is up 13,000.
Despite this the latest Claimant Count for August was 58,700, down 1,700 on the previous month and a 23,900 drop year-on-year.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 17 Sept 2014
Welfare News Service asked the Office for National Statistics (ONS):
Could you please verify as to whether ‘sanctioned’ Jobseekers in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance (both income and contributory based) are included in official government statistics/datasets submitted to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in relation to UK unemployment. Could you also further clarify as to whether this remains the case in relation to Universal Credit?
Does this extend to ‘sanctioned’ ESA WRAG recipients?
Thank you for your recent request under the Freedom of Information Act regarding the effect of sanctions on UK unemployment statistics.
Unemployment in the UK is measured using the Labour Force Survey (LFS), consistent with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition. The LFS is a sample survey of people living in private households. The survey asks a series of questions about respondents’ personal circumstances and their activity in the labour market.
Through these questions every respondent is classified as in employment, unemployed or economically inactive, consistent with ILO definitions. The LFS and ILO defines an individual as unemployed if they are without work, available for work and seeking work. The UK applies this as ‘anybody who is not in employment and has actively sought work in the last 4 weeks and is available to start work in the next 2 weeks, or has found a job and is waiting to start in the next 2 weeks’, is considered to be unemployed.
As this data is gathered from a survey, the LFS, it is independent of whether or not the individual is claiming benefits, and therefore is not affected by sanctions.
If an individual who is in the Work Related Activity Group of Employment and Support Allowance is meeting the above criteria they would also be counted as unemployed irrespective of whether they are being sanctioned or not. The same would also be true of any claimants of Universal Credit who meet this criteria.
ONS also publishes the Claimant Count, which is the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). People who are sanctioned are those who have an underlying entitlement to JSA, but have not followed the rules of the benefit scheme. People who are sanctioned do not automatically have their claim closed by DWP, but will not receive payment of JSA during the period of the sanction. Any live sanctioned claim, where the individual continues to sign on, would continue to be included within the Claimant Count. However, if they choose not to sign-on during their sanction period, their claim will be closed, as would be the case generally if a claimant fails to sign on – and as such would not be included in the Claimant Count.
Currently the Claimant Count estimates do not include any claimants of Universal Credit. ONS will include jobseeker Universal Credit claims in the Claimant Count statistics as soon as possible. The absence of Universal Credit claimants currently has a small effect on the Claimant Count for the UK.
We’re still waiting for the DWP to respond to our FOI.
Source – Welfare News Service, 09 Sept 2014
Fears that the region was “out of sight and out of mind” for the Government have been voiced after the latest jobless figures revealed the only place in the UK where unemployment was going up was the North East.
The overall national rate has dropped to 6.6% in the three months to April, the lowest since January 2009, causing Chancellor George Osborne to hail the news as an important step towards the goal of full employment, while Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “Britain is bouncing back.”
Yet the figures they were celebrating, published by the Office for National Statistics, revealed unemployment in the North East had risen 6,000 to 131,000 from February to April, putting the jobless rate here at 9.8%, again the highest in the UK and by some distance.
Chi Onwurah, Labour’s Newcastle Central MP, said: “They are talking like it’s mission complete but the fact is the North East is still seeing unemployment on the rise.
“It shows that the North East is out of sight and out of mind of this Coalition Government.”
The next lowest figures in the UK are Yorkshire and Humber with 8.2% and the West Midlands with 7.5%. Even Wales, which has suffered economically like the North East because of the collapse of traditional industries like mining, boasts an unemployment rate of 6.6%, the same as the national average.
And while the Government highlighted the news that the number of people in employment in the region had gone up 15,000 from February to April to 1,206,000, there was bad news on the wages front too.
The ONS figures showed the average salary of those in work in the North East has fallen 7.3% year-on-year with women particularly hardest hit with a 10.7% drop. Meanwhile the current CPI rate of inflation is 1.8%.
Mark Stephenson of the North East Chamber of Commerce concentrated on the rise in employment rates in the region and the fall in the claimant count.
He said: “It’s great to see North East employment estimates rising at the fastest rate in the UK for the second consecutive month. Hopefully we are starting to see a trend develop that will see our region make ground on other parts of the UK that experienced these rises earlier in the economic recovery.”
However he added: “The long term measures for employment and the claimant count are positive signs, albeit the total number of unemployed in the North East remains high – especially at the younger end of the labour market. The challenge isn’t abating and casts a shadow over the positive figures we see elsewhere.”
> Bloody hell – where does he buy his rose-tinted glasses ?
Source – Newcastle Journal, 12 June 2014
The jobless total has fallen again in South Tyneside, reversing last month’s upward trend.
A total of 5,661 people in the borough claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in February, compared with 5,826 the previous month.
This means 165 fewer people on the dole locally, reducing the percentage of the local working age population claiming JSA from 6.1 per cent to 6.0 per cent.
> Wow ! 0.1% ! Though I notice there’s no mention of whether that figure includes those sanctioned… I suspect it does.
However, youth unemployment across the borough remains stubbornly high, with 1,500 people aged between 18 and 24 claiming JSA.
And the youth unemployment figure in South Tyneside is 11.6 per cent, compared with eight per cent for the North East as a whole.
Last month’s rise in the local claimant count was blamed on the end of seasonal employment over the festive period.
Coun Michael Clare, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for regeneration and economy, said: “This is welcome news to see the jobless figures reduce for last month, getting everything back on track after the recent seasonal rise, due to the end of hundreds of temporary festive contracts.
“The council is continuing to work closely with its partners to generate practical and informative opportunities for both apprentices and jobseekers in the borough.”
Across the North East, unemployment stands at 125,000, a fall of 8,000 over the last quarter, while the regional claimant count is 70,300, a reduction of 1,700 between January and February.
Mark Stephenson, manager of policy and research for the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), said: “The North East has improved on all measures within the labour market between November 2013 and January 2014, which is to be welcomed.
“This continues an upward trend, in particular for employment and claimant count figures, which have been heading steadily in the right direction for several quarters.”
But he added: “However, the North East unemployment rate is still the highest in the country, which has to be a focus for policy makers moving forward.”
Nationally, unemployment in the UK fell by 63,000 to 2.33 million in the three months to January 2014.
Source – Shields Gazette, 20 March 2014
When David Cameron stands up in all his hypocrisy and tells you that tearing apart the basic safety net that guaranteed people would not be left in hunger or destitution is part of his “moral mission”, even die-hard Tories should agree that the country has taken a turn for the worse.
When he defends an administration that has become so punitive that applicants who don’t get it right have to wait without food for months at a time, by claiming he is doing “what is right”, even die-hard Tories should agree that the man who claims he is Prime Minister has diverged from reality.
That is precisely what he has done, and you can bet that the Tory diehards will quietly go along with it because they think it is far better for other people to lose their lives than it is for their government to lose face.
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2.34 million people were unemployed in October – December 2013 compared to the figure of 2.32 million a month earlier. The rate of unemployment grew to 7.2% of the working age population, whilst the number of people ‘economically inactive’ also rose.
Today’s figures have led to some confusion with the DWP spinning wildly that everything is fine and unemployment is still falling. The problem lies in the way the figures are presented. It is true that unemployment has fallen from the previous quarter – meaning there were less unemployed people between October – December 2013 than July – September 2013. However there were more unemployed people between October and December 2013 than there were between September and November 2013 – suggesting unemployment…
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The North East has again failed to follow the trend in falling unemployment.
Jobless figures out this morning show the region has the highest unemployment rate in the UK, at 10.3%.
The figure is up slightly from December’s 10.1%, while the rest of the UK saw record drops in unemployment.
Some 134,000 are unemployed in the North East, up around 1,000.
Nationally, unemployment has fallen to 7.1% – within touching distance of the figure which will be used to decide whether interest rates will increase, official data have revealed.
> But I bet we’ll get the increased rates nevertheless…
The number of jobless people plunged by 167,000 in the quarter to November – the second biggest fall on record – to 2.32 million, the lowest for almost five years.
The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee has said it will not lift interest rates above their historically-low level of 0.5% until the unemployment rate drops to 7%.
The quarterly fall of 167,000 is the biggest since the autumn of 1997 and the second largest since records began in 1971.
The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance in December fell by 24,000 to 1.25 million, the lowest figure for almost five years.
The so-called claimant count has now fallen for 14 months in a row.
> All those sanctions…
Meanwhile, the number of people in work has reached a record high of just over 30 million, giving an employment rate of 72.1%, an increase of 0.5% over the quarter to November.
Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “Creating jobs and getting people into employment are central to our economic plan to build a stronger, more competitive economy, so it is very encouraging news that we’ve seen a record-breaking rise in employment over the last three months – the largest ever.
“With the highest quarterly fall in unemployment since 1997, it’s clear that the Government’s long-term economic plan to get people off benefits and into work so they can secure their future is proving successful.”
> Off benefits and into greater poverty would be nearer the mark, I suspect.
Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter: “The biggest quarterly increase in employment on record. More jobs means more security, peace of mind and opportunity for the British people.”
> He might have added: “Except in the North East and Northern Ireland, but they dont vote Tory anyway, so who cares ?”
If even despite the record numbers of sanctions and other figures manipulation NE unemployment still rises, then you know you’ve got problems. I can see come April we’ll all be on Workfare… or be forced to move to other areas… 0r just rounded up and shot.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 22 Jan 2014