Employment and Skills, Politics

Unemployment falls, but long-term unemployment rises

Unemployment falls, but long-term unemployment rises

Unemployment fell by 57,000, a figure which included a 20,000 drop in youth unemployment. Employment rose by 16,000, up 300,000 from the same time last year. However, the figures also showed that long-term unemployment rose. The number of people without a job in more than a year rose to 915,000 more than half of which, 474,000, have been out of work for at least two years. This is higher than at any point of the financial crisis, indeed, the highest figure for 17 years[1][2][3].

The government claims that the drop in unemployment is evidence that their welfare reform agenda is working. In a press release Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said that “[the] figures are encouraging, with the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance down and the number of people in work increasing.” The government also claims that the fact that vacancies and available jobs are the highest since the financial crisis in 2008 is proof that the economy is recovering and on the right track.

The opposition has welcomed the “shred of progress on jobs” though in a press release the Shadow Secretary of State for Welfare and Pensions Liam Byrne criticised the government’s Work Programme for failing the unemployed and claims that Labour’s Compulsory Job Guarantee scheme would be more effective at getting the long-term unemployed into work.

The government’s flagship welfare-to-work policy to help the long-term unemployed is the Work Programme. The Work Programme replaced a raft of policies, including the Future Jobs Fund scheme. The Work Programme involves helps to provide personalised support for the long-term unemployed due to the needs many long-term unemployed have. The programme does this through ‘contracting out’ the work of providing personalised support to a variety of companies. Some have criticised the Work Programme for failing to meet targets and failing to help more difficult cases whilst “creaming” of the easiest. The government insists that the Work Programme’s performance is improving and that poor results are due to the fact that the Work Programme is seeking to help the very most troubled[4][5].


  • Is the Work Programme more effective than a Compulsory Job Guarantee scheme? Or doing nothing at all?
  • Should personalised support be provided through private contractors or directly by the state?


Press release






Quoted links

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23340165

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/number-of-longterm-jobless-hits-20year-high–and-most-havent-worked-for-two-years-8713535.html

[3] http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/491299/20130717/uk-unemployment-long-term-employment-ons-work.htm

 [4] http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmpubacc/936/93603.htm

[5] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/three-out-of-four-longterm-unemployed-on-work-programme-havent-found-a-job-yet-8665874.html

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