Flagship programmes to help the unemployed back into work are failing to achieve their goals, Stockton North’s MP has said, as figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that less than one-third of people in the North East who ceased to claim Jobseekers Allowance did so after moving into work.
Alex Cunningham highlighted this week that hundreds of people have gone missing from the Government statistics detailing people claiming Jobseekers Allowance in Stockton. And the Labour MP’s suspicions that many thousands more across the country are likely to have similarly disappeared are proving correct.
Having asked the Minister for the Cabinet Office for further clarification on the number of people across the North East who ceased to claim Jobseekers Allowance in January 2015 for “other reasons”, the Office for National Statistics provided figures confirming that only 2,665 in the region moved into work.
By contrast, 4,400 people fell off the records for failing to sign and reasons unknown – more than half of the total. However, the Minister of State for Employment was unable to say how many of these people had had sanctions placed on their entitlement, claiming that the information could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
“The Tory-led Government is very keen to paint a picture of fewer people relying on welfare support from the state. However, Ministers have today confirmed not only that they are unable to account for the thousands of people who have seemingly vanished from Jobseekers Allowance lists across the North East, but also that they simply do not know how many welfare sanctions are being handed out.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are being forced to rely on food banks to feed themselves and their children as a direct result of this Government’s failure to deliver a fair, proportionate and effective social security system and to provide the right assistance to help people move back into work.
“It is ludicrous that the Government is getting away with presenting unemployment figures in a way that conceals this alarming truth, and it is high time that the Tory-led Coalition came clean and was fully transparent about what has happened to the people who have fallen off the records.
“And it baffles me that the Government does not know how many sanctions have been meted out to these people, withdrawing or withholding support in their hour of need, particularly when the Secretary of State has been adamant that soaring food bank usage and an increase in the numbers of benefits sanctions being handed out are unrelated.
“This is why a Labour government will end Job Centre sanction targets and ensure that vulnerable people get the hardship payments they are entitled to, and will ensure that everyone who can work, does work through a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee.”