Unemployment figures for the UK in the period from February to April 2018 show the lowest percentage rate since 1975.
This is great news, but these figures mask some important challenges both for Government and for the many people still trying to find a way onto the labour market ladder.
We know that 4.2% of people who actively want to be in work (that’s 1.42m) aren’t currently able to find a job. This might be because they are struggling to organise their search for work effectively, or develop the right skills, or market what they can offer to the right employer.
But there’s a wider issue here as well. These recent figures don’t include people who are identified as being ‘inactive’. The Inactivity Rate from February to April 2018 was 21%. That’s 8.65 million people, including 1.98 million people who are classified as being long-term sick.
The impact on those individuals of being out of the labour market can often be enormous. It is wasted potential, and the longer someone is out of work, the harder it is to find a way back in. As for the state, this group of people represents a significant proportion of the £69 billion being paid out annually on disability and housing benefits. It’s an amount that is not expected to change when the next set of figures are published in July 2018.
We think that most people, with the right support, can be helped to realise their potential in the right job, and can make a significant contribution to our economy. To provide support for the UK to fill its vacancies in response to Brexit and replacement demand, there is a growing need to impact on the Inactivity Rate. A support programme designed to tackle this need and promote independence for individuals would deliver a sound investment to UK PLC.
A 3-year programme costing about £12 million per annum and helping 20,000 inactive people back to work would yield a return to the public finances of £7 for every £1 invested – that’s up to £252m.
That’s why Pluss believes that no-one should be left behind.