Next coalition unemployment policy - pay them to leave?

Wed, 24/09/2014 - 14:34 -- nick

The Tory-led coalition has introduced a raft of anti-unemployed policies since 2010.

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 one of the most virulently poor-bashing governments in living memory.

Many have pointed out that a group of Oxbridge millionnaires from private school backgrounds was always unlikely to feel much affinity with unemployed people, and their austerity drive emphasises their idea that money is the centre of all things.

Given these circumstances an idea from Sardinia in Italy should appeal to the coalition greatly.

Elmas, a town near the island's capital Cagliari, has youth unemployment of more than 50% and an economy with serious problems.

Its mayor, a man called Valter Piscedda, has hit on a novel idea for overcoming this issue.

He is using public funds to pay for ten young local workless people to take English lessons, then paying for flights to enable them to look for work abroad.

“This is above all an idea born of common sense and experience,” he told the Guardian. “Over the past year and a half – especially in the past few months – I have been receiving young people almost every day who are despairing about their search for work. Some are looking here, and ask for a hand in finding it here. Others have tried everything and are so discouraged that they no longer want to stay and wait. And they want to go and gain [work] experience abroad, life experience too.

“So, my reasoning was this: put everything in place that the council administration can put in place so that those who want to gain experience abroad are able to.”

The choice of English as an international language may be an unnecessary add-on if this was implemented in the UK.

But it isn't hard to imagine Iain Duncan Smith seeing an opportunity here, perhaps providing German lessons and plane tickets to those unemployed for more than two years as a way of getting the jobless rate down further.

The contempt his party has shown for the workless makes the process of selling this policy easy to understand; what better solution to a problematic group of UK residents, they would say, than to offer them all the chance to pursue their lives somewhere else?

The Tories have been trumpeting their success in reducing unemployment, and the regular reductions in the overall rate are undeniable.

But this has been achieved through a growth in self-employment - unemployment in all but name for many with average earnings now far below the minimum wage - and zero-hours contracts, as well as a reduction in pay for most people rather than widespread economic growth.

The government is not keen to encourage people to look into these figures too closely lest they understand how they have been arrived at, exposing the 'jobs miracle' as the more complex situation it is.

Of course. no Tory minister has yet come out in favour of the Sardinian policy.

The contempt they have shown for unemployed people over the last four years means only a fool would bet against them supporting it in future.