Sunday, 23 August 2009

Playing with figures

The unemployed have enough to worry about without being made to feel guilty; but the Sunday Express quotes "Westminster sources" (must be true, then) that "Rising unemployment will send the welfare benefits bill rocketing by £7.5billion a year." And "It means every household in Britain faces a bill equivalent to £3,425 a year to pay for the growing army of the unemployed." (Does that include unemployed households?)
The problem with all this throwing about of figures is that nobody is sure what's included. "Recent figures from the Commons library show unemployment is already costing around £61billion a year. That sum includes the total for jobless benefits – including jobseekers’ allowance and incapacity benefits – and lost tax revenue resulting from reduced earnings and spending." Does it include the huge cost of the various programmes, such as New Deal, aimed at getting the unemployed back to work? I don't know. But as the article points out, the government has "promised that extra measures to offer training and advice will be in place to deal with any sharp rise." Presumably that means FND and the support contracts. So not everybody is losing money. And as Dave Osler points out on the Liberal Conspiracy blog, "Total bonuses to those in financial services reached £7.6bn in the five-month period between December 2008 and April 2009, which is regarded as the peak season. But in back of an envelope terms, you can double that figure for the full year, and you come to a total considerably higher than the annual £11 billion cost of jobseekers' allowance." In fact you can draw any conclusion you want to. The Benefit Busters programme drew an unexpected response from the Adam Smith Institute, that cheerleader for capitalism. It concluded that "Those in minimum wage jobs who can be rewarded with more money on benefits need to have their allowance levels raised so they are removed from paying tax."
The debate is welcome; but let's have the real figures, and let's not lose sight of the misery of unemployment.


  1. (not directed at watching A4e)

    You can NOT quote a figure that includes both the cost of benefits and the loss of tax. They are opposites. In the same way you can't compare the income of tax and expenditure of unemployment benefits, for the employed.

    If no one pays taxs, you get no tax from them people... it doesn't cost it to not have it. Thats like me paying £1 to go on the lottery and saying "That £1 has cost me £11.2 million" (if I didn't win, highly likely lol). It has only cost me that £1.

    Therefore this figure is wrongly used as a further hate campaign against the unemployed. It really isn't the correct time to do it. Unemployed includes a lot of people who have recently in the last 2 or so years lost their jobs due to the recession *and* not just those who have been claiming non stop for years and years.

    I am sure the figure includes Child Benefit, Housing Allowance and Tax Credits too.

    So... I agree with you, what are the REAL figures?!

  2. Information technology will be the downfall of this company without any doubt, I may be heading for them in a couple of months and if so I will be 'going equipped'

  3. I read in a newspaper recently that welfare was costing £3.2 million per day (=£1.139 billion per annum). This figure obviously conflicts with the claim that welfare is costing £61bn pa. Which are the correct figures?

  4. My mistake - the 3.2 million is the number employed - please don't approve the previous or this comment!


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