Opinion Former Article

PCS: Halt the cuts or abandon a generation to unemployment

With youth unemployment hitting a record high and the total number of people out of work the highest since the Tories were last in office, the Public and Commercial Services union says the government must take urgent action to reverse the damage it is doing to our economy.

Official figures released today (12) show unemployment is up to 2.57 million, the highest since October 1994, with the jobseekers allowance claimant count now at 1.6 million.

Added to the 1.85 million temporary or part-time workers who say they want a full-time job - up 300,000 in the last two years - this means 4.4 million people are without a job or are looking for more work.

The number of unemployed young people has risen to 991,000, the highest rate ever in both numerical and percentage terms. The statistics also show almost a quarter of a million public sector jobs have gone in the last 12 months.

The union says ministers should be investing to get people back to work, not ploughing on with cuts that are damaging our economy.

But the latest figures come less than a week after the DWP announced to staff that 350 people who work in benefits processing offices and call centres could be forced out of their jobs, and as the department is considering cutting thousands more posts across the UK.

The union has consistently criticised the DWP for pressing ahead with its plans to close jobcentres, benefits offices and call centres, and says the department is losing specialist staff with the expertise needed to help get people back to work.

The rise in youth unemployment coincides with the recreation by a group of young people of the famous Jarrow march from the north east to London. The march, organised by Youth Fight for Jobs, is supported by PCS and other trade unions and will today stop for a series of protest events in Sheffield, where hundreds of DWP employment policy experts face redundancy.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Almost daily now, new evidence is coming out that our economy is on the brink of another recession and our government is recklessly and cruelly driving us over the edge.

"Before they abandon a generation to unemployment for ideological reasons, ministers need to urgently invest in our future and halt the cuts that are wreaking havoc across the country, not least to the very staff who can get people back to work, earning money and paying their taxes."

ENDS

Notes

- For information and interview requests contact PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2747 or 07833 978216

- The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has around 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich - on Twitter @janicegodrich

- Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union

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