Unemployment is currently rising to the historic mark of 3 million. Although recent statistic show that it has dipped slightly, the reality is the coalition have fiddled the figures by placing the unemployed onto workfare training courses such as A4E and Best. Recently A4E has been in the spotlight for allegations of fraud by making up jobs that they managed to find for them or another tactic being used is to sanction those that are unemployed for menial errors.
Leeds Unemployment Action group has recently been set up; we have regular meetings and leaflet local jobcentres talking to people signing on. Last week whilst down at park place job centre I was speaking to a young man who told me he’s lost his Job seeker’s allowance (JSA) due to the fact he misunderstood the time of his next appointment to sign on subsequently he lost his JSA for a month. I asked him “Did you apply for a crisis loan?” His reply “Yeah but they wouldn’t give me one as they didn’t in their opinion consider me in severe enough need!” The fact somebody else can decide whether or not you need money to live off just highlights the disgrace our government are.
The argument the coalition give for cutting public sector jobs is that it will be offset by the boost in private sector jobs. Latest evidence show the contrary happening as those in the public sector lose their jobs
The private sector is unable to make up for the demand as the economy is being hampered by the lack of consumer spending and the crisis in the Eurozone.
Those that claim disability living allowance (DSA) or Employment support allowance (ESA) are facing re-assessment. Already dozens of disabled people who can’t cope with facing re-assessment and consequently losing their benefit have committed suicide. The coalition government has contracted out the re-assessment to a private multinational corporation called Atos. The re-assessment criteria is deliberately geared towards throwing as many disabled people off the sick register, Atos is given a bonus incentive by the government for every sick person it manages to find somehow rather miraculously “fit and healthy.” With Remploy factories been closed down it will throw even more disabled people into unemployment because they simply can’t get a job anywhere else.
Being unemployed is a constant uphill struggle and incredibly demoralising. Unite have recently launched a community membership programme. For just 50p a week, people not in work and over the age of 16 can receive a range of advice, including access to Unite’s legal helpline, debt counselling, assistance on claiming benefits and the chance to talk to people in a similar position as them. There are already branches set up in Sheffield, Salford and Liverpool with plans to extend further afield. Having the unemployed in a union branch would be a step forward in giving them a bigger voice and fighting back against austerity.