The Price of Statistics

It’s a sad fact in this modern age that too many people are counting numbers and statistics, and are paying attention to the wrong figures when it comes to helping people. When a country is run on numbers and money, everything else takes a back seat. When the process of helping people becomes a guide book on how many points someone must gain to win their benefits, or how many jobs they must find to win their benefits, people are going to be finding themselves cut loose or lacking support at times when their need is the most dire. And in the climate everyone is in at the moment, that is becoming all the more prevailent in the numbers that these people – in government, in job support companies, generally anyone who has to run the finances – will be checking on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis.

The major flaw with going by numbers? It’s not a personal relationship. You can tell someone that they should be applying for 3 jobs a week. You can tell someone that they have to get 15 points in their claim for Employment Support Allowance. You can say that 16 hours a week should be spent applying for work. How many of these figures take into account personal circumstances, such as the inability to find your way in a town or city you’re lucky to visit once a year? Or perhaps the fact you’re caring for someone that isn’t always capable of looking after themselves? Not every carer is a registered one, not every person is able to read a map or identify landmarks for directions. And these are some of the key points being neglected in this environment of goal points and achievement numbers.

A worse part about this inherent neglect of society in the modern era? Those people conducting the neglect are doing so within the power of the law, and also have such power that they can cease the money that is keeping them alive within a matter of weeks, if not days. All it takes is for one of these people to say “I have no numbers here to give for this person” and the instant those words are said, the timer slams down like a Doom counter on a person’s head until they get their only life support stopped. People working in jobs don’t have that concern, obviously, and since they are the majority, nobody cares about fixing the problem, and that’s inherent with the stereotype attached to people on benefits – which is typically “they’re bullshitting, they should be working, not sitting on their arses 24/7 playing video games or watching Jeremy Kyle every damn morning”.

The absolute worst part, however, is the lack of personal consideration. Those people who are on their last legs have no support whatsoever. There’s people locally that have been told they are fit for work and they have life-shortening illnesses. Weak hearts, brittle bones, cancer, they don’t care – if they don’t meet the 15 point criteria that determines how much support they get with their condition, they don’t get support. And even those that are supposed to give support don’t have any connections whatsoever to help. My greatest hurdle in looking for work is experience – which I have little of, I’m sorry to say – and if there is one thing I want to do, it’s getting experience in a work placement of some kind. If I can say I have that experience under my belt, I’ll be more confident in applying for jobs that rely on that experience, and have a higher chance of obtaining that job in the end. Companies won’t take on inexperienced, however, since it’s a cost to them, and job support services won’t support companies unless there’s a guaranteed job chance at the end of the placement. And there’s no funding to encourage steps to take on interns in the UK from what I have seen, which leaves me to wonder what, exactly, these people paying their taxes are getting for their money.

Another loss when you consider national statistics and guidelines is that they’re not considerate to regional circumstances. Sure, 16 hours a week looking for work may seem sensible to someone in a heavily populated area for work placements and someone who has professional qualifications and can manage their own transport. 3 jobs a DAY may be possible for people living in high density job areas such as London, Cardiff, Manchester, Leeds or wherever. But you take into account a place such as Blaenau Gwent which, according to the Office for National Statistics, had only 169 job vacancies through March this year through the JCP, and there’s no hope of finding 3 suitable, applicable vacancies a day, and those coming out of education this year will struggle to find anything for them as 90% of the jobs posted are requiring experience of some kind which none of them will have.

I have no expectations of finding work personally. I’m 25, my CV is filled with what I’ve done but bare to look at, and I am a victim of a flawed employment support system that this country has run for years and has yet to fix the holes in the bucket for. But unless changes are going to be made to the employment system in the future, I’m not likely to be the last of the failed generation that can see the problems inherent in the system but lack the power and ability to initiate the changes needed in it. If I’ve done anything for myself recently, it’s putting on some Lottery numbers, because I feel that I’ll have more of a chance at winning the jackpot than I will ever have at finding a position of employment that would keep me financially stable for the foreseeable future. And certainly more of a chance of winning than being able to sustain any kind of hope in the employment system as-is.

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