Wednesday, 17 December 2008

LEAP comment on rising unemployment

New unemployment figures released today show that those claiming Jobseeker's Allowance rose to over one million, with the claimant count growing at its fastest rate for nearly 18 years. As Graham Turner points out below, this figure is likely to be even higher once the benefit office backlog is cleared. ILO unemployment rose to 1.86 million - an unemployment rate of 6%.

John McDonnell MP, LEAP Chair, said:

"Rising unemployment will have disastrous consequences, ravaging communities and destroy hope for individual lives.

"Today's figures show that Brown and Darling's package is not working. The banks are still not co-operating, and we should nationalise them now.

"Instead of attacking and stigmatising those out of work, we need a huge capital investment programme of public works to create jobs - including on rail, alternative energy and council housing."

Graham Turner said:

"The claimant count accelerated up sharply in November. The October figure was revised up from 36.5k to 51.8k. This has been a persistent pattern since the labour market started to deteriorate. The lack of staff in benefit offices due to ‘efficiency drives’ means not all the claimants are processed in time. And the backlog appears to be growing.

"The upward revision for October was the largest yet. That suggests November could be nudged up significantly, even though it was already the biggest rise since March 1991. And predictions of a rise in unemployment [on the ILO measure] to 3 million look more than realistic."

Download Graham's briefing on UK unemployment in full.

It's worth noting that since 2004, the DWP has sacked 30,000 staff in 'efficiency savings'. In November 2008, the Secretary of State James Purnell announced that DWP would be hiring an additional 6,000 staff to work in Jobcentre Plus . . . See PCS's take on today's unemployment figures

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