A measure of the black economy?

Even allowing for journalistic stretch (this is the Daily Mail, after all) the results of a scheme making unemployment benefit claimers do a month of work are quite shocking. Fully 50% of claimants stop claiming either before starting this or very shortly after; they'd rather forgo the £67.50 per week than do the work.

The result isn't quite as clear-cut as the figures suggest, I expect; after all, for a 40 hour week, unemployment benefit is only paying a little over £1.50 per hour. Even if you figure that this scheme requires work only 1 month of every 3, that's still a £4.50/hour rate, well under minimum wage. If you're not overly worried about getting back into work, or expect to do so within a few months, it's not really rational to participate. Pay an extra benefit of £5/hour for those participating in the scheme, taking them over minimum wage, and it might be different.

Still, it's rather worrying if you're a taxpayer - a substantial fraction of unemployment benefit claimants clearly don't intend to work a regular job in the future. This is another validation of the saying that any government can have all the unemployment it's willing to pay for.

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