SOCIAL POLICY: UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE UK
There are very many social problems in the world today that afflict many societies and governments as well. Among the common social problems in the world to day include unemployment, drug abuse, immigration, homelessness, poor neighbors, asylum seekers, prostitution and among many others. According to Threlfall (2000) the UK has not been left out of this and has witnessed its fair share of social problems. Among the social problems that have over the years haunted this economy include unemployment that has been associated with a surge in the countries population. These have led to the introduction of policies that highlight ways of curbing and dealing with these problems with a view of eliminating them.
Unemployment as a social problem.
According to Alcook (2003) unemployment is the phrase used to describe an individual or a group of persons who are willing to be employed or to work by they do not have any form of occupation. Unemployment affects a large number of persons in the society today. Unemployment is a social problem because it affects a big portion of the society and has the ability to be alleviated by efforts from an alliance of persons.
Unemployment brings about negative effects to the society and also to the countries economy. This is because unemployment brings about many economic problems to the society. Most of them struggle to survive because they do not have a stable source of their finances.
When individuals are unemployed for long, they experience many social and economic problems as they try to survive in the society. Unemployment has many unfavorable effects. First of all, it can be very damaging to the individual. For instance, if a very hard working man looses his job, and he has been providing for his family with the income he has been getting, then he cannot provide for his family anymore without a stable job and this can be damaging to his self esteem. In addition, when people are out of work they can no longer afford to purchase things they used to. This can be damaging to the economy (Hasluck, 2001).
Unemployment is divided into long term unemployment and short term unemployment. Long term unemployment is the situation whereby an individual stays for a very long time especially for years without any occupation while short term unemployment is whereby an individual stays for a short period of time like for example less than six months without any particular occupation. Long term unemployment gets extracts a section of the labor force and it segregates it socially and economically (George, 2002). Most of the unemployed persons have the ability to work and they also have the skills and knowledge and are also competent and this makes them to suffer disappointments because they are not able to get themselves the vocation they are searching for.
There are many types of unemployment including frictional unemployment, structural unemployment, cyclical unemployment, Natural Unemployment. According to George (2002) frictional unemployment describes a person’s transition between occupations. In this type of unemployment there is the availability of jobs but an individual has not found one that they are interested in or a job that they are qualified to do. When one takes time to find a job that they are comfortable with, it is beneficial to both the individual and the economy in general.
George (2002) further explains that structural unemployment is another type of unemployment and it is when there is a discrepancy between the jobs that an individual is looking for and the type of jobs that are available and being offered in that specific area at that particular time. One of the causes of structural unemployment is like in situations when employment rises in some sectors and falls in other sectors. The most suitable way of dealing with this is for people to search for jobs in areas where they can benefit from their skilled position.
Cyclical unemployment is the third type of unemployment and it is the result of macroeconomic fluctuations. Cyclical unemployment affects the country as a whole and it can cause tremendous economic problems. On the other hand, natural unemployment is the type of unemployment whereby the government has the ability to lower the rate of unemployment this could lead to an increase in inflation (George, 2002). It is the lowest rate of unemployment that the economy can maintain for a long period of time. It is also known as the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment.
Any individual who is eligible to work and is competent enough to work and does not attempt to find a job for at least a month is known as a discouraged worker. Full employment is whereby available labour is being used in the most effective way. Anyone who is not employed or working is either not willing to work or is incapable of maintaining an occupation. There are very many factors that can lead to people being unemployed.
Different perspectives of unemployment as a social problem
There are different perspectives of unemployment as a social problem ranging from the institution of poor government policy to reluctance in the growth of the economy ganging up to push up the rates of unemployment. Generally, unemployment is caused by a number of factors and not a single factor as many would presume. To start with, increasing technology is one of the basic factors that lead to unemployment in the current world. This is because technology reduces the amount of work force needed by organizations hence making the organizations to require a less number of employees. Also, there exists the problem of a mismatch in the type of jobs in situations whereby the skills that an individual posses are different from those that the job requires. A job could be available but an individual cannot do the particular work because he or she is not competent enough for that particular job (Compston, 1997).
Increased cost of living also leads to unemployment because many organizations watch on the number of employees they employ in order to reduce on expenses. Also increased cost of living leads to inflation of the prices of commodities. For instance, in the automobile industry today, high oil prices reduce the company profits forcing the organization to cut on the number of employees (Fothergill, 2001).
Lack of proper training is also another cause of unemployment because the employers cannot hire individuals who are not competent enough for a particular job. Proper training requires funds and due to insufficient funding, many individuals do not get the training that is required and they hence end up unemployed.
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Consequences of unemployment
Compston (1997 asserts that many consequences of unemployment are manifested in psychological and behavioral deformations of personality .Some of these consequences of unemployment include but are not limited to general effects on the societal and individual welfare. To start with, there is a notable rise in crime rates. This is because people are unable to meet their needs through work. Parents are not able to provide for their families and this leads to crime rates as the unemployed look for means of providing to their families.
In addition, Tran (2002) is of the opinion that the ability of government to provide for people is also seriously compromised. When there is high unemployment, citizens pay less income taxes and also pay less in sales taxes because they purchase fewer goods and services. In addition, the loss of income and the resulting hardships to the individual and his or her family is the most obvious and direct effect of unemployment. In addition the unemployed person also suffers from loss of self respect and dignity. Unemployed individuals also feel a sense of insecurity even if they have enough financial resources to tide over the period of unemployment.
At the same time, Fothergill (2001 further explains that unemployment also leads to other economic problems such as Wealth drainage. In this case, when an individual is unemployed, the government provides financial assistance which is partly untaxed. Wealth is drained from the economy for unproductive purposes and economic growth slows down as there are fewer funds for infrastructural development.
Moreover, there results a slack in flow of money in the economy leading to the creation of gaps that hinder economic growth and development. Circular flow of income is the lifeline of a flourishing economy. Unemployment slows down this flow by the lack of money inflow and outflow. When money is not pumping in the economy, its growth becomes sluggish. An economy may show signs of jobless recovery with continual increase in the rate of unemployment (Silburn, 2007).
To add on to this, unemployment also leads to the creation of take-home pay inflation that results into individuals not being able to meet their financial obligations and therefore they opt for credit facilities. Due to increase in competition for jobs and wide availability of labor, the cost of labor decreases significantly (Compston, 1997). Those who are employed will be severely affected in case of rise in unemployment in the economy. Noticeably, reduction in wages and salary leads to decrease in the amount of tax collection on the income. This further hinders the scope of availability of sufficient funds to pump into the economy.
Similarly, there is a significant reduction in consumer expenditure the unemployed are naturally trying to stretch their financial assets for a longer duration due to the uncertainty of the end of unemployment. This leads to a decrease in consumer expenditure due to financial limitations and greatly affects the retail sector.
According to Bivand, P. (2002), unemployment also leads to the underutilization of resources in which case high unemployment rate denotes wastage of labor productivity, underutilization of the capacity of machinery and raw materials available to produce output supplied to match the reduction in demand for products and services. Negative growth in demand and supply leads to deflation in order to promote consumer expenditure.
Ellison and Pierson (2001) further assert that unemployment leads to a rise in debts.
This happens through the decrease in availability of funds with the government to invest in public spending, coupled with fall in revenue generated from tax collection, and has a cumulative effect on the size of the fiscal budget available for social welfare. The government instinctively raises tax rates. Lesser capital flow in the economy encourages debts and borrowings that have to be paid along with interest. Since people are unemployed or earning lesser income, it becomes harder to repay debts.
Further, unemployment leads to a substantial decrease in return on investment in that higher deficit in the current account is another outcome of high unemployment in the economy. Lack of federal spending due to unavailability of financial resources and devaluation of the currency leaves feelings of ambiguity towards the future among investors. Fall in the net national income and investment induces decrease in return on investment. Moreover, investors may even begin pulling out money from the economy to invest in promising industries belonging to prosperous economies. Glynn (1999) explains that unemployment also means that people have less money to pay income tax on and less money to buy goods and services. Thus the tax collection by government goes down due to unemployment and it affects the entire society.
Policy responses to unemployment as a social problem
There are several ways that unemployment can be dealt with at a personal and government levels with the most important being policy response. This has been the case in the UK over the past several years with the government rising to the occasion to ensure that the unemployment rates are brought down. This has been through the institution of both long term and short term government policy measures that will effectively reduce the unemployment rates in the country. Firstly, according to Haralambos (2002) the UK government has tackled unemployment through increased funding in educational institutions and career fairs that help people find jobs. This has made it easier for people to secure jobs as they are properly trained and therefore the chances of them securing a job are high hence leading to a substantial reduction in unemployment rates. When an individual is well trained and is educated, they have high chances of getting a job and this hence reduces the level of unemployment.
Another way through which the UK government has tackled unemployment is through the provision of mechanisms that enhance and enable the unemployed to search for jobs using every available resource such as newspapers, television, radio, classifieds, and friends. The government should as such provide and support mechanisms that make it easier for individuals to easily search for existing jobs according to their qualifications. It may be necessary and also much more beneficial for people who are unemployed to not just look for local jobs but rather to search in other parts of the country or even abroad
In addition, according to Alcook (2003) an individual who is unemployed can learn to budget money and not buy things that are completely unnecessary. The government has therefore sponsored initiatives that assist the unemployed easily handle the situation so that they are not tempted to criminal activities. There have been fruitful efforts that offer short term and temporary job opportunities to the unemployed youth in the country both in the public and private sectors through a collaboration between the government and the private sector. This has enabled the unemployed to secure even better opportunities owing to the experience gained through the short term job opportunities. Also, it is wise for both the government and institution to educate the population on the need to plan for unemployment by setting aside some money so that there is not such an immediate need to find a job.
In conclusion, unemployment is a good lagging indicator of an economy’s health and everything should be done by a government to reduce its effects in terms of policy measures. In fact, the effect of unemployment on an economy is of such significance that it even helps the government shape monetary and fiscal policies .your occupational status, employed or unemployed, defines social status on an individual level and within your social network. On the collective echelon, lofty unemployment is a sign of a dysfunctional society. However, there is a lot that the government can do to put and keep the problem of unemployment under control and significantly reduce the harmful effects of unemployment to the economy. The UK government has considerably dealt with this social problem but there still lies a lot that needs to be done to effectively curb unemployment.
Alcook, P. (2003): Student’s companion to social policy, New Jersey, NJ: Blackwell Publishers.
Bivand, P. (2002), Economic inactivity and social exclusion, Buckingham: Open University Press.
Compston, H. (1997). New politics of unemployment, London: Rout ledge Publishers
Ellison, N. and Pierson, C. (2001). Developments in British social policy, London: Macmillan Publishers
Fothergill, S. (2001) ‘there’s work to be done’ the guardian, June 12.
George, V. (2002). Globalization and human welfare, New York: Palgrave Publishers.
Glynn, S. (1999) ‘employment in Europe in the 21st century, New Jersey, NJ: John Willey & sons
Haralambos, M. (2002). Sociology: themes & perspectives, New Jersey, NJ: Collins Publishers.
Hasluck, C. (2001) ‘lessons from the new deal’ new economy, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Silburn, R. (2007) British social welfare in the twentieth century, New York: Macmillan Publishers
Threlfall, M. (2000) ‘Comparing unemployment in the UK and the EU’, policy and politics, London: Ej Publishing
Tonge, J. (1997). Unemployment and future of work, Council of churches for Britain and Ireland (1997)
Tran, M. (2002) unemployment, the guardian, may 15.
Whiteside, N. (1998) ‘employment policy’ in Britain, London: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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