Jobless figures are a `fiddle on a grand scale'

Britain's headline unemployment figures are "a fiddle on an orchestral scale", according to the chairman of the House of Commons employment committee. In a majority report released yesterday, the committee said a monthly survey-based measure recommended by official statisticians would be an improvement on the present count of the number claiming unemployment benefit each month.

Greville Janner, the Labour chairman of the committee, said: "The figures are fiddled not because they are in themselves inaccurate but because you fiddle figures by selecting which ones to produce." Numerous administrative changes in unemployment benefit meant the public had lost confidence in the claimant count as a measure of unemployment, he said.

The report goes further, arguing that neither the headline claimant count nor the alternative Labour Force Survey measure included all the people who wanted full-time jobs and could not find them. The committee therefore recommended publication of a range of other unemployment figures - which could include discouraged workers or part-timers who would prefer full- time work. The widest of these would take the unemployment total to 4.8 million.

The report, which adds to the pressure on Chancellor Kenneth Clarke to adopt a new unemployment measure, was opposed by four Conservative committee members. But one Tory - Sir Ralph Howell, who recently joined Labour's Frank Field in backing a Right to Work "workfare" bill - voted in favour.

Tim Yeo, one of the Conservative opponents, said: "People who claim that actual unemployment is much higher than 2.3 million are unable to substantiate it." He agreed, however, that it would be helpful to give more prominence to the Labour Force Survey measure, currently available quarterly.

Yesterday's report was less decisive in its call for a monthly LFS unemployment figure than a recent report by a Central Statistical Office working party. The CSO's study was itself a response to a damning inquiry into the adequacy of the claimant count measure by the independent Royal Statistical Society last summer.

The Chancellor is due to decide whether to opt for a monthly LFS figure, at an additional annual cost of pounds 7m to pounds 8m, after consultation on the CSO's recommendations.

Comment, page 21

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Langley James : IT Support; Helpdesk, VMware; Manchester, £18k

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Langley James : IT Support; Helpdesk, VMware; Manch...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HRO - £70k+ ote

£35000 - £450000 per annum + £3k car, £70k ote: h2 Recruit Ltd: Do you want to...

Citifocus Ltd: Newly Qualified Accountants - Risk Mgmt

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious financial institution seeks to...

Citifocus Ltd: Operational Risk Analyst

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: Experienced operational risk professional with ban...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital