ACCORDING to research published by the TUC on Monday, over 250,000 people will be spending their second successive Christmas on the dole.
Even this figure does not tell the whole truth about long-term unemployment as this figure of 250,000 only refers to those claiming job seekers allowance.
Using the more accurate measurement of long-term unemployment used by the International Labour Organisation, this number jumps to nearly a million.
The ILO numbers take into account those who are out of work and seeking employment but who receive no job seekers allowance, it is estimated to be around 700,000 people in this position.
They receive no support and therefore they simply do not exist as far as the official figures are concerned.
The TUC notes that the there was a rise in long-term youth unemployment in November and that using the ILO measure, long-term unemployment overall is falling much slower than the fall recorded for those receiving jobseekers allowance.
Using data supplied by the Department for Work and Pensions, the PCS has calculated that 80,000 families have had their benefits stopped.
The unemployed and the disabled had an estimated £20 million (£250 each on average) withheld this month under the coalition’s brutal ‘sanctions regime’ that was introduced in 2012.
This represents a 2,000% increase since the Christmas before the Tory-led coalition took office in 2010!
Workers and youth are flung off jobseekers allowance for up to three years for the most trivial of reasons including being late for an interview.
Anyone refusing to work for free on one of the government’s workfare schemes will certainly be sanctioned.
The government has consistently denied that it operates a quota for advisors in job centres to refer claimants for sanctions, but the PCS has supplied evidence that shows that the DWP’s staff appraisal system, which is linked to the disciplinary procedure, is used to enforce ‘expectation’ levels.
In other words, if staff do not meet the necessary level of performance, measured by the number of people they put forward for sanctions every week, then they will be on the receiving end of a bad work appraisal leading to disciplinary action being taken against them.
Benefit sanctions are being used by the government to drive hundreds of thousands of workers and young people off benefits not, as they claim, into work but into a life of extreme poverty where they are forced to rely on the charity of food banks just to survive.
Commenting on their own research findings, the TUC general secretary, Francis O’Grady, shed copious amounts of tears for the atrocious plight of those forced off benefit. She said: ‘One Christmas out of work is hard enough, but by the second Christmas your savings will all be gone and your confidence has probably taken a significant hit. It’s hard to bring some festive cheer to your family in that situation, especially for parents who want to make Christmas special for their children.’
Before ending: ‘The government should focus on providing long-term unemployed people with proper support to move back into work rather than blaming them for our unequal jobs recovery.’
So all the leadership of the TUC can come up with is yet another useless appeal to the government to act reasonably.
In fact the Tories are very focused on what they are doing.
They are focused exclusively on cutting welfare expenditure to the bone and beyond – shrinking the state to levels of the 1930s and driving the working class back to conditions of the ‘hungry thirties’ in order to pay off the debts run up bailing out the banks.
The only way out of this crisis for the working class is to demand that the TUC stop crying about the plight of the unemployed and immediately organise a general strike to kick the government out and replace it with a workers government and a socialist system where unemployment will be banished for good.
The leadership of the TUC oppose this fight, they must be removed and the revolutionary leadership of the WRP and Young Socialists built to replace them.