Cameron to end youth unemployment by stopping counting them

Mon, 29/09/2014 - 14:29 -- nick

David Cameron's government has shown itself to be one of the most anti-unemployed in living memory.

Between bedroom taxes, benefit caps and cuts, official food bank referrals followed by denials, sanctions targets, negative - and entirely misleading - rhetoric describing workless people as shirkers and worse, it is no exaggeration to describe it as being defined by a hatred of the jobless.

We wrote last week about a policy being implemented in an Italian town, in which local workless people were being offered English lessons followed by plane tickets to leave and find work in another country.

Given the stance of the Tories, we wondered if they might be tempted to implement this in the UK.

Well, the party conference is on right now, and, as they do, events have overtaken us.

Cameron has announced two new policies, apparently with the aim of 'ending youth unemployment'.

The first is to ban them from receiving housing benefit until they are 21 years old, a bizarre idea suggestive of a belief that there is no such thing as an irresolvable family background, and that all young people - including presumably those who are orphans and those who have left care - have fine family homes they can live in.

The second is to ban them from receiving jobseeker's allowance after six months.

If the aim is to make it appear that youth unemployment has been ended, this is likely to be very effective.

What better way to reduce this head count than to stop counting?

While this policy would bring down the number of claimants, the wider unemployment rate should in theory be unaffected.

This is calculated through the Labour Market Survey, conducted under International Labour Organisation (ILO) rules, which contacts people to ask them about their current employment status.

It is doubtful though whether young people who are already distanced from work, distanced from benefits and from the services that come with them, are going to show up on the radars of the ILO.

Young people who find themselves unemployed would no doubt benefit from better careers advice in schools, from better work preparation, from a joining up of services they use, and an improvement in specialised support.

This latest Tory policy is likely to be as successful as the Italian town in showing a fall in youth unemployment.

It is likely to be as unsuccessful in actually reducing it.