Many do not claim the benefits they should be entitled to. To find out why, the government must make better use of its databy Toby Phillips / January 11, 2018 / Leave a comment
When we think of needy people, we usually think of the unemployed. Government systems—and our entire way of thinking—is focussed around joblessness as a marker for needing support. My recent Resolution Foundation research suggests the relationship between unemployment and needing help isn’t so clear cut.
Most unemployed people don’t get benefits; while a third of people on the dole aren’t technically unemployed. To untangle this issue we need to answer two questions: who needs help? And do they get it? (Spoiler alert: 300,000 people are missing out.)
The social dynamics of unemployment have been shifting over recent decades. Twenty years ago, a job was a job. But the rise in insecure and low-paid work—zero-hour contracts and the gig economy—means the line between having a job and being jobless is blurred. A gig worker is no longer counted in unemployment statistics, but is life materially different if you only get two hours of work this week?
On the other hand, unemployment does not always represent a person in crisis. Over 40 per cent of unemployed people have some form of support around them. Some of this is driven by positive forces (more women in the workforce leads to more dual-income households) and some not so positive (young people can’t afford to move out, so stay supported by parents for longer).
All up, likely around a million Britons need help from the government because they are jobless—or close to it—without obvious support around them. (There would be far more if you look at the millions of “inactive” people with no plans to work due to illness, family responsibility, retirement or study, but these cases represent something altogether quite different.)
“A gig worker is no longer counted in unemployment statistics, but is life materially different if you only get two hours of work this week?”
The next question is simple: do these people get support? According to ONS survey data, almost one-in-three get no help from the government; double the rate of 15 years ago when it was one in six.
These 300,000 forgotten people have fallen through the cracks of the benefits system; abandoned as they try to get a foothold in the labour market. They are mostly young men…