Tag Archives: unemployment

Government Manages To Manufacture Falling Unemployment Stats, But Not In Birmingham…

Today’s unemployment figures show that the government has failed to manufacture falling unemployment figures in Birmingham and the West Midlands, though they have managed it nationally, with the coup d’etat being the reduction in youth unemployment to under 1million. In Birmingham though, youth unemployment claimant count rose to 14,450 – a rate of 23.4%.

The government uses workfare and other training schemes to reduce the headline unemployment figure (the Labour Force Survey) and increasing numbers of people who are sanctioned are not included in the lower claimant count number. The move to a 4 week minimum, 3 year maximum sanction regime from the 22nd October will further act to reduce the claimant count, by reducing people to destitution.

With unemployment rising in the West Midlands, can we expect to see an increased push to force people into unpaid workfare schemes to claim unemployment is falling? Will we see more pressure put on job centre advisors to sanction claimants? Is this the reality of falling unemployment in Tory Britain today?

Self employment is also rising, but how many of these people are creating sustainable jobs? Have they been advised to sign off Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and fraudulently register as self employed claiming Working Tax Credits? Are they moving to self employment in desperation of not being able to find a job, and being so fed up with living on benefits, and wanting to work, they decide to have a go at it on their own. Around 2/3rds of business fail in their first year.

The fall in figures today has been comprehensively taken apart by Johnny Void, showing that it can be wholly accounted for by these and other statistical games.

Part time work is soaring, and the average numbers of hours worked are down. 69% of the jobs created in the past year have been part time, and this combines with wages rising slower than inflation to leave people with far less spending power than previously. Combined with benefit cuts for those out of work and those on low pay, this effect is multiplied.

Poster available – email BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@Gmail.com to arrange collection/delivery

For the economy as a whole, falling unemployment should be a good thing, but even if the statistics actually represented a fall in employment around the UK, if the amount people earn overall is falling (and with so much part time work it must be), then the amount they can spend – the demand they generate is lower.
This means that when combined with government spending cuts, we will continue to see recession because there will not be the increased demand in the economy you would expect to see from increased employment.

The money that is lost in wages doesn’t just disappear of course. It ends up as profit for a company like Starbucks, who move it offshore in order to avoid paying any tax on it. It will join the £13 trillion stashed away in tax havens by the richest individuals and multinationals on the planet.

So if you think it’s an outrage that the government is so bad at it’s job that it can’t even manage to find a way to claim unemployment is falling in Birmingham, why not go to London on Saturday and join the TUC demonstration for A Future that Works .. and Boycott Workfare for a Future Without Workfare. Free coach spaces for unwaged and low paid people are available from Birmingham.

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Next BATC Meeting – Monday 8th October – Youth Unemployment in Birmingham

Our next organising meeting will be on Monday 8th October and Richard Hatcher will introduce a discussion about youth unemployment, with a talk of around 10 minutes followed by around half an hours discussion. After this will be organising items which will mostly be focused on the 20th October TUC national demonstration in London.

Youth Unemployment
6:30pm, Monday 8th October

Unison Offices, 19th Floor McClaren Tower, Priory Queensway, B4 7LR
Offices have level access and accessible toilets. Children are welcome to our meetings but we cannot provide a creche service, though there is enough space to set up a seperate table from the meeting you will need to bring something for them to do.
If you have any accessibilty needs or questions please contact us by email at BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@gmail.com

UK Youth unemployment graph

Source: Touchstone Economic Dashboard
http://touchstoneblog.org.uk/

Nationally, youth unemployment has risen sharply over the past three years, with over a million people aged 16-24 out of work.
Long term youth unemployment – where people are out of work for more than a year – has risen by 264% in the past year alone, with 60,955 young people long term unemployed in August 2012.

Whilst they are out of work, under-25s get a worse deal than older jobseekers – a lower rate of Jobseeker’s allowance (£56.25/week rather than £71/week), housing benefit limited to a shared house rate and more chance of being forced to work unpaid for private companies with extra schemes operating and a pilot scheme in London which can see young people sent out from the day they sign on.

With workfare the only game in town as far as the DWP are concerned, EMA scrapped, tuition fees raised hugely, colleges losing funding and Connexions only saved from closure through concerted strike action, young people are not getting the support they deserve. It is in this context that Birmingham City Council have launched a youth unemployment commission, which we hope will bring forward policies that will actually create useful jobs, and not just supply free labour to companies under an empty idea that experience is all that is necessary to get work in an economy where 800 people apply for 10 jobs at Costa Coffee in Nottingham.

So what is the picture locally? What do we need to do tackle this problem? Come along to our meeting to discuss this issue.

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Underemployment Soars in The West Midlands

Underemployment – where someone is working part time but looking for full time work – is soaring in the West Midlands, according to a TUC analysis of unemployment in August 2012. There are now 246,000 people in the West Midlands doing part time jobs only because they cannot find full time work or get more hours from their employers.
Nationally, 1.42 million people are in part time work whilst looking for a new full time job, adding a huge amount of competition for jobs for the 2.59 million people who are unemployed. In addition to that, there are almost 2 million people who are trying to get more hours from their employer, reducing the number of jobs that will come onto the market, since employers are more likely to give existing employees more hours rather than create a new post.

Midlands TUC Regional Secretary Rob Johnston said that

Unemployment is a major problem across the west midlands. But this only tells half the story. Nearly a quarter of a million people are trapped in jobs that don’t have enough hours to provide the income they need to get by. Fewer hours mean less pay, and an even bigger struggle to pay the bills.

Young people, women and low skilled workers are bearing the brunt of our under-employment crisis. It is alarming just how few young people today are able to find a job working enough hours. This is a criminal waste of the talent and skills they have – all because of a crisis they didn’t cause.

Solving our under-employment crisis is not easy, and it won’t be tackled through endless unpaid work initiatives.

Underemployment is also a big issue in retail, where zero-hour contracts have become the norm, allowing employers to reduce people’s hours at will. Such jobs are particularly threatened by unpaid labour supplied by government workfare schemes, with many shop workers reporting a loss in hours or overtime as companies take advantage of the free, forced labour produced by workfare.

This growing group of workers will find themselves being punished for the economic conditions that have lead to them being underemployed when Universal Credit comes in to replace existing benefits including working and child tax credits. Under the new scheme – which has been called “unworkable” by government advisors – those who are working part time will need to fulfill similar conditionality regimes to current Job Seekers Allowance claimants, showing that they are doing everything they can to find a full time job or increase their hours. If they cannot show this, then they will face sanctions – potentially for as long as 3 years.
This change comes on top of the loss of up to £4,000/year in tax credits for parents who have been unable to increase their hours from 16 to 24 in order to be able to claim these benefits.

Whilst unemployment figures have been decreasing slightly in the past quarter, this has been matched by a rise in part time work and self-employment. Along with increased training and workfare schemes removing people from the unemployment numbers and sanctions taking people off the claimant count, these falls in unemployment must be viewed with skepticism at best. With austerity failing to reduce the deficit, and producing a double dip recession, now is the time to demand the government changes course and implements alternatives to austerity – useful investments into our economy to create jobs and improve people’s lives. Join us on the streets for the Tory Conference demonstration in Birmingham on Sunday 7th October and in London for the national TUC demonstration on Saturday 20th October.

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Birmingham City Council Launch Birmingham Youth Unemployment Commission

Birmingham City Council have today announced that they will be launching the Birmingham Youth Unemployment Commission, to tackle the problem of youth unemployment in Birmingham. They say the commission will bring together key players from business, education, the third sector and national experts to tackle the city’s youth unemployment.

Birmingham has real issues with youth unemployment, with over 2,500 young people long term unemployed in the city, with inner-city wards reporting as much as 40% rates of long term unemployment amongst young people (long term unemployment is defined as more than 6 months out of work).

Nationally, there are over 1 million young unemployed people, a figure that has risen sharply in the past few years, as school leavers face the worse economic conditions since the great depression, and extreme competition for jobs – earlier this year, when Jaguar expanded their Solihull operations, they had 20,000 applications for the 1,000 jobs. The Hotel La Tour, advertising at a similar time, had 15 applicants for every job.

There is no question that serious action is required to tackle this problem. 15% of NEETs (young people Not in Education, Employment or Training) die within 10 years, and helping these young people is of huge importance.
We hope that the commission will recognise that the biggest barrier to eradicating long term youth unemployment, as Albert Bore claims is the aim, is the state of our economy, and the amount of competition that there is for the small number of available jobs.

Right now the “help” that young people receive is to be sent on workfare placements, doing unpaid jobs for profit making companies, charities and public sector organisations (although we have to say here that we’ve not heard of anyone being sent to Birmingham City Council on a workfare scheme – get in touch with us if you have been, we’d love to know).
This week a new scheme was launched in London what will see 18-24 year olds forced to do unpaid work placements lasting as long as 13 weeks from the day they sign on, if they do not have at least 6 months of work experience already, giving school leavers no opportunity to find work.

Young people are forced to go on the Work Experience Scheme or Sector Based Work Academies, under threat of being sanctioned for between 2 weeks and 6 months – which means not have the money you need for food or to put in the gas meter. Earlier this month, the high court ruled that these schemes are lawful, but opened the door for people to reclaim sanctions in certain circumstances. The rulings are being appealed, and the appeal will take place in October.
Earlier this year, after pressure from campaigners like Boycott Workfare, and high profile internet actions targetting companies who were exploiting this free labour, the government removed sanctions from the Work Experience Scheme, though they have made it clear that anyone refusing will get sent on Mandatory Work Activity instead. Following the court ruling, the government may seek to reinstate sanctions on the work experience scheme.

When we look at the evidence from similar schemes we find that workfare does not help unemployment. Mandatory Work Activity has no effect on unemployment, whilst the Work Programme may actually reduce your chances of finding a job from 28% to 22%. These two schemes are not limited to young people, but many young people have found themselves sent on Mandatory Work Activity, for up to 8 weeks.

When a young person does find a job the chances are they will be an “apprentice”, paid just £2.60 / hr – far below the minimum wage (which is at reduced rates for young people anyway), and just more than a third of a living wage of £7.20/hr. Quite why it is thought a young person needs less money than someone over 25 is not clear. Perhaps it is simply the result of a government of privileged millionaires who have never been financially independent from their parents.
These apprenticeships are not like the apprenticeships of old. They are not designed as training courses to teach young people a trade. You will find apprenticeships in every sector now – 40% of Morrisson’s employees are apprentices, and McDonalds pocketed £10m of taxpayers money on a apprenticeship scheme without creating a single job. Apprenticeships used to be about training young people, building skills and passing knowledge on from one generation to the next. Now they are simply about allowing companies to exploit young people, increase their profit margins and undermine the minimum wage.

Albert Bore has said

We will set a series of targets and programmes, agreed with partners, and will monitor and track delivery. It is our ambition to lead the way in Birmingham for eradicating long term unemployment amongst our young people.

If he wants to have any hope of eradicating long term unemployment amongst young people he will need to think beyond failing workfare schemes or allowing companies to further exploit young people, and towards a more radical approach which recognises that the structures of our economy need to change if everyone is to have a job, and that austerity and cuts in government spending will only reduce the availability of jobs and opportunities for young people.

We’re going to leave the final words to Jamie Chapman & Adam Yosef, and their short poem, “Taught from a Textbook”, performed by Jamie Chapman, about how the current political climate is affecting the opportunities and career goals of young people across the UK.

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Victory at Connexions as Unison Campaign Secures Jobs and Services

Over 100 staff at Connexions had good news yesterday after hearing that Birmingham City Council have backed down and withdrawn the threat of redundancies, stating that there will not be any more cuts to this vital service in the coming financial year. We hope that whoever is in power following the council elections in May will provide a continued commitment to Connexions.

Connexions gives help and advice to young people who are unemployed and are looking for work, college or training. They also help young homeless people, pregnant teenage girls and teenage parents.

UNISON argued all along that to make cuts to this service when youth unemployment is at an all-time high and still rising was morally wrong, reckless and irresponsible and finally Birmingham City Council have listened.

UNISON Convenor Charlie Friel said

This is really good news for our members who been put the emotional wringer by this council for over 18 months. It’s a victory for our members, it’s a victory for common sense and it’s victory for the young people of Birmingham.

Graph shows youth unemployment from 1992 to October 2011 - since October, youth unemployment has continued to rise and in January 2012 was at 22%

We are really pleased to hear this news, which has come about through months of campaigning, multiple strike days and media pressure on the council. At a time when youth unemployment is at record levels, it is madness to close the service which helps young people to find work or training.
Youth unemployment nationally stands at 22%, but with Birmingham having some of the highest areas of unemployment in the UK, and being the youngest city with over 1/3rd of people under 25, it is expected that youth unemployment locally is higher.
Of course, this comes too late to save offices in Handsworth (unemployment: 21.7%), Erdington (unemployment: 12.9%) and Kings Heath (unemployment: 12.5%). We wait to hear if the planned closures of offices in Northfield (unemployment: 10.1%) and Yardley (unemployment: 10.4%) will go ahead.
Unemployment rates are for the parliamentary constituency which the office is in, and the data is taken from this parliamentary report from January 2012. Nationally the unemployment rate is around 8.4%, whilst the average for the 9 Birmingham constituencies is 12.8% – around 50% more than the national average, which suggests youth unemployment may be over 30% locally.

So more good news for 2012. Now we need to work from this to getting commitments the following the local elections, Connexions offices around Birmingham will be re-opened in order to help people in some of the hardest hit parts of the UK to find work and gain new skills.

source for youth unemployment graph

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Kings Heath Connexions Closes As Unemployment Rises

Kings Heath saw the closure of its Connexions office today, the latest in a programme of cuts that has already seen the closure of offices in Handsworth and Erdington, covering two parliamentary constituencies with the highest unemployment rate in the UK.
Offices in Yardley and Northfield will follow suit soon, leaving just a single office on Broad Street in the city centre to cover the whole of Birmingham’s young peoples’ needs for career and training advice.
Connexions will no longer be in schools either, it will be down to the schools to find money in their budgets to pay for careers advice for their pupils – an example of how this government is squeezing schools budgets whilst still maintaining that they are not cutting funding.

The latest office closure came just the day before the latest unemployment figures were announced with over unemployment rising nationally by 118,000 people, to 2.6 million.
In the West Midlands, the unemployment rate is now 9.2%, and amongst youth that figure is higher.

Over 1,000,000 young people are looking for work at the moment, and in Birmingham, the service which has helped them to find work and training is being closed.
This kind of cut is madness. Unemployment is rising, so we close the services that help people to find work and training, and instead send them on workfare “work experience” schemes that provide free labour for large businesses.

It’s time to end the cuts, and implement the alternatives to austerity. Invest in our economy, create real jobs and growth, to end the deficit and ensure that people do not pay for the bankers gambling habits.

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Welfare bill soars as coalition counts cost of austerity drive

Welfare bill soars as coalition counts cost of austerity drive

 

A Guardian article today reveals that the welfare bill has soared in cost, following rises in unemployment.

This highlights the fallacy of the underlying economic argument that the coalition government follows – that by reducing spending, we can reduce the deficit.

In fact, any reduction in the deficit is likely to be offset by rising welfare costs and falling as the economy fails to grow, and quite likely moves back into recession.

 

Why cuts are the wrong cure – False Economy website page with articles and explanations for further reading on the wider economic implications cuts

 

 

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