The sharp rise in the unemployment rate has left government welfare reform plans in tatters, the Child Poverty Action Group has warned.
Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the number of unemployed people has reached 1.79m. Unemployment increased by around 164,000 in the three months to August 2008, the largest quarterly increase seen since the early 1990s.
The rise led the CPAG to urge the government to scrap its proposals to toughen up the welfare system, which include placing more onus on disabled people and lone parents to seek or prepare for work in return for benefits. CPAG said they relied on high employment and a strong economy.
Markets and welfare plans both ‘bust’
Chief executive Kate Green said: “The markets are now bust and so are the plans. Sanctions for those without work have no moral justification and must now be reined in.”
Green said there was a greater “moral case” for supporting families hit by the economic crisis than for bailing out the banking industry. She continued: “Our future economic security relies more on protecting family security than preserving a failed financial system.”
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations warned that charities that were paid on a results basis for supporting unemployed people to find work – another plank of the welfare reforms – would also suffer. Deputy chief executive Ben Kernighan added: “As unemployment figures rise dramatically, society must take a less punitive view of unemployed people.”