Tagged: Esther McVey

North East latest unemployment figures

The unemployment rate in the North East was revealed today as 9.4%.

The figure for July to September is the same as the figure for the previous quarter.

However the actual numbers for those unemployed is down from 120,000 to 117,000. Although that represents a 1.3% fall in numbers, this hasn’t affected the overall percentage figure as more people have entered the job market.

> As usual, no mention of how many of that 1.3% are people who have been sanctioned or have just signed off and vanished.

The Office for National Statistics report revealed mixed news for men and women workers.

In the 16 to 64 age group, the unemployment rate for men has dropped since the last quarter – April to June – from 9.6% to 8.7%.

Over the same period, it has gone up for women from 9.2% to 10%.

But Employment Minister Esther McVey said the amount of women in work in the North East since last year has actually gone up.

She said:

“The North East had the second largest annual rise in the female employment rate of all UK regions – up 1.9 percentage points to 64.6%, so as the economy continues to grow, more and more people are having their lives transformed by moving into work.”

> Right – so the official figures say female unemployment rose, but McVile says really things are improving. That makes perfect sense…

They revealed that average weekly pay has fallen from £456 to £422 since the last quarter – about a 7.5% drop. Year-on-year the figure has fallen from £438, a 3.7% fall.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle,  12 Nov 2014

McVey’s latest Psycho-babble project is a Ploy to divert Public money to Private Sector?

Ingeus ? Oh dear… having experienced two years of them on Work Programme, I can only say that they couldn’t organize a… well, couldn’t organize anything much beyond diverting publish cash into their own coffers.

While there, I experienced one of their psychological tests. It was a case of ticking boxes, many of which didn’t match my situation and there was no “none of the above” option.
Answers were given points which, when added up, told you what kind of animal you were. Yes, what kind of animal… it seemed more like a test for 10 years, indeed might actually have been designed by 10 year olds.
Just for the record, I was a Tiger… albeit only because I got fed up after the first two questions and thereafter just ticked boxes randomly. I’ve absolutely no recollection of what jobs tigers were supposed to be good at.
I do remember that another possible animal was the Sloth. Presumably if you were one of them you got sanctioned on the basis that you must be lazy. That’d fit in with Ingeus’s simplistic worldview.


Last December Sue Jones and I  wrote an article, The Just World Fallacy, considering the purpose of the Governments Nudge Unit; therein we demonstrated how unemployment is not caused by psychological barriers but by Governments failure to invest in appropriate growth projects, and how the aforementioned Nudge Unit works to spread the Tory mantra- the fault of worklessness lies firmly with the claimant.

Yesterday Esther McVey announced the latest ‘ psychological test’ for unemployed people, an attitude profile of their ‘psychological resistance to work’;  an assessment to identify if they are  “determined”, “bewildered” or “despondent” about seeking employment.

This latest scheme well named the  ‘segmentation programme’, as it will determine the future hoops claimants must jump through to access benefits, is based upon the work of Australian Therese Rein, founder and Managing Director of  Ingeus. Ingeus, in partnership with Deloitte, also happen to be, the “preferred supplier for seven of the DWP ’ 11 Frameworks…

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Government plans to privatise Remploy criticised by Spennymoor union man

A union official has spoken out about the planned privatisation of a workplace scheme for the disabled.

Ken Stubbs, a branch secretary for the GMB’s Northern region, in Spennymoor, County Durham, is against any privatisation of Remploy which provides jobs for disabled workers.

Plans to sell off Remploy have been announced by Esther McVey, the Conservative Minister for Employment.

The Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) hopes to find a private buyer by March 2015.

Mr Stubbs, who was based at the former Spennymoor Remploy factory, said: “The GMB needs to discuss this.

“The Government probably has someone lined up to take Remploy on.

“I think the Government wants to free up money by removing Remploy in order to raise the funds to run its own Work Programme to get people into jobs.”

> Or, in reality, to continue giving money to Work Programme providers, despite the fact they continually fail to get people into jobs.

Remploy has closed all of its North-East factories which were based in Spennymoor, County Durham, Newcastle, Gateshead, Ashington and Sunderland with the loss of 170 jobs.

The Government hopes that by privatising Remploy it will allow further funding to be invested into the scheme.

However, a DWP spokesman denied the sale was to raise funds for the Work Programme scheme.

 He said: “I don’t think that is the case at all. I don’t think that the Government is out to make a lot of money from the sale of Remploy.”
> Of course, its quite likely that Remploy could be sold to one of the current WP providers anyway.

Beth Carruthers, Remploy chief executive, said: “The Government’s announcement provides us with an exciting opportunity to expand and grow and support many more disabled people.

“Moving out of the public sector will give us the freedom to raise funding to operate in a much more commercial and competitive way.”

It is hoped that all current employees of Remploy will transfer to any new company which takes it on.

Source – Northern Echo, 26 July 2014

Bishop Auckland MP apologises over “puppets” tweet

A North-East MP apologised last night after branding leading Conservative women MPs “puppets” who are interesting only for their clothes.

Helen Goodman, the Bishop Auckland MP, faced fierce criticism after backing a newspaper’s controversial “catwalk” coverage of the new Cabinet.

The Daily Mail has come under fire for sexism after a double-page feature focused on the hair, clothes, shoes, handbags – and even the legs – of promoted female Cabinet ministers.

But, yesterday, Ms Goodman tweeted: “#Mail’s page on Tory women was fair: all are puppets who’ll change nothing and their appearance really is most interesting thing about them.”

The comment triggered a major Westminster row, with immediate demands for Labour’s culture spokeswoman to withdraw the “demeaning slur”.

Anna Soubrey, the defence minister, said: “Helen Goodman’s comments were deliberately insulting. She should personally apologise to every one of the talented women she has chosen to cheaply slur.

“Ed Miliband needs to make clear that these comments are absolutely unacceptable otherwise once again we will see that he is too weak to stand up to his own shadow ministers.”

And Nicky Morgan, the new Education Secretary, said: “Helen Goodman’s comments were disgraceful and there is no place for them in modern politics.”

A letter sent to Mr Miliband demanded that the Labour leader “take disciplinary action” against the Bishop Auckland MP, unless she backed down.

Initially, Ms Goodman attempted to ride out the storm, arguing the comment had been meant as a joke and saying: “I’m very sorry my last tweet offended some people. I intended it as a light-hearted remark.”

 And Labour declined to criticise her, telling The Northern Echo: “The Labour Party’s view is that David Cameron’s promises on increasing the representation of women are a sham.

“He said a third of all his ministers would be women – fewer than one in four are. It is David Cameron who has failed.”

However, more than three hours later – as criticism intensified – Ms Goodman tweeted: “I was wrong in what I tweeted about Tory women ministers and I apologise to them unreservedly.”

> Sigh – another capitulation.

In the much-ridiculed Mail feature, Elizabeth Truss, the new Environment Secretary, was described as looking “bright and sensible but a little bit too eighties air hostess”.

And the newspaper called work minister Esther McVey a “thigh-flashing vision in grey check by Vivienne Westwood”.

> Considering how Fester McVile  gets described in blogs…

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg poked fun at the Mail, posting a photo of himself wearing a suit, shirt and trademark Liberal Democrat yellow tie – and joking that he hoped he did not look “too 80s cabin attendant”.

> No Nick. You just look like a prat.

Source –  Northern Echo, 18 July 2014

North East Unemployment figure rises by 5,000

Unemployment in the North East has increased by 5,000 in the quarter to May, official figures have revealed.

 According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a total of 129,000 people were unemployed in the region between March and May.

The region’s unemployment rate was 9.6% and saw a rise of 4.0% during the period.

Nationwide, the new Cabinet was given good news with the latest figures showing record employment and another huge fall in the numbers out of work.

> Except in the North East…

More than 30 million people are in work, an increase of almost one million over the past year, the best figures since records began in 1971. Unemployment fell by 121,000 in the quarter to May, to 2.12 million, the lowest since the end of 2009.

> Except in the North East…

The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance fell by 36,300 in June to 1.04 million, the 20th consecutive monthly fall and the lowest total since 2008.

Economic inactivity, covering those looking after a relative, on long-term sick leave, or no longer looking for work, was 67,000 lower at just under 8.8 million, the lowest figure for more than a decade.

Just over 78% of men and 68% of women are in work, giving an employment rate of 73.1%.

Other figures from the ONS showed that more than 4.5 million people were self-employed, the highest since records began in 1992, after an increase of 404,000 over the past year.

Average earnings increased by 0.3% in the year to May, 0.5% down on the previous month, giving average weekly pay of £478. The 0.3% rise was the lowest since 2009, while excluding bonuses, the figure was 0.7%, the lowest since records began in 2001.

Long-term and youth unemployment have both continued to fall. The number of jobless 16-to-24-year-olds fell by 64,000 over the latest quarter to 817,000, including 283,000 full-time students looking for part-time work.

There was also a drop in the number of people in a part-time job wanting full-time work – down by 61,000 to 1.3 million.

Job vacancies were up by 30,000 to 648,000, an increase of more than 100,000 on a year ago, but 48,000 fewer than the pre-recession peak at the start of 2008.

Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “An important milestone has been reached in our country’s recovery. With one of the highest employment rates ever, it’s clear that the Government’s long-term economic plan to help businesses create jobs and get people working again is the right one.

> Except in the North East…

“With an employment rate which has never been higher, record women in work and more young people in jobs, the resilience of the country during the downturn is being rewarded. We know there is more to do, and the best way to do so is to go on delivering a plan that’s creating growth and jobs.”

> Except in the North East…

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Today’s figures show more people have the security of a job than ever before. Full employment is a key aim of our long-term economic plan.”

> Except in the North East…

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “More people up and down the country are finding jobs as we build a stronger, more balanced economy. And today we have the highest employment rate on record, which shows that this Government has created the right conditions for growth.

> Except in the North East…

We have made the tough decisions to reduce our deficit – lifting around three million people out of tax so they keep more of what they earn, healing the scar of the north-south divide through the Regional Growth Fund, and giving young people a helping hand by boosting apprenticeships.”

> Except in the North East…

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: “The fall in unemployment is welcome. However, it is time to drill down into the details of what types of jobs are being created and where.

“This is because large swathes of the country and a great number of workers have seen little or no benefit from this recovery.

“Much of the growth is due to demographic factors, and the increase in population means GDP per head is still well below 2007 levels. This is the root cause of average earnings being down 13.8% in real terms since then.”

Source –  Hartlepool Mail, 16 July 2014

Farewell to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary who repeatedly attacked North East schools

Depending on who they were, Ministers in David Cameron’s Government were either celebrating promotions or mourning the end of their political career after being invited in to Downing Street to hear their fate in today’s re-shuffle.

With a ruling Coalition that has only four North East MPs – all on them on the backbenches – any re-shuffle is not likely to have an obvious immediate impact on the region.

Yet Mr Cameron’s various moves on the chessboard, widely seen as part of his strategy to try and win the next election, will have been followed by many in the region.

It is a fair bet that many a champagne cork will have been popping in school staffrooms at the re-shuffle’s largest casualty, the Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Being unpopular with teachers is almost a job requirement for Education Secretary, but Mr Gove seems to gone above and beyond that brief, not least with teachers in part of the North East after he attacked schools in County Durham with the slightly odd comment that “when you go into those schools, you can smell the sense of defeatism.”

The re-shuffle effectively saw Mr Gove sacked from his Education job. Instead he will become Chief Whip, responsible for imposing discipline on Conservative MPs, and will represent the Government on television, according to the Prime Minister’s official spokesman – which led to him being dubbed “Minister for TV” at Westminster.

Although Mr Gove is popular with sections of his party, and hailed as a hero by supporters of his school reforms, his departure from the education brief is likely to please some North East teachers and heads.

The new Education Secretary is Nicky Morgan, who became in MP in 2010 and was previously a Treasury Minister. After making it into the Commons in 2010 at the second attempt, the former corporate lawyer was quickly earmarked by Mr Cameron as a potential star and was made a ministerial aide within months, a whip in 2012 and a junior Treasury minister last October.

Source –  Newcastle Journal, 15 July 2015

Labour’s ‘Big Idea’ for JSA: a translation

I have decided to try my hand at translation. The two languages are, grammatically, almost identical. I shall translate from Labour leader Ed Miliband’s English to my native tongue, plain English. I’m not qualified so there may be some debate on my translations. Some may call them clunky, or say I am over-stripping, that if I left in a little more bullshit the beauty of the original Miliband language might be preserved.

Ed Miliband has presented a Big Idea for cutting jobseekers allowance, based on the following maxim: “Britain’s young people who do not have the skills they need for work should be in training, not on benefits.”

No more jobseekers allowance for you, 18-to-21-Year-Old-Who-Hasn’t-Found-a-Job-Yet (I’ll call you “Tim” for short). Labour plan to end out-of-work benefits for around 100,000 Tims and replace it with another payment that’s means-tested according to parental income, and dependent on “training”. So, instead of getting money with which to buy frivolous things like food and shelter, Tim will be getting “training” and less money (because Tim’s parents are of course rich, by virtue of being old, and willing to give him as much as he needs).

This may seem simple but given the vast cultural differences between politicians and those of us who live in The Real World, some translation – and a massive slow clap – is needed.

They say:Young people don’t have the skills for work
Translation:Businesses don’t want to spend money training entry-level employees, so demand that they come ready-made. They would be delighted to pass this cost on to the government if the government are ever stupid enough to offer.”

The recession and following job crisis is, in terms of recruitment, the best thing that ever happened to businesses. Remember the term “on-the-job training”? It went out of fashion in the last few years, when recruiters realised that they were buyers in a buyer’s market and could demand whatever the hell they wanted from potential employees, then sit back as thousands scrambled to appease them.

Hence ridiculous requests like “graduates with five years’ experience”, as a Central Saint Martin’s student was told he needed for an entry-level assistant job in a clothes store. Sure, he’d folded pants before, but he hadn’t honed his folding skills over five years so frankly, what good would he have been to them for £18k a year?

They say:Young people who are out of work need need training, not benefits.”
Translation: “We’ve noticed that for some reason, young people are suddenly lacking in skills. This has never been a problem with any generations that came before this massive recession…what could the connection be? Oh! We know! Since school does not magically train young people for what employers need, and employers aren’t willing to do it themselves, we’re going to make taxpayers pay for it.”

I love the idea that suddenly young people are lacking skills previous generations had. Like somehow we got a bad batch of youngster, because it was the 90s and pregnant women thought red After Shock was good for the baby. The admission that young people lack training is baked right into their policy, yet no one is asking why this has to come from government rather than schools or employers. How have businesses managed to pass on the cost of training their entry-level employees without anyone raising a fuss? Should we fund their office space as well?

They say:The ‘youth allowance’ will be means-tested on parental income.”
Translation:Even though we’re doing nothing to incentivise businesses to hire young people, we’re passing the cost of unemployment benefit on to young jobseekers’ parents. Because all parents are present, willing and able to financially support their adult children.”

Hey, boomers! Congrats on being the generation that votes. It’s really gone well for you hasn’t it? Now, not only have businesses blamed your “unskilled” kids for their frugal employment freeze, but after all that tax you paid, you’re still expected to support your kids financially because the government just don’t feel like doing it anymore. They’re too busy providing all the training businesses don’t want to pay for.

This myth that the parents of the downtrodden youth are necessarily rolling in it needs to die with the Loch Ness Monster. Fat chunks of the supposedly affluent middle classes are one pay cheque away from bankruptcy. Employed people are claiming housing benefit in their thousands, because now even a job can’t lift people out of poverty. It’s all hanging by a thread.

They say:The policy is not punitive, it’s designed to get young people the skills they need to get a job.”
Translation: “I’m a disingenuous tool, please throw long-expired foodstuffs at my eyes.”

Not only is this policy a mass reshuffling of who pays for what (with businesses once again getting the break), it’s another sneaky way to hide the fact that there aren’t enough jobs.

We’ve seen this same old youth-shaming and victim-blaming since the job crisis hit. Employment Minister Esther McVey had the nerve to claim young people lacked basic skills like “turning up on time” – quite an amazing remark to make about a group of people several million strong. Born recently? Late for work. Sure, Esther. That follows.

It utilises the now-familiar argument that’s designed to toss blame back on to jobseekers, “Well, young people, maybe you’re not good enough for a job as a cleaner”– as if there are plenty of jobs going, as if the only reason they’re jobless is their own brazen incompetence and manifest shiteness, as if managers are crying out for applicants who don’t turn up to the interview with breadsticks up their nose.

They’ve taken that argument, pretended it’s true, and used it as the basis for a policy.

If you’d all like to join me in a massive slow-clap…

Author – Erica Buist

Source – http://www.gothinkbig.co.uk/features/labours-big-idea-for-jobseekers-allowance-a-translation

Tory Minister Admits Link Between Welfare Cuts And Food Banks

Scottish National Party (SNP) Press Release:

After months of denial, a UK [Conservative Party] Minister has finally admitted there is a link between Westminster welfare cuts and the increase in food bank use across Scotland.

 Giving evidence to the Welfare Reform Committee in the Scottish Parliament, Under Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell* said there “isn’t any doubt” that some people have been forced to go to food banks “because they have been subject, for example, to sanctions or delays in receiving benefits.

The evidence the committee heard today is in stark contrast to evidence given to the committee by DWP director Neil Couling, who said that growing reliance on food banks was a result of the poorest people in society having to “maximise their economic choices”. This was later backed up by Employment Minister Esther McVey in a letter to Housing Minister Margaret Burgess.

Work and Pensions Minister Lord Freud has also previously claimed there was no link between Tory welfare cuts and soaring food bank use.

During the committee meeting, David Mundell also said he wanted the UK Government to produce an analysis of the use of food banks – something that has not yet been carried out, despite evidence from the Trussell Trust that reliance on food banks has grown 400 per cent in the past year.

The Trust’s figures also show that 22,387 children in Scotland used food banks in 2013/14 alone – an increase of over 1000 per cent since 2011/12.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael – who previously described the UK welfare system as “fantastic” – was scheduled to appear at the committee, but cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice.

SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing, who sits on the Welfare Reform Committee, said:

While it is welcome that a UK Government Minister has finally faced up to the fact that Westminster’s attack on welfare is responsible for the growing number of people forced to rely on food banks, this admission is long overdue. For months, Westminster has ducked responsibility and tried to blame the poor for the devastating impact cuts to benefits are having.

“David Mundell has said he would like to see a UK Government analysis on food banks – something that has not yet been produced, despite the fact reliance on food banks has grown 400 per cent. Given we now have 22,387 children in Scotland relying on food banks for a square meal, we desperately need a change of direction.

“Scotland is brimming with resources and talent – and is richer per head than the UK, France and Japan – but while it is tied the Westminster system the most vulnerable people in society are forced to use food banks. Only a Yes vote in September can give Scotland the opportunity to build the fairer country we know we can be.”

Commenting on Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael’s cancellation of his appearance before the committee with less than 24 hours’ notice, Annabelle Ewing said:

It was very disappointing that Alistair Carmichael did not attend the Welfare Reform Committee today. While everyone understands the importance of the commemoration on World War 1, Alistair Carmichael has a duty to appear before the Scottish Parliament and explain why the UK welfare system is ‘fantastic’ as he has previously claimed, and it would be good if it could be rescheduled.”


*David Mundell is the Conservative Party member of parliament  for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale (2014).


Source: Minister admits welfare cuts link to food bank use

Source – Welfare News Service, 26 June 2014


Jarrow MP slams benefits ‘con’ as people left with nothing to live on

Government benefit changes mean people in Jarrow “live for weeks on nothing”, town MP Stephen Hepburn warned this week.

 His comments came in a heated Parliamentary exchange this week with Employment Minister Esther McVey, during which Mr Hepburn attacked the Government’s welfare reforms and the way it treats people on Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA).

Mr Hepburn has obtained official Parliamentary statistics, indicating that more than half of those people in Jarrow whose benefits claims are reconsidered are unsuccessful.

Mr Hepburn said: “Can the minister explain why more than 50 per cent of benefit claimants in my constituency, whose benefits have been sanctioned, have had the decision overturned?

“In the meantime, they had to live week for weeks on nothing – unlike that lot over there, who stuff their nests.

“Is it not true that this scheme is nothing more than a con?

“The Government say that they are cutting benefits.

“They are cutting benefits, but they are taking them off the most vulnerable people in the country and leaving them out for ever.”

Mr Hepburn based his claims on new official Parliamentary figures from the Department for Work and Pensions, which indicate that more than 50 per cent of sanctions placed on JSA claimants in the Jarrow constituency have been overturned. The figures reveal that from October 22, 2012, to June 2013, there were 290 reconsiderations submitted to JSA claimants to sanctions imposed on them, with just over 51 per cent overturned.

However, in response, the Employment Minister rejected Mr Hepburn’s claims, stating: “There are a couple of points I need to answer, because what was said was inaccurate.

“The figure for the overturns is 10 per cent, not the high number the honorable gentleman alluded to.

“At the same time, people on sanctions are still on benefits and have an underlying qualification to them.

“The honorable gentleman is incorrect.

“Perhaps he does not like the fact that the number of people in work has gone up significantly under this Government, and the number of people needing to claim benefits has gone down significantly.”

> Perhaps he just doesn’t believe that to be true – especially in the north East…

Source – Shields Gazette,  26 June 2014

Workfare Till You Drop – Esther McVey To Target Older Claimants

the void

WorkFare-not-workingWhat they say …

“It’s time to change the conversation about extending working life from one about working “until you drop”, to one about a fuller working life, that means working as long as is necessary to create the future you want.”

Esther McVey and Steve Webb, Fuller Working Lives Ministerial Statement

What they mean …

labour-market-exitFuller Working Lives, page 8

Unpaid work, cuts to disability benefits and mandated ‘work-related activity’ are set to be at the heart of the latest DWP strategy aimed at bullying older people off benefits

Last week the DWP published Fuller Working Lives, a ‘framework for action’ for older unemployed people and the rhetoric is depressingly familiar. Under the guise of help and support it will be business as usual as older claimants are left at the mercy of the grasping welfare-to-work industry.

The report notes that around a million people over 50 are out…

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