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
The Commons Treasury select committee should investigate who are ‘the winners and losers’ in the jobs market, Unite, the country’s largest union, said in the wake of today’s (Wednesday 17 September) unemployment figures.
Unite said that the rosy picture painted by ministers masked the true nature of unemployment in the UK, such as the growing number of people ‘forced’ into so-called self-employment to get off benefits.
“We would urge the Treasury select committee to hold hearings to investigate who are the winners and losers in this so-called recovery as it is neither as clear cut, nor as rosy as the government likes to portray.
“There are serious questions to be asked whether we are on the road to recovery, bearing in mind there are 4.5 million self-employed, the widespread and insidious use of zero hours’ contracts, and with hundreds of thousands of young people losing hope of a future with a decent job.
“We should not forget that, in this week alone, nearly 12,000 jobs are under threat at Phones 4U and Birmingham City Council.
“A key area for MPs to investigate should be the long term trends and changes to the UK labour market and who is benefitting or not, and whether these changes are desirable for the future economic health of the nation’s workforce.
“Unite would be willing to give evidence to such an investigation by MPs.
“Unite believes that Britain’s workers need a pay rise to generate economic activity, make workers and their families more secure and to lift thousands out of reliance on benefits.”
Commenting on last month’s employment figures, Unite said that the British economy was in a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ situation.
Source – Welfare News Service, 17 Sept 2014
> Well, its understandable – these places north of Watford are all the same, aren’t they ?
David Cameron mixed up his Teesside and his Tyneside as he took to the airwaves to talk up economic growth in the region.
The Prime Minister frequently used examples of economic activity in Tyne and Wear – including investment from companies like Hitachi and Nissan – during an interview with BBC Tees.
Oh his third mention of the Tyne, BBC Tees presenter Lisa McCormick intervened.
“You keep mentioning the River Tyne, that’s not our region Prime Minister,” she said.
“I’m sorry, we are the River Tees, does that mean that you’re forgetting about us?”
For a moment Mr Cameron seemed flustered as he paused.
“Oh, I thought I was doing – oh no absolutely not,” he replied.
“I mean, if I look specifically in terms of the Tees Valley, we’ve got £90m from our local growth fund to boost economic growth.”
It might have been a swift recovery from the PM – but it was not quick enough for some.
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland‘s Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop seized the chance to attack Mr Cameron.
“In isolation this may just seem like a somewhat silly mistake, yet over the last four years we’ve had a Tory peer calling the region ‘desolate’, frequent misspellings of Teesside in official Number 10 letters, and now the Prime Minister himself can’t even take the basic cue of appearing on BBC Tees to get the hint that our river is the Tees and not the Tyne,” he said.
“This just highlights how David Cameron is out of touch and completely uninterested in places like Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar, Hartlepool and East Cleveland.”
UKIP’s North East MEP Jonathan Arnott also took the opportunity to bash the PM.
“This is not just embarrassing for the Prime Minister but also what’s left of the Conservative party in the North East of England,” he said.
“Whilst unemployment figures are going down elsewhere around the country, ours are still going up.
“Perhaps if he knew which area he was talking about, people might have more confidence that he actually cares about local people.”
Defending Mr Cameron was Conservative MP for Stockton South, James Wharton.
“No excuses, but I suspect he was doing a round of local interviews one after the other and these things can happen,” said the MP.
“I will be reminding him when I next see him not only how great Teesside is but of all the things this government has done for the south of our region, from bringing Hitachi to the return if steel making and the announcement of over £90m in local investment only a few weeks ago.
“I am proud of our record of delivering for this area and I am sure the Prime Minister is too.”
The chairman of the Redcar Constituency Liberal Democrats, Councillor Josh Mason, added:“The slip-up by the Prime Minister does not take away from the fact that since 2010 our area has received over five times more government investment per year than it did under the previous Labour government.
“It remains more important than ever for us to keep pushing for more investment and banging the drum for Teesside to ensure it remains on the government’s radar.”
The Prime Minister’s office declined to comment.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 25 July 2014
David Cameron claims the North East economy is growing – even as unemployment rises.
The Prime Minister used a visit to the Port of Tyne to champion the region after unemployment figures showed it was the only region to see joblessness increase in the last month.
He said: “The interesting thing is, I know that the unemployment figures for the last month in the North East were disappointing, but if you take the last quarter or the last year the increase in the employment rate of the North East was the fastest anywhere, not just in this country but the United Kingdom.
> The interesting thing is, Dave, that unemployment continues to rise in the North East, whatever crap you spout.
“There were 43,000 jobs created in the last month. We need that to go even faster to decrease unemployment as well.”
> Really ? 43,000 jobs created in the last month ? Where are they, Dave ? I don’t see them when I do my jobsearch. The rise in unemployment suggest no-one else does either.
The unemployment figures out this week, in which the North East was the only area to see an increase, came after the Guardian newspaper caused outrage by comparing the region to Detroit.
“To say that is just to put the North East down,” Mr Cameron said of the controversial article. “You know, Nissan is producing more cars than the whole of Italy,”
> We also know that Nissan has just laid off 350+ workers…
“we have the Hitachi train factory coming that will mean massive investment for the North East, we have oil rigs being fabricated on the Tyne now, something that has not happened here for some years.
“The Chancellor and I have been very clear: we need an economy where we invest more, where we make more, design more things, export more things, and the North East is a very positive part of that.
“We need everyone involved in politics and business in the North East to speak up for it, and I’m glad to play my part.”
He added: “I think we are putting our money where our mouth is here. We have put a third of a billion into the North East through the regional growth fund, with the city deals, we have unprecedented devolution to Sunderland, Newcastle, there are major infrastructure projects going ahead with the Metro and the Tyne crossing.”
The Prime Minister’s brief visit to the Port of Tyne in South Tyneside did not include any discussions with regional leaders, however.
South Tyneside Council leader Iain Malcolm said he thought the PM was “frit” – meaning “frightened”.
“I have to say we are quite disappointed with this,” Mr Malcolm said. “What we wanted was for the PM to have the courage to come and see the regional leaders and set out what can be done to tackle the issues facing the North East.
“Instead of engaging with any of us he just flew in and flew out as quickly as he could.”
> And nobody knew he was coming… therefore there was no chance of embarrassing demonstrations.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 17 May 2014
According to IDS, figures showing that the number of self-employed workers has jumped by 600,000 is a sign of “entrepreneurial spirit” and proves that his bungled and reckless policies are working. What is really going on is very different and lays the foundation for an unemployment time bomb at the heart of Universal Credit.
Some of the rise in self-employment is almost certainly down to falling living standards. People who have taken early retirement are setting up small businesses in an effort to pay soaring bills, along with so-called mumpreneurs – parents forced out of the workplace due to huge childcare costs and shit wages. The rise of the internet has also allowed some of those who are unemployed to generate a…
View original post 571 more words
“The truth is that independent statistics show that unemployment is falling significantly and 1.3million more people are in work than in 2010.”
And come April, they’ll fall even more with the start of Workfare. Before long, there will offically be no-one unemployed, so they’ll feel justified in stopping all benefits.
Reposted from the Mirror
Now, imagine if you will for a minute, that you made cock up after cock up in your place of work. What do you think might happen? written warning? P45? WHY is this incompetent minister still in office. I remember when I was nursing, someone said to me that a ward is only as good as the Sister running it…. I rest my case. Get rid of IDS and the DWP is bound to improve!
Benefit claimants on the government’s flagship welfare scheme have been kept off official unemployment figures, the government has admitted.
Errors by Iain Duncan Smith’s bungling Department of Work and Pensions have meant those on the new Universal Credit scheme are being excluded from the official “claimant count” figure used to measure the number of people out of work.
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This is a few months old, but well worth reprising…
One of the purported achievements of the Coalition government’s disastrous economic policy of austerity, has been the unemployment figures. Pundits say that at 7.8% (2.51m) they are nothing to shout about but not the disastrous rates seen in states such as Greece (26.9%) or Spain (26.3%). In reality, the unemployment rate is more than double this in many areas, while those in employment are facing ever worsening conditions to retain their non-jobs.
We have the Thatcher government to thank for the majority of the statistical trickery which currently renders the government released unemployment figures redundant. Prior to 1979, the unemployment rate was anyone registered as unemployed, this was converted to a percentage of the total workforce and that was the published unemployment rate. Then some changes came in:
- Redefining Unemployment: originally defined as those ‘registered’ unemployed, changed to only count ‘claimants’ – this obviously reduced the number greatly as many unemployed people do not, for various reasons, claim benefits.
- Cutting Benefit Entitlements: By making changes to the benefit system (who is eligible and not) the government can magic away unemployment numbers by simply removing eligibility for benefits. If the person cannot claim, they are not classed as unemployed.
- Training Schemes & Work Programmes: the conservative government of the 80’s began to double count those in training & work programmes. First, they excluded them from the unemployed figures, then they added them to the total workforce figures – this means that simply by recruiting people into a work programme, the government has reduced the unemployment figures. Prior to Thatcher, these schemes were not counted as employment.
The Thatcher government was able to show a drop in unemployment of 550,000 in July 1986, and 668,000 in 1989 by transferring those unemployed into work programmes. They also kept an average 90,000 unemployed under 18 year olds off the books by making them ineligible to claim benefits.
Sadly, none of these changes have since been reversed, giving the UK public a much skewed view of unemployment and underemployment. If we look at the research prepared by other bodies without such downright deceitful exemptions, we reveal a more realistic picture of the economic woe being meted out across the country.
A study put together by Sheffield University last year set out to establish the real level of unemployment in the UK, given that there has been little change in the published unemployment statistic, we can suppose they still hold relatively true. The study found:
- For Britain as a whole in April 2012, the new figures point to more than 3.4 million unemployed. This compares to just 1.5 million on the claimant count and 2.5 million according to the Labour Force Survey – the government’s two official measures of unemployment. The difference is attributable to extensive hidden unemployment.
- An estimated 900,000 unemployed have been diverted onto incapacity benefits. These are men and women with health problems who claim incapacity benefits instead of unemployment benefits. They do not represent fraudulent claims.
- Hidden unemployment is disproportionately concentrated in the weakest local economies, where claimant unemployment is already highest. The effect has been to mask the true scale of labour market disparities between the best and worst parts of the country.
- In the worst affected districts, the real rate of unemployment is often around 15 per cent. Knowsley in Merseyside tops the list with a real rate of unemployment estimated at 16.8 per cent.
- The older industrial areas of the Midlands, the North, Scotland and Wales mostly have the highest rates of unemployment. In large parts of the south of England the rate is still only 3-4 per cent.
- Comparisons with similar data for earlier years shows that Britain was still a long way off full employment before the 2008/9 recession. Full employment is now still further away and the real rate of unemployment is higher than at any time since 1997.
- The report casts serious doubt on the likely impact of the Coalition government’s reforms, notably the Work Programme and Universal Credit, which are founded on the assumption that unemployment can be brought down by encouraging the unemployed to find work. The evidence points to large and continuing shortfalls in job opportunities away from the most prosperous parts of southern England.
One of the more worrying points in the survey is the widening gap between ‘claimant count’ and unemployed , as ever increasing numbers of people fund themselves without a job or eligibility to claim social security. For this expanding pool of people, exploitation beckons.
The government is pressurising people into ever more exploitative work programmes in order to reduce unemployment figures by threatening withdrawal of social security for non-compliance. In 2011, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government announced a plan to increase uptake of Workfare (the term given to these schemes) by 100,000. They also made changes to the programme they inherited from New Labour as follows:
1. A jobseeker who leaves a placement after 1 week loses their welfare payments for 6 weeks. If they do this a second time, they lose them for 13 weeks. The third time, three years.
2. Placements can be mandated for up to 30 hours a week for as long as 6 months.
3. The scheme has been opened up so corporations in the private sector can exploit this taxpayer funded, forced labour.
This means that someone who finds themselves unemployed must work up to thirty hours a week, for up to six months at a time, stacking shelves for Tesco or Poundland simply to receive as little as £53 per week, which they are already entitled to as part of the social contract of Britain. Also, Tesco isn’t paying the £53; we are, through our taxes.
Although an interview is supposed to be guaranteed at the end of the term, it is not required that the workfare provider has a vacancy open. An interview for a job that doesn’t exist is no interview at all.
Corporations get free labour, the government gets to massage the unemployment figures (Workfare victims are counted as employed) and the unemployed get shafted.
Anyone doubting this critique would do well to read the findings of the DWP’s own analysis of the performance of their work programmes. These schemes cost the taxpayer £5bn, yet only 1 in 10 people found employment lasting up to 3 months. The figures are even worse for the sick and disabled people forced into the work programmes – only 1 in 20 finding lasting employment.
The picture doesn’t get any rosier for those who have managed to find employment either.
Employers are less likely to provide real jobs than ever. As the market favours the employer, there has been an unprecedented month on month fall in wages through the entire 36 months of the Coalition government, and wages were already falling before they arrived.
On top of hidden unemployment, the UK also has an ever growing problem with underemployment; the case of people unable to find jobs with sufficient hours/pay to meet their needs.
A recent paper by researchers at the University of Stirling revealed that underemployment rose from 6.2% in 2008 to 9.9% in 2012. The rate hit 30% among 16 to 24 year olds.
We have also seen the rise of ‘zero hour’ contracts. Almost unheard of a few years ago, more than a million UK workers are now under these contracts. These contracts have no specified working hours – meaning that an employee is placed on permanent stand by until or unless the employer needs them. While classed as employed, the person has no wage security as they cannot guarantee their pay from one week to the next. They also receive no sick pay, leave or other basic terms and conditions.
The Resolution Foundation recently published a review of ‘Zero Hours’ contracts which found serious issues of the spike in their use:
- Those on ‘Zero Hours’ contracts earn less than half the average wage (£236 vs. £482 per week) of those on proper contracts.
- Workplaces using ‘Zero Hours’ contracts have a higher proportion of staff on low pay(within £1.25 of minimum wage) than those who do not.
These factors have allowed the UK Labour Market in recent years to combine a relatively high level of employment and an unprecedented squeeze on wages.
- Those on ‘Zero Hours’ contracts work 10 hours a week less, on average, than those who are not (21hrs – 31hrs).
- 18% of those on ‘Zero Hours’ contracts are seeking alternative employment or more hours versus 7% of those in ordinary contracts
These factors have contributed to the rise in underemployment in the UK since 2008. An ONS survey last year revealed more than 1 million people had been added to the rank of the underemployed since the 2008 bailout of the banks.
- ‘Zero Hours’ contracts are hitting young people the hardest, with 37% of those on such contracts aged between 16-24.
- ‘Zero Hours’ contracts are more likely to be held by those without a degree, and with a GCSE as their highest level of education.
- Non UK Nationals are 15% more likely to be employed on such a contract than UK Nationals.
It is not difficult to see the advantages of ‘Zero Hours’ contracts to employers – they can achieve maximum flexibility of their workforce, effectively retaining them on a pay as you go basis. It is also clear that in the short term, the government of the day also enjoy the advantage of hiding the true effects of their cut throat economic policies. But the ordinary human being seeking to meet the rising cost of living is losing on all counts.
Between 2008 and 2012, inflation rose 17% according to the Consumer Price Index, while incomes increased just 7% – this translates to a real terms pay cut of 10% for working people. But the Consumer Price Index measurement tracks the rising cost of an imaginary list of products and services that the poorest workers are unlikely to ever buy. The UK Essentials Index however tracks inflation of the bare essentials that would the poorest would buy – and these have risen by an eye watering 33% during the same period. This means that not only is the impact of unemployment hitting the country disproportionately, but underemployment and exploitative employment conditions are too – with the poorest being the worst affected.
There was a piece on the Guardian this morning talking about the triple boost to the UK economy of increased factory output, house prices and car sales, and trumpeting this as a sign of economic recovery.
But what is the point of this increased GDP if it is won at the expense of people wages and livelihoods? Surely, if the inequality in the UK between rich and poor is growing, unemployment is rising, underemployment is rising and wages are falling – this is a recession. It speaks volumes for the broken economic measures of growth at play here that a real world recession for the majority, is applauded as a recovery, when all that is recovered are the profits for transnational corporations and incomes of high earners, most of whom pay little or no contributions in tax.
Boycott Workfare – get involved in the campaign to outlaw workfare
UKUncut – get involved in demanding proper tax contributions from those corporations benefitting from these nightmare employment schemes.
DPAC – Disabled People Against Cuts do extraordinary work highlighting the state’s assault on disabled people. Please support them
Source – BS News, 07 Aug 2013