Unemployed claimants go missing from today's figures - sanctions to blame?

Wed, 13/11/2013 - 14:30 -- nick

Last week the DWP finally released its figures for sanctions, and these showed a huge rise in people being thrown off benefits in the last year to 870,000, an average of more than 72,000 each month.

These are real people having their meagre incomes removed often for the most spurious reasons and disappearing from view.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) today released its latest unemployment figures, and it is interesting and instructive to try to marry the two sets of numbers.

The ONS shows a fall of 41,000 in the number claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) in the last three months, but a large proportion of these people are likely to have gone not into work, but into a sanctions-driven zero-income life which will force them into poverty and perhaps even crime.

Not an outcome that anyone should have to face.

While most politicians and economists were welcoming the fall in worklessness, at UnemployedNet we aren't sure that what is being presented is quite so positive.

Figures buried deep in the latest ONS report appear to show an interesting contradiction; on page 24 it states that, comparing groups eligible for JSA "unemployment fell by 35,000 and the claimant count fell by 104,000, between April to June 2013 and July to September 2013."

In other words, three times as many people have disappeared from the claimant count of those receiving JSA in the last three months as from the overall unemployment figures.

You would expect this to be the other way round; everyone counted as a claimant is also unemployed.

The explanation may well come in the way sanctions are presented by advisors, as effectively a 'ban' on unemployment.

The headline unemployment figure is gathered by surveying households.

Those who have been sanctioned may not report as unemployed, believing that their unemployed status starts again when they are allowed to claim again.

Make no mistake, those people are unemployed and are likely to be looking for work, they just aren't showing up in the government's figures.

Finding ways of excluding people from these statistics regardless of the suffering they experience or their real status is a terrible way of massaging them to show success that isn't really being achieved.

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