The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) hasn’t fooled anyone with a tweet about its record. Probably because it was so easy to pull apart.
The DWP: tweeting nonsense?
Did you know that youth unemployment has more than halved since 2010?
— DWP (@DWP) October 20, 2018
The DWP has been pushing this line for the past week:
Youth unemployment has halved since 2010. @ONS figures released today confirm that the youth unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since comparable records began #StrongerEconomy pic.twitter.com/GdiwEDIeny
— DWP Press Office (@dwppressoffice) October 16, 2018
what assessment she has made of trends in the level of youth employment since 2010.
Shock! Horror! DWP minister Alok Sharma answered on 19 October. And guess what? He had good news:
The youth unemployment is currently at a new record low of 10.8% – with the number of young people who are unemployed down by over 50% since 2010.
But on social media, the DWP wasn’t fooling anyone. Because people spotted a flaw in its spin.
The Tory jobs miracle
So what reasons do people give for the Tories’ youth unemployment miracle?
Gothangel had an idea:
Because the Age children leave school has increased to 18, which means less youths claiming benefits. Child Maintenance is payable to 18 and in some cases 20 (cant really call them children at 20). So children encouraged to stay in education for parental financial gain!!
— Gothangel (@GothangelC94) October 20, 2018
As did Stephen Adamson:
I know that with kids having to stay on in education til18 now they are not classed unemployed strange coincidence I am sure ……..
— Stephen Adamson YNWA #GTTO (@leeadamson2009) October 20, 2018
As politics.co.uk reported, the Education and Skills Act 2008 made changes to the “learning” leaving age in England. From 2013, the government made young people stay in education, training or employment until they were 17. This rose to 18 in 2015. With the loss of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in England, these people may well have to take up part-time work to fund their studies.
But this is not the main reason why youth unemployment probably looks better.
- the number of young people in employment fell by 35,000 to 3.83 million.
- unemployed young people numbers fell by 60,000 to 464,000.
72,000 people aged 16-24 had been unemployed for over 12 months in June-August 2018. This was 15% of all unemployed 16-24 year olds.
Also, the unemployment rate for people in full-time education was 15.8%, down from 17.5% a year ago. Essentially, more and more young people in education seem to be working. One survey found that 57% of students worked to pay accommodation, food and household bills. And let’s also not forget that for the purposes of unemployment figures, just one hour’s work counts as employed.
Moreover, as the ONS noted:
Between March to May 1992 and June to August 2018, the proportion of people aged from 16 to 24 years who were in full-time education increased substantially from 26.2% to 43.9%.
There aren’t necessarily more young people in work. There are more students having to work to fund their way through education.
So – ta-dah! As the late magician Paul Daniels often said, “that’s magic!” Or rather, that’s a typical Tory magic trick; claiming things are better when really they’re not. Remember David Cameron doing the same thing to child poverty?
Cooking the books?
But Mo perhaps summed up many people’s feeling towards the DWP’s constant spin:
— mo (@mo51545975) October 20, 2018
The DWP: if we’re awful at something, we’ll just pretend everything is fine and dandy. The Tory way through and through.
– Read more from The Canary on the DWP.