Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Reasons not to vote Labour #7 (unemployment)

The man who has applied for 4,700 jobs.
The 56-year-old IT professional lost his job at a City investment bank five years ago and has been out of work ever since.

He has applied for 4,700 jobs over the past five years and been invited to just two interviews. Alongside jobs at senior management level and banking he has also applied for taxi driving, warehousing jobs and baggage handling at nearby Stansted Airport.

"I hit rock bottom last year and applied for a job at Harlow crematorium."
More from the Guardian
Forbes is angry when he hears talk of the jobs market recovering. For a start, people like him do not show up in all the statistics. Because of means-testing, a married man like Forbes who has a home and savings, does not draw any benefits. Instead he is working through his savings.
Insurance professional Peter Martin, a 52-year-old father of three, lost his job last November. Ken Holland, a computer security specialist, was made redundant at the end of 2008. Now 51, he too has been living off his savings. "We have been cash cows for the government up to this point and in our hour of need we don't get anything," says Holland.
National Statistics Office tell us that
The employment rate for the three months to February 2010 was 72.1 per cent. The rate was down 0.3 on the quarter and it has not been lower since the three months to October 1996.
The inactivity rate for the three months to February 2010 was 21.5 per cent. The rate has not been higher since the three months to October 2004 and it is up 0.3 on the quarter. The number of inactive people of working age increased by 110,000 over the quarter to reach a record high of 8.16 million. This increase in inactivity was largely driven by the number of students not in the labour market which increased by 71,000 on the quarter to reach 2.30 million.
Here are the charts

Mrs Rigby's family knows the situation only too well. One member of the family lost their job five years ago, was turned away from the JobCentre because their 'partner' was in work, working more than 16 hours a week and earning more than £16k. That Rigby was not even able to get help filling out what they referred to as 'new fangled application forms'. They have done their best, but have not been able to find work since then.

Walking into shops that advertise vacancies they are met with a blankly quizzical stare, that says, "You want to work here?" The application is completed, delivered, and never responded to. That, they think, is the worst. Prospective employers never respond to an applicant, there is nothing, not even if an sae is provided - just a void.

They say that, if unsuccessful, a candidate should contact the employer and ask why. These requests are also ignored, so they have no idea if they're filling in the forms wrong, if they're 'overqualified' or simply unemployable and on the scrap heap.

The out-of-work Rigby thought about retraining, but when they looked at the costs they realised they couldn't afford it - not with the essential belt-tightening the loss of income involved, and the lack of employment opportunities in their home area. So they're stuck, stuck until the savings run out, and until they are forced to sell their home and live off that capital too.

Statistics released this week suggest there are 2.5 million unemployed people in Britain.

Statistics can only count those who are on a list, statistics cannot count those who are not allowed to be on a list.

Those who are not allowed to be listed as unemployed are those not allowed to claim any sort of benefit and also those over 60. University students are not allowed to be unemployed during their vacation, because being a student is counted not being available for work.

We will, perhaps, never know the true scale of the current employment/unemployment situation. What we do know is that Harlow, and also the various towns and villages around Britain where members of the Rigby family live, are hard hit - and few of those out of work have their names on a list, although they may be included in the ONS list for the "economically inactive".

Vote Labour - for even more of the same.

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