The Coalition vs. Unemployment

It has been just over a year since Chancellor George Osborne’s spending review announced extensive spending cuts to the government’s budget. In the year that has followed one of the biggest victims of the spending review are those out of work.

Figures published last month put the national rate of unemployment at 8.1%.The claimant count, the number of people out of work and claiming benefits, rose 17,500 to 1.6 million in September. Other figures showed a record cut in the number of part-time workers, down by 175,000, and there was also a record reduction of 74,000 in the number of over-65s in employment.

 

However, those bearing the brunt of the government’s spending cuts are the 16-24 year olds. Youth unemployment currently stands at one million; a rate of 21.3%. Whilst more jobs have indeed been created in the private sector, more public sector jobs have been lost, and the redundancies have somehow been overshadowed by the new jobs. However, it is within the public sector that the most flexible employment is available, which is particularly appealing to young people.

 

The North of the country is the area that has suffered the most, particularly the North West. In Manchester, 2,000 jobs are being cut from the City Council.  In addition to this, there are now 82, 310 who are claiming job seeker’s allowance in the city, a figure that has steadily risen 10.5% year on year. One of the main reasons behind the cuts was to encourage employment, though this has not yet come to fruition.

 

Figures like this are a far cry from the days of 1% unemployment in 1955, and the very notion of full employment now seems absurd. The fact is, with very weak economic growth it’s becoming more and more difficult to see how the government’s plan is going to going to create jobs and fruitful economy.

 

The government is hoping that unemployed people are able to use their skills to start up their own businesses and become self-employed. However, when well-known companies such as Argos are seeing a decline in profits, many people will be discouraged from going into enterprise since the market is very unpredictable, but seems to be in general decline.

 

Jobs are scarce, and people are clutching at straws by applying for anything and everything. Just last week, the Royal Mail announced that they have been inundated with Christmas job applications. More than 80,000 responses have been received for 18,000 seasonal positions at Royal Mail sorting offices – up from 70,000 applicants last year. A Communication Workers Union spokeswoman said: “Unemployment levels are awful right now and we’re not at all surprised that 80,000 people have applied for the Christmas vacancies.” However, seasonal Christmas jobs will only offer temporary respite to the public, since the jobs end in early January next year.

 

It is clear that more jobs, not just those in the private sector, are urgently required to get people back to work and less reliant on state benefits.

Written by Graham Murray

 

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