So yesterday, hidden behind another slightly larger news item, we saw unemployment rise by 70,000. We have been following this LibDem and Tory economic plan for three years now and it it clear that this plan is failing and failing badly.
The total number of people now unemployed in the UK now stands at around 2.56 million people. Personally I find the number 2.56 million difficult to visualize. A number so large that it just become a number on a page. We cannot forget that for every single one of these people, there is an individual story, an individual struggle, and an individual’s livelihood at risk.
For unemployment to be so high at the same time that the Tories and LibDems are giving a tax cut of £100,000 to every millionaire is frankly offensive and serves only to rub salt into the would.
This millionaire’s tax cut is also coming in while families are on average £891 worse off a year due to tax and benefit changes, and pay packets are £1,700 smaller than they were in 2010.
So what needs to change? Osborne’s most recent budget showed some tinkering at the edges, some not entirely unwelcome, but it was just that, tinkering. An mere installation of some slightly comfier deck chairs on the Titanic. The Government needs to focus on changing course and changing course now.
The IMF is warning George Osborne to do this, but is he listening? Of course he’s not.
Jobseekers’ allowance is a safety net. Yet the LibDems and Tories have made this safety-net weak, and once you’re in it, it’s difficult to escape. Labour would make this safety-net strong, and temporary. This can be achieved by guaranteeing a job to anybody out of work for more than two years. THis would cost £1 billion and would be funded by reversing the government’s decision to stop tax relief on pension contributions for people earning over £150,000 being limited to 20 per cent.