19 March 2015, The Tablet

Better skills are the way out of poverty

The announcement of another large fall in unemployment in Britain – at a rate of 5.7 per cent, the lowest in Europe – gave the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, a very favourable launch platform for his Budget statement this week. Unemployment is a great social evil. Mr Osborne is entitled to all due credit for this achievement even if some of the reasons for it do not arise directly from his economic policy. But it is a fact of political life that the solution to one serious problem often creates another. In this case the rise in employment was substantially due to an increase in low-paid jobs which have had to be subsidised, very expensively, by the state. Mr Osborne’s assumption is that further economic growth will raise living standards across the board an
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