Friday, 26 November 2010


"Young people in the UK are twice as likely as their counterparts in other rich countries to be so seriously ill or incapacitated that they cannot work and must live off disability benefits, an international study on welfare has found."

Surely that should read: "Young people in the UK are twice as likely as their counterparts in other rich countries to claim to be so seriously ill or incapacitated that they cannot work and must live off disability benefits, an international study on welfare has found."

"The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said it was an "extremely worrying fact" that among 20- to 34- year-olds, rates for disability payments are around 2% in most countries, but 4% in the UK."

No kidding

"Chris Grayling, the work and pensions minister, said he thought the high rates in the UK were a result of 'more children growing up in workless households than in other parts of Europe. Growing up with high levels of dependency shapes your outlook.'

Around 2 million children live in households where no one works – one in six youngsters in Britain. This rate is almost twice the EU average."

Sounds about right - so why not (a) make it so that benefits are always worse than working, by a significant amount (ffs, it's meant to be a safety net, not a hammock) and (b) discourage the continued spawning by those who are not working (when the system makes it impossible for people in low paying jobs to afford kids, but those with no jobs are advantaged by having kids, something is wrong)

"The report says ... there has been a "big shift" in the reasons for making a disability benefit claim. Mental health problems have replaced physical causes for long-term sickness payments."

That might be because we're checking for physical problems now.  If you can fake a mental illness, you've got it made.

"In Britain, two-fifths of those claiming benefits because of depression or mental health issues are aged between 20 and 34."

See above.

"Professor Malcolm Harrington, the occupational health specialist tasked with improving the government's medical assessments, has told ministers that 'people do not attempt to get benefits by pretending they are mentally ill'."

Oh, well that's ok then.  He's a Professor, so he must know what he's talking about...

"In the mid-eighties, the number of people receiving unemployment benefit was "three or four times" higher than those claiming disability benefit. But an inexorable rise in claims saw the number of people on disability benefits exceed the number of unemployed in 1997.

Today 7% of Britons of working age receive disability benefit, above the OECD average of 5.7%. In Japan the comparable figure is less than 2%."

WTF?  7% of our working age population are apparently so disabled that they can't work?  Seriously, that can't be right.  And there were more people disabled than unemployed?  I really hope that's no longer true...

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Stopping the wrong type of immigrants

The government are capping the number of skilled non-EU workers that can enter the UK to 21,700 per year. 

There are a few problems with this.  Just from looking at the press release we see:
- It only affects those coming from outside the EU (we could have millions coming from inside the EU and we'd be powerless to stop it)
- It doesn't affect intra-company transfers of those who earn at least £40,000 per year and who will be staying for between 1 and 5 years

But the biggest point from my point of view is:

- It limits the number of "skilled" people that can come in

I don't care how many people come here, work, pay taxes and generally contribute to the UK.  What I object to is those that come here (or are born here, to be fair) to claim benefits, lounge around and do nothing productive except produce children, the better to get money from the taxpayer.

The government's own figures (from here ) show that 567,000 people arrived to live in the UK from abroad in 2009.  A number of these were British, and a number of the non-British people already in the country left, so to be fair we should look at the net number of non-British citizens entering (after subtracting those that left) which was 242,000.  Almost a quarter of a million.

Of these, 58,000 were from the EU, 105,000 from the commonwealth and 79,000 from elsewhere.

We don't have figures on how many have jobs lined up here, but apparently a number were asked what their purpose for coming here was.  This being a survey, it's likely not worth the paper it's written on, but taking it at face value we find that 37% of those coming to this country claimed to be doing so for "formal study".  This is a great wheeze - claim to be a student and you get into the country easy.  Apparently there are a number of supposed schools that will charge minimal fees and send you authentic looking paperwork but then hold no classes, their sole purpose is to get you into the country.  Once you're here you can claim all sorts of benefits.  I'm sure a goodly number of the people claiming to be here for "formal study" genuinely were, but I doubt that it applies to all of them.

23% had a "definite job" lined up.  That doesn't sound too bad, does it?  Well, it does if you think about it.  Last year we had a net increase in population of 242,000 and 56,000 had a job lined up.  That's 186,000 people ready to suckle on the state benefits teat who've contributed absolutely nothing towards it.

11% claimed to be looking for work.  Nuff said.

13% were here to accompany or join someone else.  So that'd be the wife/kids/extended family of the few who come here to work?  Or of the previous folks who've come here to sponge off the state.  Either way, more mouths to feed...

6% gave no reason and 9% said "other".  Probably not something that will get them paid regularly, at any rate...

The latest statistics I can find for births are in 2008 (deaths go up to 2009, but for comparison I'm using the 2008 figures).  There were a total of 708,711 babies born in 2008 (see here).  This compares with a total number of deaths of 509,090 (see here - this includes 1,261 deaths of people resident in another country but present in the UK - I assume the same thing happens when our holidaymakers die abroad, so will leave these in the total for now).  The net increase in population was 199,621.  We can already see that the growth through immigration is faster than the growth through birth.

Now, we should also consider that some of the births and deaths will be of those were not originally from the UK (I'm not going to touch on what it takes to become a UK citizen or the like, largely as we don't have figures for that sort of thing).  Deaths would be mostly of the elderly, and I would imagine that the non-UK born represent a smaller proportion of the elderly than other age groups, still in the absence of a detailed breakdown it seems only fair to assume that the proportion of deaths attributed to non-uk born individuals is in proportion to the number in the UK.  From here we see that an estimated 10.6% of the population were non-uk born, so the total UK born deaths can be considered to be approximately 89.4% of 509090 = 455,126.

Births on the other hand seem to be a little more skewed (as we'd expect, if we thought about it - the UK birth rate has been quite low for a while,  until the immigration started to ramp up).  This suggests that 21.9% of the births in 2007 (latest figures I could find) were to foreign born women.  This means that 78.1% of 708,711 = 553,503 births in 2008 were to UK born women (assuming the percentage born to foreign born women hasn't changed - in fact it's probably gone up).

Thus the actual net change of uk population from "native" birth is 98,377.  This compares to 242,000 immigrants and 101,244 births to immigrants - a total increase of 343,244.

So it's not all that surprising that people are getting annoyed about immigration - but putting a little cap on the number of actually useful people that come here really isn't helping anything.

(incidentally, like I said - I have no objection to people coming here and working.  That means that things get done, the govt takes money from them in tax and I end up paying less over all.  When people come here to sponge, then I end up paying more, and that annoys me.  Likewise, when people born here sponge, or have a dozen kids to get more benefits, that annoys me)

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Vince Cable has no idea what he's doing

I've just seen this article at (EDIT: hidden behind a paywall - try this link instead).
Businesses could be asked to pay levies to underwrite the cost of training and employees might be required to hold licences to participate in certain trades, under government plans to improve the country’s skills.
I'm not really sure where to start on this...  If a company wants their staff to be trained in particular things, surely it's easy enough for them to arrange the training...
Mr Cable said: “Some firms are reluctant to train because they fear losing their trainees to their competitors.”
Let's see - if they train them, they end up with competent staff who may end up going elsewhere.  The answer to that is to make sure that the pay you offer is competitive. If you don't train your staff, you end up with incompetent staff who will stay with you - I don't see that this is a good thing.
The plans also proposed a “licence to practice” for workers in some sectors. “We want to encourage a wider set of industries . . . to consider where the introduction of clear professional standards will benefit an industry,” the report said.
They want to encourage the industries to consider whether or not they want anyone new coming into the field to have to arrange for a "licence"?  Is that really wise?

Consider the question put to the fast food market.  Clearly dominated by McDonalds and Burger King, both of whom would be able to procure licences in bulk.  Would McDonalds and Burger King like it if all fast food staff needed a licence?  You bet they would - the extra costs would drive down competition and make staff have to come to them - if anything, it would lead to a cut in the pay.

So why should companies be forced to pay towards "...statutory and voluntary training levies..." that they likely don't need?  I know that Vince Cable doesn't get it, but really they should employ someone to sit beside him and point out that government run schemes are always very inefficient and thus money would be wasted.  If companies want their staff to be trained, then they'll arrange the training.  Why does government have to get involved?  Contrary to what some think, there are some of us who can think for ourselves and don't need the government's help to spend our money.