Peter Hoskin

The government’s transparent approach to worklessness

The government's transparent approach to worklessness
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Sometimes hope lies in the details. Take this morning's press release from the DWP, for instance. On the surface, it is a response to today's encouraging employment figures. But what it really is is a new way of approaching the problem of worklessness in this country. And all because of its headline: "Figures reveal five million on out of work benefits as Grayling pledges to make work pay."

This is, as far as I can remember, the first time that the total out-of-work claimant count has reached the summit of an official release. The last government always knew what the figure was, of course, but never drew much attention to it. Instead, we heard Brown mumbling on about "3 million new jobs," while wilfully ignoring the millions who had been overtaken by globalisation. It was left to think-tanks like Policy Exchange to put him right.

But now we have a government which is highlighting the full scale of the problem. The press release even notes that "while the number of people in employment has risen over the last quarter, this was largely driven by a rise in the employment of non UK nationals." It hard not to see all this as a statement of intent: that worklessness is now not going to be buried in the small print, but identified and, hopefully, treated. Just as Beveridge would have wanted it.