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).