Why the Government was right to force you and Cait Reilly to work in Poundland for free
THE Government was right to force Ms. Cait Reilly, the University of Birmingham geology graduate, and you to work at Poundland. This is aimed directly at you, Reilly:
“Forcing young people like me into unpaid work is wrong – and evidence shows it won’t solve the unemployment crisis.”
Unfortunately that’s where you’re entirely wrong. As Richard Layard would be delighted to point out to you.
Work experience. Where no job can be found with a regular employer, work on publicly-useful projects can help improve people’s work habits and give them work records which help in finding regular jobs. These programmes can help and have been around for a long time, though usually on a small scale. But unless they are universal, they tend to be used by people who already had the best chance of finding work. Thus the big new idea in Labour’s New Deal is this. We ought to offer everybody on the threshold of long-term unemployment a choice of activity for at least a period. And when that happens we should remove the option of life on benefit.
The argument is that people who have not worked for some time are detached from the work force. Employers tend to prefer those who are only just out of work rather than the long term unemployed. So, get people into some kind of work, any kind of work, in return for their benefits and we’ll improve the chance of the long term unemployed getting a job.
Weirdly this is actually more important at times of low unemployment rather than high. For as Layard also points out:
These changes are part of the reason why unemployment in Britain has been able to fall as it has without inflation rising. In 1989, when unemployment fell to 7%, inflation took off; today unemployment is 5½% but inflation is still level. The unemployed that we have now are more active in job search. So it is easier for employers to fill their vacancies and inflation remains under control.
By forcing people to remain part of the potential work force we lower the unemployment rate at which inflation starts to rise.
Yes, yes, I’m sure to you it feels like being forced to work for nothing. But, as the saying goes, tough titty. We’re asking you to take one for the team.