By Daniel Pitt
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was clearly delighted to announce recently an apparent fall in unemployment of 14,000 between October and December to 2.5 million, according to the Office of National Statistics. When he appeared on Sky News to crow about it, the news presenter asked him about the numbers who were in part-time work but really wanted full-time employment. Iain Duncan Smith emitted a derisory chuckle before arrogantly claiming that 80% of those in work who wanted full-time jobs had them. If true, that would still leave a fifth of the country’s 29.73 million working population under-employed, getting part time wages that exclude them from many benefits but not getting enough to live on – almost six million people in total.
Duncan Smith additionally blustered that “Economically inactive people who are not available for work, that’s now at the lowest level since the early Nineties.”. This is mainly because the DWP and its hireling agency Atos have been declaring thousands of seriously ill and disabled people fit and available for work. Furthermore, thousands have disappeared completely from the statistics because they have committed suicide whilst under pressure to either seek work or starve.
Coinciding with the jobs statistics was news from the ONS that average earnings have risen by only 1.4% in the last year, well below the 2.7% inflation rate – meaning millions of households in Britain sliding deeper into poverty. Statistics from Child Poverty Action showed that now one in five children live in homes below the official poverty line. Even that figure is misleading because the official poverty line – set at 60% of the average income – has been steadily falling, so the decline of absolute poverty is greater even as millions more barely survive each day above that benchmark. Meanwhile weekly earnings, excluding bonus payments and before taxes and other deductions from gross pay, were £445 in December 2012, up from £439 a year earlier.
The rising closure rates among high street shops is evidence that the spending power of working class people is falling dramatically – and we can no longer afford to take on any more debt than they already have. So the capitalists cannot sell their goods, the shops and businesses close and the recession deepens. It is the same old inescapable capitalist cycle of crisis and depression; capitalism has nothing to offer the vast majority of people except more poverty and deeper despair. There can be no way out except a complete transformation from our fundamentally flawed current system to a planned economy, which is accountable to the millions instead of the millionaires.