Dead Men Left

Monday, January 17, 2005

Blair: a "radical, reforming" government in an exceptionally cunning disguise

Briefly. Apropos the "never mind Iraq - look at the happy paupers" line sections of the pro-Labour liberal media are pushing, I've been reading The Labour Market Under New Labour: the state of working Britain (as edited by Richard Dickens, Paul Gregg and Jonathan Wadsworth). It's a collection of articles from assorted academics and researchers on a scattering of different aspects of life under Blair. In its own quiet way, it's rather explosive. Compare, for example, the government's own claims on the success of its New Deal for Young People scheme, intended to reduced long-term unemployment by providing training and subsidised work:

More than 375,000 long-term unemployed 18-24 year olds have found jobs through NDYP [New Deal for Young People]...

Sounds good, doesn't it? Except... some of this impressive number would have found work, anyway, with or without the New Deal. Unemployment has been falling for 18-24 year olds since 1994. A group of researchers from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, in their chapter on the New Deal, provide a rather different estimate of the scheme's impact. Stripping away all those who could have found work regardless, they reckon that just 17,000 new jobs were created by the NDYP. (Blundell et al. in "The Labour Market...", p.27)

"Three-hundred and seventy-five thousand", say the government. "Seventeen thousand," say the independent researchers. Over the four years they evaluate, 1998-2002, the New Deal for Young People cost £394m to administer, over and above the benefits paid in the scheme, or over £23,000 per job created.

Spin spin spin spin spin.