Unemployment figures are not what Dyson claims
Well, Ruth Dyson says the unemployment benefit figures are at a 28 year year low, with just over 20,000 people getting it now
She's right. This post attempts to explain why - and where the other unemployed are on the benefit system.
Much has been made of the transfer of unemployed onto sickness and invalids benefits, and ther are a lot of them. Yet of all the people who transferred from the unemployment benefit to other benefits up to June this year, nearly half of them transferred to training benefits. A training benefit is an unemployement benefit for those that supposed to be training full time while getting the dole.
So while Dyson may say that 20,000 people are on the dole, papers released under the Official Information Act show that more than 20,000 transferred from the dole to training benefits alone in the last year, and more than half of these were under the age of 25. This means that there are many more people on an unemployment benefit-its just that they are not on the dole. Some go on the dole and before the end of the week they are on a training benefit, and that is counted on Dyson's 141,000 figure when she says "Over 141,000 have come off this benefit" since 1999 - when 160,000 were on the unemployment benfit and training benefits didn`t exist as a functioning benefit.
Training benefits are like a waiting list for the waiting list.
They are a key reason why youth unemployment is so low. The Government do not include those who are collecting the dole on training benefits in these figures.
Furthermore, the MSD is attempting to transfer as many people on to training benfits as they can, to cut down the dole figure, and I have that on authority of someone who is specifically employed to ensure case managers do just that. However he smiled when I asked if all trainees in reciept of a benefit were transferred back to the unemployment benefit after training, meaning that some people may well be on training benefits even though their training is finished. But according to my Official Information Act response, the MSD is unable to advise how many people transferred from training benefits to other benefits. The Ombudsmen has followed this up, but the MSD still won't say why they are unable to provide figures.
There are also hundreds of unemployment beneficiaries who are on a suspended benefit or stand-down for various reasons, some dubious, meaning that they are not included in Dyson's 20,000 figure either as they are not "receiving a benefit".
Finally, anyone who has been on a benefit for a few months were entitled to a job plus subsidy up til June 2006. This is a subsidy that is given to employers to employ a job seeker off the benefit. Yet just 9,184 employers got job subsidies - for employing beneficiaries who recieved all manner of benefits - last year.Yet 83,000 unemployment benefits were cancelled last year - because thousands enrol for the benefit for short times in between jobs or study.
So the MSD can't claim that unemployment is low because Work and Income are increasingly getting people jobs, as this 9184 figure is the lowest since 2002 by a long shot.