As we approach the festive season it makes sombre reading to learn that the respected research organisation The Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts that in 2015 “Real median net household income forecast to be lower than in 2002-3”. In other words, many people’s spending power will have diminished below what it was in 2002 by 2015. The Financial Times of 1 December 2011, quoting from the IFS report, lists the causes as: “Slow income growth before the downturn, the depth of the recession and the sluggishness of the recovery are combining to create the longest period of stagnation in median real incomes since records began in 1961” (“Britons will be worse off in 2015 than in 2002, IFS study forecasts” Financial Times 1 December 2012).
The latest unemployment figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of people unemployed in the UK increased by 128,000 in the last quarter, (August to October 2011), to stand at a total of 2.64 million which represents 8.3% of the working population. The Daily Mail of 15 December 2011 gave a snapshot of how in Scotland alone between August and October just short of 400 jobs were lost on average every working day.
Solidarity has expressed its concern on several occasions previously over the worrying problem of youth unemployment. Sadly, there has been no progress here with the level of unemployment amongst the 16 to 24 age group standing at 22.0% which is up 1.2% during the last quarter. Youth unemployment is especially worrying as it can lead to young people being permanently excluded from the labour market due to them never having the opportunity to gain work experience and marketable skills. Solidarity once again calls upon the government to tackle the blight of youth unemployment.