Jargon, plain English and local government

Jargon, plain English and local government

Late last week I received an email newsletter from a national organisation about local government issues.

The lead piece was titled “What’s stopping local government from using plain English?” and linked to an interesting online debate about the use of language in local government (something I’ve blogged about previously).

The next article was entitled “Reducing worklessness and raising skills”.

Sometimes I know I find myself slipping into public sector-speak, but how many people know what “worklessness” is?

Surely that’s a classic example of not using plain English?

Anyway, if you want to know what worklessness is, here’s a definition, thanks to the London Development Agency:

Detachment from the formal labour market in particular areas, and among particular groups.

Workless individuals include individuals who are unemployed and claiming unemployment benefits, individuals who are economically inactive and eligible for inactive benefits (who may or may not be claiming them), and individuals who are working exclusively in the informal economy (who may or may not be also claiming benefits)

What’s wrong with “people not working” as a plain English alternative I don’t know…


I work as a fractional Chief Operating Officer (COO), consultant and advisor. I created the B3 framework® for company building and I also write a newsletter called Build for leaders who care about creating resilient and sustainable businesses.