DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Get Britain out of its sick bed and into work
On the face of it, the UK’s headline unemployment figure of 1.3million published yesterday makes encouraging reading.
It means just 3.9 per cent of the working-age population are looking for work and have been unable to find it. This compares with six per cent across the EU.
In the smaller print below the headline, however, lurks a much more ominous story. One that threatens to strangle growth and dash hopes of economic recovery.
A staggering 2.55million people aged 16 to 64 are long-term sick and apparently unable to work at all. Over a million are under 50, including 234,000 under 25. This is 400,000 more than before the pandemic and appears still to be rising. So why?
The parlous state of the NHS is likely to have had an effect. The difficulty in making GP appointments and 7.3million on treatment waiting lists may well have led to minor ailments becoming major.
3.9 per cent of the working-age population are looking for work and have been unable to find it
Home working has fuelled ill-health. Then there are the effects of furlough and lockdown on the nation’s energy levels. It’s no surprise that the result of paying millions of people to do no work for 18 months has been an alternative pandemic of idleness.
Sick leave is exceptionally generous – especially in the public sector. And ministers imposing the highest tax burden for 80 years reduces the incentive to work hard.
Whatever the reasons, it is a massive drain on the nation’s resources, with fewer workers paying higher taxes to support ever rising numbers claiming sickness benefits. If even a fraction found work, it would slash the welfare bill, increase productivity and boost tax receipts.
Should sickness levels continue ticking up, however, we are in danger of slipping back into the ‘cycle of dependency’ that Iain Duncan Smith worked so hard to break more than a decade ago.
A staggering 2.55million people aged 16 to 64 are long-term sick and apparently unable to work at all
What he recognised was that worklessness could be contagious and pass through generations, with consequent damage to mental health, pride and morale.
His solution was to make work pay. No one is suggesting forcing sick people into commuting, but in this day and age, with manifold technical aids to home working, many of them should be capable of taking on some paid employment.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has recognised this with his carrot-and-stick approach to coax the long-term ill into jobs. Yesterday’s numbers suggest he might use a little less carrot and a little more stick. Because at the moment, Britain isn’t working.
The great strike myth
At the Royal College of Nursing conference, a delegate explained the real motivation behind the strikes paralysing the NHS.
To thunderous applause, healthcare assistant Anna Pichierri said they were part of a struggle to defeat ‘this Tory, racist and anti-working class government’.
This must come as great comfort to those patients whose safety they are risking.
Healthcare assistant Anna Pichierri said strikes were part of a struggle to defeat ‘this Tory, racist and anti-working class government’
Sadly, nurses are not alone in their anti-Conservative crusade. Britain lost a ruinous 2million working days to strike action last year, mainly across the public sector.
Now unions have let slip the reason for the mayhem, isn’t it time ministers toughened up anti-strike laws to protect the public from their infantile political games?
Rishi bares his teeth
The European Court of Human Rights’ misuse of its ‘Rule 39’ powers to block the UK deporting illegal migrants to Rwanda is an egregious affront to sovereignty.
The European Court of Human Rights’ misuse of its ‘Rule 39’ powers to block the UK deporting illegal migrants to Rwanda is an egregious affront to sovereignty
So Rishi Sunak is right to impress upon Strasbourg judges the need to reform these controversial temporary injunctions.
It is, of course, their prerogative to refuse. But it’s the Prime Minister’s prerogative to then press on with proposals to prevent them meddling in domestic immigration law altogether. The court might complain bitterly – but it can’t say it wasn’t warned.
Source: Read Full Article