Work-shy dole scroungers – so last century

June 11, 2015

“Of those without work, only a minority have been without it for long. Many go through what the Joseph Rowntree Foundation describes as the low-pay no-pay cycle, moving between periods of unemployment and low wage work. This seems to have continued during the downturn. Even the worst recession in living memory didn’t have that much effect on labour force participation. In the UK, most people kept looking for work and employment bounced back reasonably quickly. If ever the British were work-shy, we’re certainly not now.”
– C/o Flip Chart Fairy Tales

Flip Chart Fairy Tales

The Resolution Foundation published two reports on work, poverty and benefits either side of the weekend. Last week’s An Ocean Apart contrasted the developments in employment and welfare in the UK and USA over the last 20 years. This week’s report on Universal Credit recommended a redesign of the in-work benefits system.

In his commentaries on both reports, Gavin Kelly points out that the political rhetoric on poverty and work is two decades out of date. As he says:

[T]he UK’s longstanding problem of workless families has been transformed since the late 1990s: once viewed as the biggest social ill facing the country, the rate of worklessness in households in which there are no disabled adults has plummeted.

There are big structural problems in the UK jobs market: low pay, low labour productivity, insecure work for the young, and next to no incentive to earn more for those on tax credits (or indeed Universal…

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