Conservative unemployment and growth statistics.
Why you only need to scratch the surface to find the figures misleading.
So after listening to Prime Ministers questions, It seems the Tories are very proud of their unemployment figures currently sitting at 5.7%, with 97,000 more people in work over the last 3 months. This has led to lots of pompous posturing from the Conservatives about their ability to handle the economy, and was reiterated in nearly every answer David Cameron gave.
“It’s this government that has the strong and growing economy, and I note, question 4, and still not a welcome for the unemployment figures!”
The method to calculate unemployment figures, measures the number of people claiming benefits or JSA (Job seekers allowance).This recording of unemployed people changed during the infamous reign of Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher; instead of those ‘registered’ unemployed, this changed to only count ‘claimants’ – this obviously reduced the number greatly as many unemployed people do not, for various reasons, claim benefits.
But I think the most constant shady practice from the Tories is the manipulation of statistics, for example, the Conservatives sickening attempt to redefine child poverty; after the Institute of Fiscal Studies forecasted this number would increase from 2.3, to 2.5 million children living in households 60% lower than the national average. This becomes particularly disingenuous when you take into consideration the manifesto promise “We have the right measures in place to drive real change to tackle the root causes of poverty”. When it comes to unemployment, the conservatives can simply cut the number of people able to claim JSA’s and benefits, thus making the ‘statistics’ believable that there is far more people in work.
The despicable practice of Iain Duncan Smith (Secretary for Work and Pensions) and his ilk , oversaw the new welfare reform bill, which included the useless universal credit program, and also administered the introduction of sanctions and the benefit cap; bearing in mind that people who were then sanctioned, suddenly slipped off the unemployment statistics.
The benefit cap also coincided with tougher fit-to-work schemes, this is used by the government to effectively force people in to work, most distressingly is the disabled people who have been hounded by this government under the contractor ‘Atos’. Worth mentioning that since Iain Duncan Smiths involvement in welfare, 2380 people have died after their claim for employment and support allowance (ESA) ended because a work capability assessment (WCA) found they were found fit for work.
Finally the issue of Zero hour contracts, probably the best example of why these unemployment figures should be scrutinised. The Conservative party’s official line on zero hour contracts is that with a free flowing market, employers should be able to offer contracts with intermittent hours, rather than a fixed number. Now this may be useful for working in bars or fast food restaurants as a student (an argument actually used by David Cameron in a Paxman interview in the run up to the last election) or an aspiring musician needing some work on the side, but this hardly supports anyone trying to build a life for themselves. Imagine not knowing whether you’ll be able to afford rent by the end of the month, let alone feeding yourself, your family, or save any money. These contracts have been adopted by a majority of big businesses hiring low skilled employees.
Recently there has been controversy over ‘Sports Direct’ with 72% of staff on zero contracts earning below the living wage, and being fired (under a 6 strike rule) for taking time off sick, or using the toilet for too long. This along with the restrictions of workers unions, who defend employment rights, shows the all-out attack on the working class of the UK, and why there is no cause for celebration on the recent employment figures.
On a finishing note I think the most important point I can make, is that with the economy growth up to 2.4% at the end of this year, with unemployment figures at 5.7%; the gap between the richest and poorest is still growing, the richest 1,000 families control a total of £547bn, rising by more than 112% since 2009, and own more than the poorest 40% of British households.
So basically, the recent growth in wealth means sod all to most of us, if the majority of wealth ends up in the hands of a tiny minority, and the employment figures represent poor people being forced to work in diminishing conditions.