Are Britons working or not?

Of course there’s been a surge! Of course more women have entered the workforce! Reductions in access to carers’ allowances or help with childcare mean that single mothers of young children, those who care for disabled or elderly relatives and WASPI women who really ought to be looking forward to retirement, those least likely to have the time and energy to go to work are now also the least able to afford not to.

Boris bounce

So they’re flooding into minimum wage, part time or zero-hours contracts just to survive, on top of their considerable informal caring duties. The tories promised to make work pay but what they actually have done is to make any alternative to work unsustainable, no matter what the circumstances. That’s what they’re crowing about – exploitation of desperate people whose personal circumstances are often worse than any privileged tory minister could ever hope to fathom.

That’s what they mean when they boast about their record-high employment. They certainly don’t mean anything that will actually benefit the UK economy in any sustainable way.

“Research from academics at the University of Sussex and Loughborough University shows that the productivity growth slowdown since the 2008 financial crisis is nearly twice as bad as the previous worst decade for efficiency gains, 1971-1981, and is unprecedented in more than two centuries.

Growth in productivity – a measure of economic output per hour of work – has failed to rise in Britain at anywhere near the rates recorded prior to the banking crisis, with severe consequences for living standards. Economists believe productivity growth is vital for lifting GDP and higher wages.”

But there is one positive thing about starving our essential, informal, social workforce into other occupations – big businesses loves it. That’s why, when asked what we’re going to do about the massive post-Brexit workforce deficit, Home secretary Priti Patel’s knee-jerk reaction is to fill their vacancies with 8.5 million ‘economically inactive’ people. According to the ‘tax research’ blog

“To consider the economics for a moment, of those 8 million a significant number are students. Others are sick. Some are retired. There are non-working parents in that number. And yes, there are also some unemployed.”

Far from work to increase productivity as a way to improve living standards the Tories plan to remove the social infrastructure that this country has always relied upon to sustain its workforce…

Let’s get the grandparents back to work, the disabled and the students (you know, the people whose ability to study is the thing our national future depends upon). Let’s ignore the social and economic benefits the country derives from the veritable army of informal carers and stick them in the fields picking the fruit – now that we’ve sent all the fruit-pickers away.

As John McDonnel points out in The Guardian many more are currently ‘under-employed’ or struggling away with zero-hours contracts or below subsistence wages that will hardly improve as the job market is filled with people who, unlike them, don’t particularly need the money in the first place.

“With wages still below pre-crisis levels and so many people struggling with universal credit, the Tories have singularly failed to deliver the decent wages and strong social security needed to lift people out of poverty,” said John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor.

“The Tories have some cheek to talk about ‘levelling up’ when this report makes clear they have been responsible for levelling down the foundations of a healthy society, including good jobs and social security.”

Priti Patel

Smug Tory Home Secretary, Priti Patel claims 8.5 million unemployed and ‘under-employed’ people can fill the gaps in the workforce after Brexit. Yet the gov also claims we have unprecedented levels of employment.

Is the truth about in-work poverty, about people starving because they can’t get better than zero hours contracts finally being acknowledged?

Or is she talking about people who only have time for part time jobs because they’re either studying or acting as unpaid carers for relatives?

If so – how does she propose to fill the gap left by this army of unpaid carers?

Will she pay strangers to care for each-others’ relatives in an endless cycle of care-giving by proxy?

If so, why not just pay existing, family carers what they’re worth to the economy? Few things are as effective in stimulating a failing economy like ours is rapidly to be than the financial emancipation of women. It’s Keynesian, it’s just, especially in the case of care-givers and WASPI women and it’s effective.

Give ordinary women a way to make a reasonable income en masse and they spend it en masse. Money circulates. The economy grows.

Give those who already have more than they can spend a tax break and they stick it in the offshore account with the rest of their pile. Money is removed from circulation. The economy shrinks.

So stop funding tax cuts for the wealthy and start helping those at the bottom of the tree instead.

Oh right, you can’t – that would involve getting billionaires to pay their fair share of tax, wouldn’t it?