The government's planning a big rise in spending on training in the hope of getting the unemployed back to work. Is this cost-effective?
Take a married couple with one child with both out of work. Let's say one of them gets a full-time minimum wage job, paying £220.80 a week (40 hours at £5.52) . How much would this save the taxpayer?
Out of work, this family gets benefits of £320.62 a week (table 1.5d of this pdf). In work, they still get net state benefits of £118.77 a week, in tax credits and housing benefit.
The taxpayer therefore saves just over £200 a week.
If we assume - heroically - that half of the 824,800 claimant count unemployed find work this way, the taxpayer saves a total of £4.4bn a year. If - heroically again - all this saving is used to cut income tax, we'd save a mere £3.10 for every £100 of income tax we pay.
And against this saving, we must weigh the cost of training people up to get basic skills: the total training budget is £11bn.
The benefits to the taxpayer are, therefore, small.
But what of the benefit to the unemployed? In our example, their income rises by just £36.25 a week - less than £1 an hour.
The message here is simple. In narrow financial terms, the benefit of shifting people from unemployment to low-paid work is small, to both the worker and taxpayers generally.
You might reply that work - even minimum wage work - is a stepping stone to better things, to better-paid jobs. But it ain't.
The strongest justification for schemes to move the unemployed into work is probably the non-financial gain. There's evidence that the employed are happier than the jobless. But how strongly does this weigh in Boss Party thinking?