Creating jobs or creative accounting?
You will have seen Tory boasts that unemployment is coming down, a million more people are now in work and the private sector has created many of these, but dig below the surface and we see a very different story.
I met a man in Parkfield, Stockton last week who told me he had a full time job but was made redundant. He has finally found work, 12 hours a week in Debenhams, and has been removed from the claimant figures. It might be a job, but it’s not full-time work and isn’t economically viable.
Last month I met a man in Thornaby who has just found work one day a week in a community centre in Co Durham where amongst other things he has to fundraise to pay his own wages; he was full time too before he was laid off and this part-time job won’t keep him and his wife either, but he too has been removed from the jobless figures.
However, it still gives our Tory MP and his party the chance to produce another graph showing how well everyone is now doing in our area.
But the sleight of hand doesn’t just end with people in part-time work or indeed on zero hour contracts where they have to hope they are called to work in any given week, or sent home during the day to match the work-flow.
The Government have also admitted that those on unpaid work experience are included in their reduction in unemployment figures.
In 2012 in answer to a Parliamentary question, Tom Blenkinsop MP (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) discovered that:
The ONS collects information on people participating in government-supported employment and training programmes via the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The information includes the name of the programme and the type of activity being undertaken. Those participants whose activity comprises any form of work, work experience or work-related training are classified as in employment. This regardless of whether the individual is paid or not.
So the despised Workfare scheme is giving the Tories the opportunity to say they are getting people back to work; cue another graph!
Then we come to Government declarations that there have been at least a million new jobs created in the private sector.
I am guessing you thought these were new jobs, that would be a reasonable assumption wouldn't it? Sadly not.
This figures includes hundreds of thousands of people who were already in work but whose jobs have been essentially privatised.
My friend, Carolyne Kershaw who is an LMI consultant has found some interesting examples which show a straight reclassification of jobs transferred from the public to the private sector but then included as new jobs in the workplace.
She describes for example how from June 2012, some 196,000 people employed by further and sixth form colleges were reclassified from the public to the private sector.
These are part of Cameron’s million new jobs.
She also points out that following the nationalisation of Northern Rock in October 2007, employees jobs were transferred to the public sector. Remaining employees have since been reclassified back to the private sector following the sale to Virgin in December 2011. These latter – several thousand at least- will also show as part of the million plus new jobs the Government claims to have created.
These are just two examples which show how the claim cannot be trusted. There are sure to be others which I would love to hear about if you discover them before me.
So next time you hear from the Coalition about how great things are, how we have never seen so many people in work and how the private sector has created a huge number of jobs, you should engage with a healthy degree of scepticism.
The reality on the streets of Stockton South is proving very different.