Big companies use small charities to win prime contracts from Duncan Smith’s programme. But where’s the proof it works?
Good unemployment figures? Less bad than feared in this longest of recessions, but how good? Of the 65,000 drop in the total, 61,000 were in London, and the Office of National Statistics suggests these are due to 100,000 temporary jobs at the Olympics as bar staff, cleaners and security guards. Meanwhile, the trend for the long-term unemployed trudges inexorably upwards, now to 441,000. Worse is the continuing rise in the young without work, four times higher in a year. The damage done to them over the whole of their rest of their lives is well-documented from the lost generation of the early 1980s who never recovered, in and out of work for life.
Iain Duncan Smith, as ever cavalier with numbers, claimed in the Mail on Sunday that his cap on benefits is driving people into work, before it’s even begun. “These figures show the benefit cap is already a success and is actively encouraging people back to work.” He says 58,000 claimants were sent a letter warning their benefits will be capped next April. Of these 1,700 have since then taken a job. But that’s fewer than 3%, which the Institute for Fiscal Studies says is consistent “with the policy having no effect at all. Over any period, some fraction of an unemployed group will probably move into work.”
But no one really knows, because the Department for Work and Pensions didn’t collect any figures for how many of this group usually moves into work. So Channel 4′s brilliant FactCheck concludes: “His figures don’t show the benefits cap is already successful at getting people back to work.” When challenged, the DWP had to fall back on faith: “The secretary of state believes that the benefits cap is having an effect.” Faith-based policymaking is something he is good at.
Faith is what’s needed for his Work Programme, too: what sort of claims will
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