Rising unemployment

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development estimates that unemployment figures are likely to reach 2.85 million in the coming year, equivalent to 8.8% unemployment.  In principle, this figure should be independent of the claimant count – people who are unemployed do not necessarily qualify for benefits.  In practice, it may not be.  Part of the government’s current policy is to disqualify people from long-term incapacity benefits, in the form of Employment and Support Allowance.  The medical reassessments have led to many people leaving the benefit rolls – 36% of reassessments are brought to an end because the claimant is no longer entitled, but that reflects a certain turnover in the figures anyway (for example, among women who have had to claim sickness benefits while pregnant).   More important for the unemployment figures are the further 39% who are found to be fit for work.  It is not immediately clear how many of these people will go on to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance instead of ESA, but those who do will be redefined as actively seeking work.  If only a third of them make that shift, it will increase the unemployment figures by more than 300,000 – taking the figures well over three milllion.

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