Neets (young people not in employment, education or training) will find themselves at the centre of the political battleground today as Gordon Brown unveils his “Budget for jobs” .Well, we know now what the so-called ‘Budget for Jobs’ is worth, don’t we…?
But the issues she raised are worth looking at in depth, and not just for their supposed connection to the Budget:
What do you do with Carl: 21 years old, still living at home with his six younger siblings, never had a job, abusive to his mother - and angry that the housing association sees no reason to give him his own place? I met him recently in Tonbridge, Kent, his language a barrage of curses, his behaviour bordering deranged.I think we can figure out for ourselves where his income (meagre as it may be) comes from, can’t we….?
Carl did not even sign on, a new one on me: somebody so utterly lethargic he couldn't even be bothered to claim benefits, presumably in case he was expected to do something at some point in return.
If Carl is typical of a growing number of these ‘Neets’ (and I fear he is), this isn’t just a financial problem, it’s a social one.
There is a slice of society that does not want to work. Benefits staff say that the problem is greatest among the young, who unlike older workers are unembarrassed about signing on.Because in the UK, we don’t ‘do’ shame anymore. Wasn’t that supposed to be a good thing, according to all the experts?
And it’s a problem that is growing:
In the eight years to 2008, at a time of rising employment, the proportion of under-25s who were unemployed rose across both sexes and age groups, 16-18 and 19-24.Ah, of course. Let’s fall back on the statistics, after all, figures can’t be manipulated, can they?
Ministers believe that only a small minority of these do not want to work. They point to evidence that relatively few claimants are “sanctioned” by having their benefits payments cut if they fail to look for work.
But the number of sanctions does not begin to represent the number of loafers.Because the staff see the unemployed as their reason for existence, of course! No-one wants to jeopardise their own employment prospects by allowing their herd of carefully-tended human cattle to stray off the reservation…
Sanctioning is viewed by benefits staff as an extreme step.
Plans are afoot to farm out the management of these ‘Neets’ to private companies with targets for getting them into work, presumably in the hope that they will prove more efficient. But they won’t, and they won’t for the same reasons (a reduction in their earning potential) and for one, crucial, overriding one:
What is missing from Carl and Shane and Paul, and from the single mothers who believe they cannot possibly work while they have to pick Lauren up from school, is ambition and determination - and those are hard to subsidise.And even harder to put back into a generation, once your ‘progressive’ social policies have bred them out…
And don’t hope for a better handle on this burgeoning underclass from the Tories:
Ministers will focus today not on the unwilling but on the 88 per cent of benefits claimants who they believe are willing workers. The Tories address a similar target group with their new master's degrees, and apprenticeships, and their proposal for street education youth workers. Look out, from the Government, for pledges to local authorities and businesses to subsidise heavily the creation of new posts specifically for Neets or longer-term unemployed, to the tune of far more than the £2,500 at present on offer.And all of those will fail to attract the likes of Carl and Shane and Paul into these new ‘opportunities’ for the same reason.
It could be up to half the £12,000 minimum wage salary for a full-time job; a subsidy for a job rather than a benefit, although at twice the cost to the taxpayer (and more than that if you consider that the council taxpayer may be funding the other half).
They don’t want to work, and there is no social stigma anymore about being unemployed.
And it’s not just a financial disgrace to allow this state of affairs to continue. It’s a big, big problem for the future of all areas of our society to allow a generation to grow up feeling that they owe society nothing, while ‘the State’ owes them everything.
Anyone doubting this should read mummylongleg’s cautionary tale of her recent A&E experience. These are the inevitable consequences of allowing the rise in the numbers of disaffected, unemployable young people who have nothing to do but drink, fight and screw for amusement.
The ‘Guardian’ obituary says of Jack Jones:
Despite the immense power he wielded, Jones remained a modest figure. He remained in his council flat in Denmark Hill in south London and turned down invitations to go into the House of Lords.What a contrast to today’s ‘what can I get for free?’ generation…