Well…show willing.

A Poundland spokeswoman said:

“Over 1000 people have carried out voluntary work experience in our stores. Out of this number, an encouraging 25 per cent have left their work experience early because they received a job offer, and a further 10 per cent have gone onto employment with Poundland.”

Pret a Vomir.

Matthew Taylor is shrill.

In fairness, perhaps we should have a regionally adjusted striving index which reflects local labour markets. So anyone who has had a job in the last three years in Darlington can get a ‘striver’ badge but anyone in Surrey with a job on less than, say, £20k should be labelled a feckless loser…But whilst this kind of stuff is tolerable at the margins and when things are going well and there is a reasonable supply of jobs that pay a living wage, right now it feels like the worst kind of reactionary, intelligence-sapping populism.

I’m tempted to say that, well, Matt, as Prime Minister’s Chief Advisor on Political Strategy you certainly didn’t seem averse to a bit of reactionary intelligence-sapping populism. But he does have a bit of a point. In the full-employment years you could make a case that the number of long-term unemployed people was high, and action was needed to get it down. After all, even a vague generalist blogger like me wandered into a job!

It might not have been a very good case, as a big part of the problem was down to the regional and sector disparities. But it wasn’t an obviously insane concept.

Part of the current predicament is that everyone who has dealt with social policy since 1997 or thereabouts is habituated to this situation, where there are pockets of deep, structural poverty needing structured aid from the social services system, a shallower, bigger but manageable pool of people left behind from the 1980s crises, and a labour market that could absorb more workers. Labour suffered from this very badly in 2007-2010, with people like Andy Burnham and Liam Byrne still wagging finger long after the unemployment rate had started rising and even the long-term rate had started rising.

Now the Tories and the new privatised/quack sector are struggling to get out of the same mindset. If you think it’s unequivocally good to prod the unemployment to do more hours of job seeking per day and take more CV writing classes – it always seems to be something like this, whoever makes the proposals – you must also believe in a countercyclical economic policy. No amount of additional job search activation can possibly help in the current predicament.

Unless, of course, being nastier to the unemployed is an end in itself. Mind you, this also reminds me of being told off at school: “Why aren’t you writing?” “Miss, I haven’t got a worksheet.” “Well….show willing.”

Meanwhile, a tweet from Danny Blanchflower:

1 Comment on "Well…show willing."

  1. I like the idea of the strivers index. We’d no longer need need to waste 17 week’s worth of prime-time ITV1 programmes establishing the fact that stacking shelves in a Swindon branch of Asda is undignified work, suitable only for unimaginative losers.


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