Saturday, November 08, 2008

Not At All Neet

As regular readers will know, one of NuLab's most notorious 1997 five pledges was:

"We will get 250,000 under-25 years-olds off benefit and into work."

Eleven years on - years in which billions have been spent on half-baked training schemes, and the UK economy grew by almost one-third - the unemployment rate among 16-25 year olds has actually increased, from 13.4% to 14.4% (see this damning OECD assessment).

Even worse, whereas in 1997 under those hopeless meany Tories, our yoof unemployment rate was 2.2 percentage points below the OECD average, by 2007 it was 1 percentage point above.

Solution? Obvious - bribe and cajole even more school leavers into going to "university". Or at the very least, into some other form of government "training". Don't worry about the massive cost - spin that as "upskilling for the new global economy, mumble, mumble". The main point is that these people no longer show up on the dole queue.

Job Done.

Unfortunately, even that scam failed. Instead of obligingly poodling off for a five year diploma in X-Box Studies at the University of Burger King, these inconsiderate workshy spongers decided to become Neets - Not in Employment, Education or Training. And under Labour, their numbers have soared.

According to the latest stats, despite oceans of ministerial talk, billions of pounds, and the deployment of thousands of new quangocrats, the number of 16 to 24-year-old Neets has now increased to 840,000 (2008 Q2). When Labour took over in 1997, it was just 665,000.

So in the face of the most sustained economic boom for at least 100 years, Labour increased the number of Neets by a quarter. And according to the OECD analysis above, the proportion of 16-24 year olds who are Neets has increased from 11.6% to 13%. Which compares to a fall in the OECD as a whole.

It's a total disaster. Once again, Labour talked the talk and spent the money, but actually delivered worse than SFA. By pursuing Big Government intervention - including their minimum wage and their rafts of welfare benefits - they have cast hundreds of thousands more of our young people onto the scrapheap.

They should hang themselves in shame.


PS On the subject of 1997, none of us can overlook the parallels with Obama's Presidential victory: a young charismatic leader swept into power on a wave of collective fantasy is bound to end in tears (excellent Matthew Parris piece on this today). But then again, as someone was saying to me only yesterday, in the depths of economic crisis and looming despair, you want leaders who can convey hope and optimism - even if they can't actually do anything to help directly. Roosevelt clearly made everyone feel better during the Depression, even though the economic stats show that prior to WW2 he was extraordinarily ineffective at reviving the economy (eg all those great films of hydro-dams gloss over the fact that the projects only ever employed a few tens of thousands - they were essentially PR spin). The really appalling thing about Bliar is that he was elected in the early stages of a long economic boom - not a crisis - and yet he still managed to deliver nothing but grief.

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