02 August 2010

Unemployment Policy in a Big Society

Government seems to be displaying a lack of joined-up thinking.

Messrs. Cameron and Clegg want us to stay in our jobs for longer, meaning that the number of people in need of work will increase. If we older folks don't leave our jobs, there will be less opportunity for those just starting out to find work. If there is nothing done to increase the number of jobs, this measure will lead to growing unemployment and more claimants for state benefits such as job-seekers allowance.

They want to encourage benefit claimants to work by reducing the value of benefits relative to paid employment, meaning that the number of people in need of work will increase. More people looking for work means that more jobs are needed. If nothing is done to increase the number of jobs, this measure will lead to growing unemployment and a greater burden on charitable organisations trying to support unemployed claimants whose benefits are inadequate.

Somehow, all employers need to be willing to take on more people. That's not very likely, as the last decade or so has seen employers make their dwindling workforce do more work. One way they do that is to not replace us when we leave or retire. So, even if we didn't have to work longer, there would be no extra opportunities for the unemployed to find work...

Public services are being pruned to make them more efficient. For example, the NHS's Primary Care Trusts are being abolished. This will lead to the redundancy of thousands in the PCT sector. The job currently being done by PCTs is being dumped on GPs, who would rather be looking after their patients and so will need to employ other people to do the extra work. Where will they get them from? Ah! Ex-PCT employees! Or some of them at least! We can make them work harder but we'll pay them less. And ourselves more for the extra responsibility we have to carry. The rest can get unemployment benefit... And we don't have to spend the money inside the NHS. Let's try out private health care. That will reduce the burden on the NHS even more, meaning fewer staff are needed. More efficiency savings! Never mind, they can get unemployment benefit.

The Government wants to encourage the 'Big Society', where more people volunteer and exercise greater social concern. Good idea. Because of the government's policies, there will be lots of unemployed people available for looking after many other unemployed people. So maybe the government has got it right, after all...

Question. Who is going to pay for it and how? Presumably, those of us still in work until we're 90 being paid peanuts by GPs.

Messrs. Cameron and Clegg, you have provide an incentive to employ, not just an incentive to work!

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