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Monday, 6 December 2010

UK Robbed of their futures !

There's little more fascinating than the responses of Tory politicians to uncomfortable truths and the knee-jerk reactions of Employment Minister Chris Grayling are no exception to the rule.

Faced with the dreadful statistic that the number of 16 to 24-year-olds claiming unemployment benefit for more than 12 months has increased fourfold since before the recession, Mr Grayling's knee jerked into overdrive.

And it immediately spun him around so that he was looking backwards.

In true Tory fashion, he launched into an attack on the policies of the last Labour government, saying that, "despite throwing millions of pounds at the problem, the patchwork of ill-conceived and poorly thought out schemes we inherited from the last government failed young people across the country."

What he didn't say was that his government has already demolished, cancelled or shut down nearly all that "patchwork" of schemes.

He didn't even try to explain what these wholesale cancellations would do to help unemployed young people.

Nor did he explain how putting the best part of half a million public-sector workers on the dole was calculated to improve the employment prospects of young people, or how capping the pay of hundreds of thousands more would increase demand and create jobs for school and college leavers to take up.

He explained that his government was developing work experience opportunities so that young people get the skills and experience they need to successfully compete in the labour market. Unfortunately, he didn't then enlighten us as to what jobs these newly experienced youngsters would be competing for.

And he completely forgot to mention that there are already more than five people competing for every available vacancy, even before his government's huge cuts programme has fully taken effect.

"We are already seeing signs," said the purblind Mr Grayling, "that the youth labour market is beginning to recover from the recession."

One wonders what those signs are. Perhaps the Employment Minister has secret skills in reading the entrails of animals or, maybe, he has been retrained in reading crystal balls, because there's certainly no sign of such a turnaround in the real world.

In that real world, which the rest of us inhabit, the truth is more accurately portrayed by TUC general secretary Brendan Barber, who acidly commented that "a million young people lost their jobs in the recession, crucial education and job support schemes have been scrapped and they'll soon be priced out of going to university. It's no wonder young people are angry about being left high and dry by this government."

It would seem that even the normally diplomatic and even-tempered Mr Barber is running out of patience with the headbangers of the Con-Dem coalition - and it's not surprising. Because Mr Grayling, like the rest of his Tory crew, seems incapable of addressing the real problem.

The real problem is that we are in the midst of a recession manufactured by speculators and perpetuated by a government which is diverting cash from public services to bail those same speculators out.

The government is doing it despite the harm that it's doing to society at large and in defiance of all the economic signals, which indicate that the path they are taking leads directly from recession into slump, a depression to rival any in the modern history of capitalism.

Financial collapse is rolling across Europe country by country , fuelled by this multinational bailout, the biggest daylight robbery in the history of the world and, despite protestations to the contrary, this country is no more immune than Greece, Ireland or Portugal.

And the real losers in this robbery are the elderly, who are losing much of their care and security in old age, and the young, who are being robbed of their future.

More than two million children from working households are living in poverty, setting a new record, a report has shown.

The study Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion was published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

It recorded a huge 2.1 million impoverished youngsters living in Britain where their parents or carers have jobs.

In contrast the number of poverty-stricken children living in workless households has dropped to 1.6 million, the lowest number since 1984.

And the research found that the overall number of children living in poverty has fallen to 3.7 million.

The report's co-author Tom MacInnes said that were it not for substantial increases in child benefit and child tax credit in 2008 the number of children in poverty would be around half a million higher.

The figures show that children from working households account for 58 per cent of youngsters living in poverty.

Mr MacInnes said this gave the lie to the idea that work alone was the answer to poverty. "Child poverty in working households must be given the same focus as out-of-work poverty," he said.

We cannot hope to end child poverty when more and more children whose parents are in work find their lives damaged by poverty regardless.

We must demand decisive action from the government and employers to increase the incomes of working families.

Making work pay is the government's rallying cry, but this report shows that for a record 2.1 million working families, work doesn't pay enough to keep them and their children above the bread line.

The danger is that cuts to working tax credit and childcare support will further penalise working families already struggling to make ends meet.

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