Job–lite recovery means Britain needs new industries

Despite yesterday’s "bleak employment outlook" the major political parties and British media continue to promote solutions which will do little to alleviate long term unemployment. The Government should prioritise long-term employment through investing in new industries combating environmental problems and increasing community development.

Despite yesterday’s “bleak employment outlookthe major political parties and British media continue to promote solutions which will do little to alleviate long term unemployment. Even with this most recent rise in joblessness – one spanning demographics of sex, age, and ethnicity – both parties champion “spending cuts” while the media focuses on deficit reduction and the need to “end the welfare trap.” For example, Hamish McRae in the Independent writes, “the government, whatever government, will have both to raise taxes and cut spending. Those of us who banged on about the unsustainable nature of public finances will see ourselves vindicated … for the moment all is calm; the Government is still ‘investing’; the thunderclouds have yet to break.”

Ignored is how these policies will prevent what is being called a “job–lite recovery.” Limited measures, such as the Government’s forthcoming “Back to Work” white paper promising job training for the young and increased benefits for the elderly and disabled, are at best only stop gap solutions failing to address what the OECD refers to as the “structural” problems of the economy. How will job training for instance help if vacancies continue to fall, as the ONS report shows?

The media and policy makers must acknowledge the limitations of the bank bailout and stimulus with its outdated embrace of an outdated free-market ideology favouring banks and the financial sector over workers, a preference shown in the £500 billion given to banks versus only £3 billion for “capital projects.” Instead of reducing VAT, bailing out banks, or introducing “welfare reform” aiming to force claimants to look for non-existent and non-livable jobs, the Government should prioritise long-term employment through investing in new industries combating environmental problems and increasing community development. In the long term it remains to be seen what type of economy will emerge from this crisis – one which is sustainable and advantages all or one that continues to rely on the boom and bust of unregulated growth.

Our guest writer is Peter Bloom, Swansea University

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