Saturday, 27 August 2011

PCS: Fighting unemployment

Rising unemployment shows cuts are strangling the economy

Today's rise in unemployment figures is the latest indication that the government's austerity measures are strangling the economy and stifling the recovery, says the Public and Commercial Services Union.

Public sector job cuts and the lack of private jobs being created have helped to cause the continued rise in the unemployment rate – according to the Office for National Statistics figures for the three months to June it was 7.9%, up 0.1%. The number of unemployed women increased by 21,000 to 1.05 million the highest since May 1988.

The unemployed are facing even greater problems with the government’s attacks on welfare, including the chaos of the new welfare to work programme, as 20 jobcentres across the UK in areas of rising unemployment, whose employees have expertise built up over a number of years, face closure.

In Camberwell in south London where PCS members have been fighting a popular community campaign to save the jobcentre 6.2% of people are claimants and nearly 16 people competing for each vacancy. At Glasgow city jobcentre an area where 6.9% of people are claimants there are about 17 claimants for each vacancy (TUC figures from March 2011).

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “When unemployment is so high and the claimant count continues to rise it is more important than ever that public servants in jobcentres are given adequate resources to get people back to work. The government must remove the threat of jobcentre closures and tackle the mass unemployment that risks doing long-term damage to our economy.

“The chancellor wonders if the 50p tax rate will be effective because of tax avoidance and evasion when if he was interested in closing the £120 billion annual tax gap he would be investing in the Revenue staff to go after the big businesses and the rich and make them pay their fair share. Instead of this he is determined to continue the scandal of under-investment and let thousands of well-off people off the hook.

“By closing the tax gap and taxing the super-rich the government would be able to fund investment in council housing, renewable and public and close the deficit.

“Even billionaire investor Warren Buffett has called for the super-rich to pay higher taxes to end the US debt problems, something which the coalition and their wealthy friends in the UK appear keen to avoid.”

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