Failing youth jobs scheme championed by Nick Clegg scrapped

Mike Sivier:

No comment necessary, I hope.

Originally posted on alittleecon:

From the FT (subscription required):

“The coalition’s flagship programme to tackle youth unemployment is to be wound up early, amid claims that it has been an abject failure.

The £1bn youth contract wage incentive scheme was championed by Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister, at the height of the recession as a way to help tackle youth unemployment. But with the jobs market rapidly improving and take-up of the programme falling substantially below projected levels, it is to be cut short next month.

Under the scheme employers were offered £2,275 if they provided a six-month “job start” for someone aged under 25.

But in the first year of the scheme up to May 2013 only 4,690 recruits completed their placements, against a target of 160,000 for the entire programme.

The scheme was supposed to last for three years from April 2012. But the Department for Work and…

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Welfare reform and the “jobs miracle”

Mike Sivier:

Claims that Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘welfare reform’ has created a ‘jobs miracle’ are thoroughly debunked in this article, reposted from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

Originally posted on glynismillward189:

Reposted from the National Institute of Economic & Social Research

Now, we all know how IDS and Gidiot love their stats, maybe they should read this …

The recent performance of the UK labour market since the financial crisis has astonished almost everyone. Employment did not fall nearly as much as might have been expected, given the size of the contraction, and the subsequent period of stagnation.  And when it started growing again it grew much faster than expected.  The overall employment rate is now back more or less at its previous peak (in early 2005) and may well rise even further.

What explains this?  Most analysis so far has focused on both the upsides and downsides of the flexible labour market that labour market and welfare reforms have created over the past 30 years, under governments of both parties.    Lots of jobs are being created and unemployment is much…

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“This is now deemed a radical economic plan in this age of neo-liberal Groupthink”

Mike Sivier:

After I piped up earlier today saying Balls’s ideas seemed sensible enough, here’s an economist to put a torpedo straight through them. I have to admit that a lot of this is hard for a non-economist to understand and Mr Mitchell’s words could benefit from a few footnotes, but it is still well worthwhile to see what an economist thinks of this Labour Shadow Chancellor’s position. I have no idea what Mr Mitchell’s political persuasion may be.

Originally posted on alittleecon:

Pre-empting the release of today’s growth figures (which showed GDP is now above its 2008 peak*), Ed Balls penned and article for The Guardian in which he warned against complacency and made the case for Labour’s own ‘radical’ economic plans. Here’s economist Bill Mitchell’s response to Balls’ article. He’s not too impressed:

This is now deemed a radical economic plan in this age of neo-liberal Groupthink

After berating the Conservatives for failing to deliver rising living standards given that “working people are worse off with wages after inflation down by more than £1,600 a year since 2010″ and “business investment is lagging behind our competitors, apprenticeships for young people are falling, and our export growth since 2010 is sixth in the G7″, Balls rejects what he calls the ‘trickle down’ tax cuts for the rich Tory strategy.

Balls concluded that:

“While the Tories claim all we need is one…

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Compulsory treatment and benefit sanctions: stoking fear and prejudice for political ends

Mike Sivier:

This is well worth reading, as it provides welcome information on the way politicians use the media to manipulate public opinion.

Originally posted on Sectioned:

Benefits Street

Benefits Street arrived on the iPads of Telegraph readers on Saturday night. A story about scroungers refusing help to get back on their feet and the Conservative party’s proposed “tough love” solution provoked strong reactions. And that’s no surprise.

People with mental health problems who are unable to work and dependent on state support were led to believe that payments would be docked if they refused treatment. This would effectively make state-sanctioned treatment compulsory on pain of losing your only source of income. Telegraph readers were fed the line that people with common mental health problems were willfully refusing to engage with treatments almost guaranteed to succeed just so that they could lounge about at taxpayers’ expense; but reassured that the Tories had proposed a simple and cost-effective solution (sanctions and compulsory treatment) to get people back to work.

Although at first glance the story might follow a coherent line…

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Council boss gets £25,000 pay rise while lowest paid offered two per cent

Originally posted on UNEMPLOYED IN TYNE & WEAR:

A council chief executive’s pay has rocketed 25 per cent in two years whilst its lowest paid workers have been offered two per cent, prompting calls for more scrutiny on top public sector pay.

The head of Hambleton District Council, Phillip Morton, was taken on in 2012 at £100,000 and is now earning £125,000 after management restructuring.

Previously the North Yorkshire authority had shared the chief executive role and senior management team with neighbouring Richmondshire District Council under its money-saving, shared services agreement.

But when the shared chief executive left, the two councils re-established their own management teams.

Although Mr Morton’s salary is amongst the lowest for chief executives in the North-East and North Yorkshire, the timing of the rise has been criticised, with many tax payers struggle to afford essentials with the cost of living crisis.

A Hambleton District Councillor, who this week tried to raise the…

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Shameless – Workfare Exploiting Charities Slam The Benefit Sanctions They Are Responsible For

Mike Sivier:

Shameless is exactly the right word for this. Relevant addresses are at the bottom of the article if you would like to make your opinions known.

Originally posted on the void:

times-letter-sanctionsIn an act of breath-taking hypocrisy, the Salvation Army, along with the YMCA, have both signed a letter to The Times calling the current benefit sanctioning regime unfair and counter-productive.

This comes despite both organisations being involved in ‘Mandatory Work Activity’ and therefore responsible for reporting unemployed people to the Jobcentre to face sanctions if they don’t turn up for unpaid work placements.

The Salvation Army has even been praised by the DWP for ‘holding the line’ on workfare after scores of charities distanced themselves from the scheme. When peaceful anti-workfare campaigners visited the Salvation Army in protest at their use of workfare, the charity locked them inside and attempted to have them arrested with fabricated stories of staff being man-handled.

The Salvation Army have repeatedly defended their involvement in mandatory welfare-to-work provision and also their operation of a Work Programme sub-contract. Claimants on this scheme, including those on out…

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Tory MP believes astrology should be incorporated into medicine

Mike Sivier:

And this is a member of the political organisation that reckons the country is safe in its hands! You couldn’t make it up, could you?

Originally posted on alittleecon:

Just noticed this story on the BBC News website and had a bit of a wtf moment. David Tredinnick spoke of his belief in astrology after 20 years of study saying:

“I am absolutely convinced that those who look at the map of the sky for the day that they were born and receive some professional guidance will find out a lot about themselves and it will make their lives easier,”

This story would be merely amusing were it for the fact that Tredinnick is a member both the health and science and technology select committees, responsible for examining government policy and making recommendations about future changes.

So now we have both a Health Secretary who believes in the efficacy of homeopathy, and a health select committee member who believes in astrology and thinks it could have medical benefits. Scientists of the world weep! At least we’ve got rid…

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Bailiffs try to evict cancer sufferer from his home, 200 strangers turn up to stop them

Originally posted on Metro:

This might just restore your faith in humanity.

A cancer sufferer being evicted from his home after 25 years made a desperate YouTube appeal for help – and 200 strangers turned up at his door.

Well-wishers arrived at the Carlton, Nottinghamshire, home of Tom Crawford after he promised them ‘a lovely cup of tea’ in return for their help if they would come and join a peaceful protest against bailiffs.

In a video appeal from July 2, the 63-year-old, who has prostate cancer, explained that he had paid off his mortgage but that the now-defunct bank Bradford and Bingley claimed he owed them £43,000 in repayments – which a judge ordered he must have paid by 9am yesterday.

(Picture: SWNS)

Mr Crawford called the support ‘amazing’ (Picture: SWNS)

‘It may only be a small bungalow, but it is my bungalow, my land, my home. After 19 years of paying off the mortgage I received a letter saying I would…

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Jobs for the boys – and a possible conflict of interest – in new government contract


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[Image: Ktemoc Konsiders -]

[Image: Ktemoc Konsiders -

The Coalition government has named the company that is to carry out its new programme to discourage people from claiming incapacity benefits - and, like all Coalition decisions, it is a disaster.

The contract for the new Health and Work Service in England and Wales will be delivered by Health Management Ltd – a MAXIMUS company.

This is triply bad for the United Kingdom.

Firstly, MAXIMUS is an American company so yet again, British taxpayers’ money will be winging its way abroad to boost a foreign economy, to the detriment of our own.

Next, MAXIMUS is already a Work Programme provider company in the UK. The Work Programme attempts to shoehorn jobseekers – including people on incapacity benefits – into any employment that is available, with the companies involved paid according to the results they achieve (on the face of it. In fact, it has been proved that the whole system is a scam to funnel taxpayers’ money into the hands of private firms as profit, whether they’ve done the work or not). Health and Work, on the other hand, is a strategy to slow the number of people claiming incapacity benefits with an assessment system – think ‘Work Capability Assessment’ designed to fast-track sicknote users back to their jobs.

We know from the government’s original press release that it has failed to reach its target for clearing people off incapacity benefit, so it seems that Health and Work has been devised to make more profit for MAXIMUS by ensuring that it can claim fees, not only for the number of incapacity benefit claimants it handles on the Work Programme, but also for the number of employees it ensures will NOT claim incapacity benefits.

It’s a win-win situation for the company and a clear conflict of interest – logically the firm will concentrate on whichever activity brings it the most UK government money. MAXIMUS may claim there are ‘Chinese walls’ to prevent any corruption, such as one activity being carried out by a subsidiary, but this must be nonsense. MAXIMUS will do what is best for MAXIMUS.

Thirdly, we have a new layer of bureacracy to torture sick people who only want peace and quiet in order to get better. Look at what Vox Political had to say about the scheme when it was announced in February:

“‘The work-focused occupational health assessment will identify the issues preventing an employee from returning to work and draw up a plan for them, their employer and GP, recommending how the employee can be helped back to work more quickly.’

Health doesn’t get a look-in.

“No, what we’re most probably seeing is an expansion of the “biopsychosocial” method employed in work capability assessments, in an attempt to convince sick people that their illnesses are all in their minds. Don’t expect this approach to be used for people with broken limbs or easily-medicated diseases; this is for the new kinds of ‘subjective illness’, for which medical science has not been prepared – ‘chronic pain’, ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’, fibromyalgia and the like.

“People with these conditions will probably be sent back to work – with speed. Their conditions may worsen, their lives may become an unending hell of pain and threats – I write from experience, as Mrs Mike spent around two years trying to soldier on in her job before finally giving up and claiming her own incapacity benefits – but that won’t matter to the DWP as long as they’re not claiming benefits.”

That previous article was wrong, in fact. There is a health angle to this.

It is a plan to stitch us all up.

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Do YOU feel as prosperous as you were before the crisis?


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[Image: David Symonds for The Guardian, in February this year.]

[Image: David Symonds for The Guardian, in February this year.]

Britain has returned to prosperity, with the economy finally nudging beyond its pre-crisis peak, according to official figures.

Well, that’s a relief, isn’t it? Next time you’re in the supermarket looking for bargains or mark-downs because you can’t afford the kind of groceries you had in 2008, you can at least console yourself that we’re all doing better than we were back then.

The hundreds of thousands of poor souls who have to scrape by on handouts from food banks will, no doubt, be bolstered by the knowledge that Britain is back on its feet.

And the relatives of those who did not survive Iain Duncan Smith’s brutal purge of benefit claimants can be comforted by the thought that they did not die in vain.


NO! Of course not! Gross domestic product might be up 3.1 per cent on last year but it’s got nothing to do with most of the population! In real terms, you’re £1,600 per year worse-off!

The Conservatives who have been running the economy since 2010 have re-balanced it, just as they said they would – but they lied about the way it would be re-balanced and as a result the money is going to the people who least deserve it; the super-rich and the bankers who caused the crash in the first place.

You can be sure that the mainstream media won’t be telling you that, though.

Even some of the figures they are prepare to use are enough to cast doubt on the whole process. The UK economy is forecast to be the fastest-growing among the G7 developed nations according to the IMF (as reported by the BBC) – but our export growth since 2010 puts us below all but one of the other G7 nations, according to Ed Balls in The Guardian.

And it is exports that should be fuelling the economy, according to JML chairman John Mills in the Huffington Post. He reckons the government needs to invest in manufacturing and achieve competitive exchange rates in order to improve our export ability.

“Since most international trade is in goods and not in services, once the proportion of the economy devoted to producing internationally tradable goods drops below about 15 per cent, it becomes more and more difficult to combine a reasonable rate of growth and full employment with a sustainable balance of payments position,” he writes.

“In the UK, the proportion of GDP coming from manufacturing is now barely above 10 per cent. Hardly surprising then that we have not had a foreign trade surplus balance since 1982 – over thirty years ago – while our share of world trade which was 10.7 per cent in 1950 had fallen by 2012 to no more than 2.6 per cent.”

All of this seems to be good business sense. It also runs contrary to successive governments’ economic policies for the past 35 years, ever since the neoliberal government of Margaret Thatcher took over in 1979.

As this blog has explained, Thatcher and her buddies Nicholas Ridley and Keith Joseph were determined to undermine the confidence then enjoyed by the people who actually worked for a living, because it was harming the ability of the idle rich – shareholders, bosses… bankers – to increase their own undeserved profits; improvements in working-class living standards were holding back their greed.

In order to hammer the workers back into the Stone Age, they deliberately destroyed the UK’s manufacturing and exporting capability and blamed it on the unions.

That is why we have had a foreign trade deficit since 1982. That is why our share of world trade is less than one-third of what it was in 1950 (under a Labour government, notice). That is why unemployment has rocketed, even though the true level goes unrecognised as governments have rigged the figures to suit themselves.

(The current wheeze has the government failing to count as unemployed anyone on Universal Credit, anyone on Workfare/Mandatory Work Activity and anyone who whose benefit has been sanctioned – among many other groups – for example.)

You may wish to argue that the economy is fine – after all, that’s what everybody is saying, including the Office for National Statistics.

Not according to Mr Mills: “The current improvement in our economic performance, based on buttressing consumer confidence by boosting asset values fuelled by yet more borrowing, is all to unlikely to last.”

(He means the housing bubble created by George Osborne’s ‘Help to Buy’ scheme will burst soon, and then the economy will be right up the creek because the whole edifice is based on more borrowing at a time when Osborne has been claiming he is paying down the deficit.)

Ed Balls has got the right idea – at least, on the face of it. In his Guardian article he states: “We are not going to deliver a balanced, investment-led recovery that benefits all working people with the same old Tory economics,” and he’s right.

“Hoping tax cuts at the very top will trickle down, a race to the bottom on wages, Treasury opposition to a proper industrial strategy, and flirting with exit from the European Union cannot be the right prescription for Britain.” Right again – although our contract with Europe must be renegotiated and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement would be a disaster for the UK if we signed it.

But none of that affects you, does it? It’s all too far away, controlled by people we’ve never met. That’s why Balls focuses on what a Labour government would do for ordinary people: “expanding free childcare, introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax, raising the minimum wage and ending the exploitative use of zero-hours contracts. We need to create more good jobs and ensure young people have the skills they need to succeed.”

And how do the people respond to these workmanlike proposals?

“You intend to continue the Tories’ destructive ‘austerity’ policies.”

“The economy isn’t fixed but you broke it.”

There was one comment suggesting that all the main parties are the same now, which – it has been suggested – was what Lynton Crosby told David Cameron to spread if he wanted to win the next election.

Very few of the comments under the Guardian piece have anything to do with what Balls actually wrote; they harp on about New Labour’s record (erroneously), they conflate Labour’s vow not to increase borrowing with an imaginary plan to continue Tory austerity policies… in fact they do all they can to discredit him.

Not because his information is wrong but because they have heard rumours about him that have put them off.

It’s as if people don’t want their situation to improve.

Until we can address that problem – which is one of perception – we’ll keep going around in circles while the exploiters laugh.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Buy Vox Political books!
Health Warning: Government! is now available
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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
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