A DWP tweet has been shot down for the nonsense it is

The DWP logo and facepalm
Steve Topple

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?

On Saturday 20 October, the DWP tweeted about youth unemployment; that is, people aged 16 to 24 looking for full or part-time work and not getting it. It proudly claimed that:

Did you know that youth unemployment has more than halved since 2010?

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The DWP has been pushing this line for the past week:

And it seems to be part of some sort of PR campaign. Because on 10 October, Conservative MP Giles Watling asked the DWP boss Esther McVey in a written question:

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:

As did Stephen Adamson:

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.

Crunching numbers

As Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures confirm, this rate is at a record low. But the ONS also points out that, between June to August 2017 and June to August 2018:

  • 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.

Parliament has spotted some flaws in the figures as well. The population aged 16 to 24 is nearly 100,000 lower than a year ago. It also noted:

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:

The DWP: if we’re awful at something, we’ll just pretend everything is fine and dandy. The Tory way through and through.

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Read more from The Canary on the DWP.

Featured image via Alex E. Proimos – Wikimedia and UK government – Wikimedia 

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Steve Topple