Do you know? How are we going to resolve the ever-increasing number of people abandoned by the labour market and benefits system? The November employment figures show that there has been a further improvement in the number of people in work and even a small increase in pay levels.      You can subscribe to the free newsletters from the Centre for Social and Economic Inclusion: info@cesi.org.uk. However, while people are moving off JSA in to work, there is very little movement amongst those who are unemployed and not claiming benefits – now more than half of all those who are unemployed (ILO definition).  There has also been an increase in those claiming sickness benefits.      Overall, it looks as if the economic situation underpinned by the Work Programme that is succeeding at rates comparable with previous back- to-work interventions is reducing the JSA claimant count but the benefits systems and sanctions continue to increase the numbers who are now farthest from the labour market.  As political parties rev up for the 2015 election, it will be telling as to the policies and strategies they offer to tackle the employability of these most marginalised groups.  They are going to be difficult to engage as being no longer in contact with the “system”, long-term separation from work will have reduced/de-valued their skills, their work motivation may be low as they have gained different survival skills and, across the board, their health is likely to have deteriorated.  They are going to be a challenging and expensive group to reintegrate in to the labour market.  It’s also going to take considerable time so early action in 2015 will be needed if the country is going to meet the labour demands to sustain continuing economic growth.  The alternative may be increasing reliance on imported labour with all the political consequences that this could mean. Bouquet of the Week. Karen who helped me clear up: I’ve been making my own crystallised candied orange and lemon peel for Christmas.  Once the fruit has been simmered until soft, it is reheated daily over a week in an increasingly thick sugar syrup.  After the final heating, it’s poured in to a sieve to remove the syrup for another batch.  It was all going swimmingly until this stage – just a bit crunchy underfoot with sugar.  But I couldn’t understand why there was a tidal wave of hot syrup all over the work surface – until I realised the sieve was over a colander rather than a bowl!  Trying to clear up was a nightmare –warm honey-like syrup lapping up the tiles and dripping on to the floor.  Every bit of clothing had to go in the wash and my shoes in to the shower.  Everywhere I walked I could hear my feet sticking to the floor.  Thank heavens for Karen who came in the next day to sort me out. Yours stickily, Penny Melville-Brown penny@laylands.co.uk
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