Problem is Labour’s mantra that this is an economic problem is belied by the fact that this has been rising since they introduced the minimum wage about 2000. In Spain 40% youth unemployment is indicative that most young people have half a job, before they eventually join the ranks of the protected insiders.
In Britain however, 20% youth unemployment means many of those 20% of young people won’t get a job, now or ever. This is one of the broadest measure of Britains multi-generational welfare dependency. There’s the Workless households, in which one in six children grow up; without a role model of a parent going to work every day, the majority of which are headed by a lone parent. At the top of the heap are the “problem families” which blight every poor neighbourhood.
The problems are circular. Increasingly feminised schools have little relevance to working class boys in particular. They bunk off, find they can’t catch up if they ever have periods of motivation, get frustrated, bunk off some more, and leave school without any of the basic skills necessary to succeed, or any of the qualifications employers demand. These boys then go on to lead chaotic lives, without the hope of employment, fathering children they have little intention of bringing up. Who grow up in workless households, for whom school has no relevance…. and so on.
The problem isn’t a lack of jobs (the number of employed immigrants gives the lie to that), a lack of skills, or even discrimination against the working class, one ludicrous CiF article (I can’t find the link) suggested employers’ demands for punctual, hard-working, well-presented, literate people with clear diction was ‘discrimination’; instead it’s a moral poverty.
There are vast armies of state employees, some 43 agencies by one estimate, focused on solving these problems. Income transfers ensure that the multi-generational welfare families are not cash poor. There are plenty of low-paid people on wages lower than that which can be achieved by farming the benefits system’s (at one recent count) 73 different payments.
Chris Dillow will scoff at the idea that living on £51 per week unemployment benefit. But this number is a joke. Unemployment benefit: that’s just pin-money, when housing benefit ensures there’s a roof over your head, and income support & child benefit to ensure little Wayne, Lee and Kayleigh don’t starve. A multi-generational moral vacuum has been created, where there are no consequences to catastrophic life choices. Few single mothers get sent to gaol unless they’ve killed someone, and there are no punishments short of that hold any fear.
The Problem families don’t need another agency of troubleshooters to ensure they behave. They need a system of consequences. Beyond a certain point of catastrophic stupidity, petty criminality, and ignorance the state needs to cease its efforts to ‘help’. Perhaps above a certain number of ASBOs and convictions, all benefits should be stopped, all children taken into care and the family evicted from state housing. The adults would be free to find a living without the help they’ve spat out all their lives. Consequences for actions. That is all that is required. It may even filter down through the levels of uselessness, without the hard-core of trouble families, their neighbours’ kids might find education in sink comprehensives improve. This might mean that the employers, who’ve been importing labour rather than employing illiterate British teenagers, might start making a dent in youth unemployment. If you build an incentive or two into the welfare state, in 20 years, Britain’s underclass might actually start to shrink.