“There are three kinds of lies, lies, damned lies and statistics.” attributed to Mark Twain and quoted by Disraeli.

There was scare story in the Daily Mail on Tuesday reporting a report by “Policy Exchange” predicting 6.8 million unemployed by the end of 2010.

I was trying to make sense of this report which when it said that only 1.6 million are claiming job-seekers allowance.

I read a bit further and found that there are 37 million of working age in Great Britain, so presumably anyone not in paid employment is counted as unemployed, even if they have no need or desire to work!

In the “unemployed” numbers they include 400,000 carers. Have any of the members of this “think tank” ever been a carer? Carers may not be “employed”  but they save the tax payer a huge amount of money by giving devoted care (sometimes for 24 hours a day) for a very small allowance. Yes it would provide plenty of jobs if they all  put their loved ones into the care of the state, at least six staff per patient. That should lower the “unemployed” rate considerably.

Also included, presumably, are stay at home mothers who have put their careers on hold while they do the important job of bringing up their own children. Maybe we would have fewer disfunctional families, if we gave an allowance to enable other mothers, or fathers, to follow their example. There are probably many parents who would take up this offer and free those jobs for  the jobless. 

They include 363,000 claiming disabled benefits and 2.6 million on incapacity benefits. I know that some of these are fraudulent claims, but many of these people are genuine. Some of them would love to work but are physically or mentally unable to sustain a  full time job or to find an employer sympathetic to their special needs.

This survey starts from the flawed basis that everyone  of working age should be in paid employment. On what do they base this? Surely, if we do not claim benefits, it is our business whether we work or not. On their basis the unemployment rate in my childhood must have been sky high because it was very unusual for married women to go out to work, so there’s 50% before we start.  Another large chunk of unemployed were the mentally sick people who were locked away in institutions and the only work they were given was simple craft work, now, with the new drugs and sympathetic employers they are gainfully employed.

When I left school there were ample jobs for the unskilled school leavers in the factories, and many wanted nothing more than the chance to earn a living. They didn’t want vocational or academic jobs, but since the destruction of manufacturing in this country these openings are no longer available to them. 

As someone else said long ago, “Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story!”