Get on the bus ... to the Jobcentre

Get on the bus ... to the Jobcentre

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith may well have blown his carefully-cultivated image as a 'compassionate conservative' with his recent Tebbit-esque comments arguing the jobless should 'get on the bus' and look for work. But new research by the PCS union shows that he's also completely wrong.

The former Conservative leader has reinvented himself as a fighter against poverty since he was booted out of the Tory party's top job in a vote of no confidence in 2003. His Centre for Social Justice has become one of the more high profile right-wing think tanks, and has become the voice for 'caring conservatives' arguing for 'reform' of the welfare state to help lift Britain's poor out of poverty.

His recent chanelling of Norman Tebbit's ghost with an apparently deliberate reference to his infamous 'get on your bike' comment of 1981 can't have done him any PR favours. But more importantly, his argument was also rubbish. His argument was that long-term unemployment in areas like the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil was down to people not bothering to commute to neighboring towns and cities where work is available: "The truth is there are jobs. They may not be absolutely in the town you are living in. They may be in a neighbouring town ... we need to recognise the jobs often don't come to you. Sometimes you need to go to the jobs." The unemployed needed to stop being "static" and "get on the bus" to where the jobs are.

However, the claim that "there are jobs" in Cardiff for the unemployed of neighboring towns has been rubbished in research published by the PCS Union. In reality there are currently 15000 unemployed people in Cardiff chasing just 1700 jobs - nine jobseekers for each job. Furthermore "The number of people out of work in Merthyr and Blaenau Gwent combined was more than the total number of job vacancies for the whole of Wales". Of the jobs analysed in Cardiff, "the vast majority were temporary and part-time. Of the temporary jobs, most were unskilled labouring for just one or three weeks’ duration." Moreover, many were in bars and casinos which would have made it impossible to commute back to Merthyr Tydfil after work.

Nationally, there are 2 and a half million unemployed people chasing 500,000 jobs. The situation will only get worse with the government cutting 500,000 public sector jobs (likely a conservative figure, as it doesn't include those on temporary contracts which won't be renewed). A number of economists have estimated as many job losses in the private sector as a result of cuts in public funding and the end of contracts from the public sector. We can expect more bashing of the unemployed from the government putting them out of work, but as always it is a distraction from the real causes of unemployment.

Posted By

Oct 26 2010 19:46


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Oct 27 2010 18:09


Oct 27 2010 18:51

I prefer to walk, when I have to go.

Nov 4 2010 12:06

IDS is an utter scum bag, I remember at the job centre most of the jobs were as you say temp or part time.