Tagged: Bank of England

Anti-Austerity Protests: Tens Of Thousands Rally Across UK

Forty-four days after David Cameron gained an unexpected majority on a dramatic general election night, opposition parties are still picking themselves up from the floor. But on the streets of Britain, tens of thousands of people took up their placards and filled the streets of London, Glasgow and elsewhere for the first major protest against the government’s plans for five more years of austerity.

Estimates of the size of the rally in central London on Saturday varied between 70,000 and more than 150,000; in Glasgow’s George Square several thousand gathered and there were smaller demonstrations reported in other cities, including Liverpool and Bristol.

“We’re here to say austerity isn’t working,” said Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, to great applause from the crowds in Parliament Square at the end of the march. “We’re here to say that it wasn’t people on Jobseekers’ Allowance that brought down the banks.

“It wasn’t nurses and teachers and firefighters who were recklessly gambling on international markets. And so we should stop the policies that are making them pay for a crisis that wasn’t there making.”

Marching under the banner End Austerity Now, protesters denounced public sector cuts, the treatment of the disabled and the vulnerable through welfare cuts, the privatisation of the NHS.

Teachers, nurses, lawyers and union groups marched under their own banners. Chants and songs demanded an end to Tory government, equality and more help for the poor. A sprinkling of celebrity faces – Russell Brand, Charlotte Church and actor Richard Coyle – were among the crowd.

The deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, told the rally:

“It is David Cameron’s cabinet of millionaires – they are the people who are the real spongers. They are the people who are given free rein to live out their Thatcherite fantasies at the expense of ordinary, decent communities throughout these islands.”

Protesters set off from outside the Bank of England, and by the time the march reached Westminster – its final destination – a sea of banners, placards and flags stretched for more than a mile down Whitehall and past Trafalgar Square.

Full story :  http://northstar.boards.net/thread/108/anti-austerity-protests-thousands-rally

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North East Labour MPs call for lurch to left and 83% of party grassroots back them

The vast majority of Labour supporters back a set of left-wing policies proposed by three North MPs, a poll shows.

Ian Lavery, Ian Mearns and Grahame Morris, MPs for Wansbeck, Gateshead and Easington, signed a letter calling for a number of changes to their party’s policies, and a poll by Labour List shows 83% of supporters back them.

The statement called for the re-nationalisation of the railways, ahead of the East Coast Main Line returning to private hands, and an end to austerity measures.

It comes as Labour figures make the finishing touches to the election manifesto, eyeing both a surge by the Greens and the threat of Ukip.

The poll shows that Labour’s grassroots are for the party lurching to the left. Ed Miliband is unlikely to sanction such a move, however, in the wake of recent criticism from business leaders, including that of Boots boss Stefano Pessina, who said the party winning power would be a “catastrophe” for the country.

> So he should do it just to piss Pessina off ! Him and his ilk aren’t likely to be Labour supporters anyway, so where’s the problem ? Are you really for the people Ed, or for big business interests ?

No, don’t bother answering that. I think we already know the answer.

Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck, said the MPs’ proposal is “hardly revolutionary” and called for the party to be “a little bit bolder”.

He said:

“Currently the party policy makers are drawing up the long-awaited manifestos.

“It’s a critical period when politicians should ensure the voice of their constituents should be heard. Rail Nationalisation, Trade Union Rights and collective bargaining in the workplace and a change in focus on austerity are issues the general public are hankering for, and why not.

“These simple policies are hardly revolutionary and would impact greatly on those who have faced the brunt of the relentless attacks of the coalition Government.

“Report after report show it’s the less well off who are shouldering biggest burden in today’s society we must endeavour to change this unacceptable situation.

“Politics is about decisions it’s about choice, despite the excellent policies on offer from the Labour Party we need to move a little further and influence the decision makers these issues are exceptionally appealing to our natural voters.

“Being that little bit bolder under the excellent leadership of Ed Miliband would undoubtedly pay dividends for the party, and the constituents we represent.”

> Ed Milliband an excellent leader ? Sections of the media, of course, try to portray him as something of a weirdo. Speaking as someone who has spent much of his life in the company of weirdos and who, truth to tell, is probably a weirdo too, my complaint is that Ed is not weird enough !

He just comes over as another identikit career politician, to be honest. He could be leading the Conservatives and not look out of place.

Most damning of all, he comes across as Blair Junior, which is a bit like being Satan Junior to many of those people who used to vote Labour before it became New.

Ian Mearns, MP for Gateshead, added:

“Most people, including the former head of the Bank of England, know that it wasn’t the last Labour Government that crashed the economy, it was an international financial and banking crisis – yet it seems that the people who crashed the economy, the bankers, are the individuals who are personally profiting from the situation while urging cuts, pain and austerity for the vast majority of the population.

“Austerity and the pain that goes with it, is not necessary – it is a set of political and economic policy choices. There are alternatives and we should explore those alternatives for the benefit of the many rather than the few.”

All of the main parties have yet to publish their manifestos.

Source –  Newcastle Journal, 04 Feb 2015

HAS INEQUALITY REDUCED SINCE THE CONSERVATIVE-LIBDEM GOVERNMENT OF 2010? YES, AND NO.

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

Reposted from Ripped off Britons

In a bakery not far away there was a baker, who treated his customers extremely unequally. To some he gave plain buns, others spiced buns with candied fruit, and to others iced buns. He said the bankers worked harder than the nurses, and so deserved the icing. And the accountants were cleverer than the teachers but didn’t work as hard as the bankers, so they deserved the candied fruit buns. Iced buns are much better than plain buns, inequality was very great.

One day the icing machine crashed, due to a leak in the water pipes leading it to flood. With no icing there were no iced buns. The bankers could only get the spiced variety. Now spiced buns are better than plain buns, but less so than iced buns. Inequality was reduced! At least until the icing machine got bailed out.

The Tories are…

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Houses cost five times the average wage in the North East

Concerns have been raised that aspiring North-East homeowners are being priced out of the property market as houses now cost five times the average wage.

The TUC’s analysis of average salaries and house prices by local authority area shows that in 1997 the average house price in every area of the North-East was less than four times the average salary.

By 2013 not a single area had this level of affordability.

The affordability ratio of five is particularly significant, says the TUC, as the Bank of England has recently instructed banks to limit the proportion of mortgages they offer that are more than 4.5 times applicants’ salaries.

The TUC believes that the combination of soaring house prices, stagnating pay in the run-up to the economic crash and the longest real wage squeeze in over a century will leave house prices more out of reach than ever before.

Although average house prices have not yet reached their pre-recession peak in many parts of the North-East, wage levels mean that buying a home remains out of reach for local people, says the TUC.

Their analysis found that wages in the North-East fell by around £1,320 a year in real terms between 2010 and 2013.

TUC regional Beth Farhat said:
“Over the last 16 years, house price rises have outstripped peoples’ pay packets and left huge swathes of the region unaffordable.

“Last year, house prices in nearly half the North-East’s local authority areas were more than five times the average local salary.

“Unfortunately, the situation is compounded because our region has the highest unemployment rate and the lowest wages in the country.”

Ms Farhat said an ambitious house building programme was needed to get prices back under control and better rent deals were needed for people struggling to get on the property ladder.

She added:

“Housing affordability isn’t just about house prices though.

“At the moment, earnings and house prices are going in opposite directions, pricing ordinary people out and denying them something as fundamental as a roof over their head.

“More and better jobs and decent wages would go a long way to limiting the impact of property price hikes for everyone.”

In both 1997 and 2013, Northumberland was the most unaffordable area in the North-East, where last year the average house price was almost six times the local average salary.

In 1997, Redcar and Cleveland was the most affordable but that has now been replaced by Middlesbrough.

Nationally, Copeland in the Lake District is the last local authority area left in Britain where average house prices were less than three times the average annual salary.

The top five least affordable areas are in London, with Kensington and Chelsea having average house prices more than 30 times the average local salary.

Source –  Northern Echo,  01 Sept 2014

Concerns Grow Over Poor Wage Growth As Self Employment Soars

A rise in employment and sharp drop in the number of people out of work has had little effect on the scandal of low wages, the latest figures show.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Wednesday show that the UK unemployment rate has fallen sharply by 132,000 between April and June to 6.4%, the lowest since 2008, with a total of 2.08 million unemployed people in the UK. The figure does not include the 8.68 million people who are regarded as being ‘economically inactive’, or unavailable/unable to work. The economic inactivity rate now stands at 21.9% and is unchanged compared with January to March 2014.

ONS figures also show that there were 30.6 million people in work between April and June 2014, 167,000 more than January to March 2014 and 820,000 more than a year ago.
However, the welcome rise in employment has been overshadowed by the lowest wage growth in thirteen years. Wages have risen by a meagre 0.6% over the last year – a real-terms fall when inflation and living costs are taken into account.

The lower than expected wage growth figures come at the same time as other figures show that the UK is now the self employment capital of western Europe. Figures from the think tank IPPR show that the number of self-employed people in the UK has grown by more than 1.5 million over the last thirteen years, growing at its fastest rate during the first quarters of 2013 and 2014. Self employed people now represent more than 15% of the workforce. Around two-fifths of all jobs created since 2010 have been in self-employment.

Unions have expressed concerns that self-employment can often be insecure and low-paid, and may not always include the employment rights other workers are accustomed to.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The British economy is in a Jekyll and Hyde situation.

“While the fall in the jobless total of 132,000 is welcome, we have to ask what sort of jobs have those people entered? The situation is compounded by the fact that more and more people are being driven into so-called self-employment in a desperate bid to get off benefits and find work.

“Self-employment is not the economic panacea that ministers crow about; it forces workers into a state without rights and with wage insecurity, and we are increasingly encountering people forced into `self-employment’ by employers who want to swerve their responsibilities.

“At the same time, the wage siege continues. If you strip out bonuses, wage rises are struggling along the bottom at a record low of 0.6 per cent which is hobbling the recovery in the UK economy. If self-employment earnings figures were included it would look even worse as the Resolution Foundation has shown.

“With George Osborne borrowing way beyond what he promised the nation, his mindless austerity policies are costing this nation and its people dear. This is no longer about reducing the deficit; it is about the systematic lowering of the living standards of ordinary people.

“Millions of people feel insecure in their jobs. Hundreds of thousands of our young people are languishing on the dole or press-ganged into workfare.

“Inflation is still running at 1.9 per cent – more than three times the rate of earnings. The case is clear that Britain’s workers need a pay rise – and this can be well-afforded by the companies which are sitting on a cash mountain of reserves.

“This government’s claims of economic competency are laughable. A government serious about job creation would not be borrowing to keep people in benefits, but would be investing to create work and skilled, decent jobs, through a mass house-building programme, rebalancing the economy away from its increasing dependency on the low-wages service sector, and tackling the chronic housing need in this country.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The combination of rising employment and falling pay growth suggests the economy is very good at creating low-paid jobs, but struggling to create the better-paid work we need for a fair and sustainable recovery.

“Self-employment has been responsible for almost half of the rise in employment over the last year. The fact that self-employed workers generally earn less than employees means our pay crisis is even deeper than previously thought, as their pay is not recorded in official figures.

“Falling unemployment is always welcome – particularly for young people who are finally starting to find work – but unless the quality of job creation increases Britain’s living standards crisis will continue and people will be locked out of the benefits of recovery.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Any fall in unemployment is welcome but the rise of the number self-employed is a worrying trend. They are likely to earn less than those in full time jobs as well as being less secure.

“Underemployment is now a bitter reality for millions of struggling families across the UK. And many have no option but to work part-time because they cannot find a full-time job.

“Too many people are stuck in minimum wage jobs, on zero hours contracts and part time work when they are desperate to go full time. Desperate because they need regular, secure employment to feed their families without having to resort to foodbanks, pay their bills without falling into the grip of pay day lenders and decent pay to rebuild consumer confidence and grow the economy.”

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has described today’s unemployment figures as a “double-edged sword”. The charity says that falling unemployment coupled with low wages and an increase in self employment ‘will lead to instability for working households’.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, said:

With employment up but wages down, today’s economic figures are a mixed blessing for working families. The rising number of people in work is extremely welcome, but emerging trends in the economy bring a double-edged sword of more jobs but more instability and lower wages.

“The Government has undoubtedly made good progress on jobs and growth but increased self-employment, flexible-hour jobs and Zero Hour Contracts mean insecurity for many working people. Those people who work for themselves are just as likely to seek debt advice as any other working group. Self-employed people in debt helped by Citizens Advice are more likely to face bankruptcy than people in debt who are employed or out of work.

“On Zero Hour Contracts, we’ve had welcome announcements from the Coalition about banning exclusivity clauses but with this type of job a growing part of our economy, people with such a contract should also be guaranteed basic rights like maternity pay and annual leave.”

The Bank of England has responded to today’s news about poor wage growth by cutting its forecast in half. Bank of England governor Mark Carney said that he now expects salaries to rise by 1.25% this year. The figure represents the slowest pace in wage growth since 2001.

Responding to the announcement from the Bank of England, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

It is hugely concerning to hear that the Bank has cut its forecast for wage growth in half. The economy’s getting bigger but not better with Britain’s pay squeeze now set to continue even longer.

“It’s not just wage stagnation that’s pushing down incomes, living standards are falling because so many of the new jobs being created are low-skilled, don’t have enough hours, or are in low paid self-employment.

“It deeply worrying that the Bank says ‘average household real incomes have yet to stage a meaningful recovery’. If people don’t have money in their pay packets to spend on goods and services it’s hard to see how we can return to sustainable growth. Consumer spending is holding up for now despite people’s real pay falling, but the danger here is people running down savings or increasing their debts.

“That’s why Britain needs a pay rise, because a recovery built on stronger household incomes will be a recovery built to last.”

Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, said: “As the economy continues to grow, ministers must not lose sight of the more than two million people stuck in the shadow of growth, and out of work. The legacy of recession is wages which remain far lower than prices, and with the Bank of England halving its wage growth forecast, many families will find that meeting household bills is even harder.

“Ministers need to make sure good policies, like financial support for childcare, reflect the new realities in the labour market. People taking up the growing number of flexible-hour and low income jobs are likely to struggle to get decent childcare, whilst 41 per cent of Citizens Advice clients say that finding a childminder or babysitter is a barrier to them taking on work.”

Source – Welfare News Service,  13 Aug 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/concerns-grow-poor-wage-growth-self-employment-soars/

Unemployment Still Higher Than Pre-Recession Levels, Warns TUC

Trade Union Congress (TUC) Media Release:

Unemployment rates and levels of joblessness are higher today than before the recession in every region and nation of the UK and across all working age groups – suggesting that the economy is still less healthy than it was before the recession, the TUC warns today (Monday) ahead of the publication of the latest jobs figures later this week.

 The TUC analysis of official figures shows that half a million more people were unemployed in January-March 2014 (the latest available figures), compared to January-March 2008. Yorkshire and Humberside has the biggest jobs gap, with almost 100,000 more unemployed people today than before the recession.

Northern Ireland has the biggest gap between its current and pre-recession unemployment rates. Across Northern Ireland unemployment is currently running at 6.9 per cent, 68 per higher today than six years ago, when it was 4.1 per cent. The unemployment rates in Scotland and Yorkshire and the Humber are 50 per cent higher today than before the recession.

The biggest unemployment gap by age group is among young people, with the number of unemployed 16-24 year olds 167,000 higher than six years ago. In the West Midlands for example, there are currently 20,000 more young people out of work than there were six years ago.

In most parts of the UK the jobs gaps for young people are higher than for any other age group. Unemployment levels are only lower now than six years ago amongst 16-24 year olds in the East Midlands and 35-49 year olds in Wales.

Much of the debate around unemployment has been about the rate falling below seven per cent – the trigger set by the Bank of England for possible interest rate rises. However, with over two million people still out of work – half a million higher than before the recession – and many more under-employed it remains far too early for the Bank of England to be considering an interest rate rise, says the TUC.

The number of unemployed people across the UK is still far in excess of pre-recession levels, in spite of the recent upturn in the jobs market, says the TUC. While the size of the economy is likely to return to pre-recession levels soon, unemployment levels are recovering much more slowly and the analysis shows that more needs to be done to get people back into work.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The recent upturn in the economy has prompted lots of speculation about an increase in interest rates. Those hawks that are keen for interest rates to rise have forgotten that unemployment is still over two million.

“In some parts of the UK, unemployment is 50 per cent higher than it was before the recession. The talk in the City and around Westminster may be about a fast growing economy but the recovery still feels a good way off for millions of people still desperate for work across the rest of the country.

“The government should be doing more to get unemployment down in every part of the UK. High levels of youth joblessness are particularly concerning. The growing talk of an interest rise is a worrying distraction from this far bigger economic and social problem.”

 Source: www.tuc.org.uk

Source – Welfare News Service, 14 July 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/unemployment-still-higher-pre-recession-levels-warns-tuc/

Job Vacancies Approach 800,000 But North-South Divide Remains

The number of advertised job vacancies grew by 3.1% between December 2013 and January 2014, with the total number of available jobs across the UK now at 768,104 and expected to exceed 800,000 by the end of February 2014, according to research by Adzuna.co.uk  seen by the Welfare News Service (WNS).

The headline figure represent a 14% increase on this time 12 months ago and research suggests that the apparent rise in advertised job vacancies is at least partly due to a strengthening manufacturing sector, which now employs around 2.5 million people across the country.

> Although the the apparent rise in advertised job vacancies in my Jobcentre appears to be because there are so many self-employed, commission-based  non-jobs.

In particular, significant growth in the UK’s car industry accounted for 10,012 advertised vacancies in January 2014 – triple the number advertised in January 2013  and experts predict that UK car production will reach record levels by 2017, creating even more jobs. The UK’s largest car manufacturer, Nissan, has started production on a new factory in Sunderland, providing jobs for more than 7,000 people.

> For some people. It’s generally understood locally that you have no chance at all of getting a job at Nissan if you’re aged over 30.

And we’d better hope that Nissan don’t decide they can make more profits elsewhere in the world and up sticks, thereby creating a domino effect amongst their suppliers.

I never feel putting all your eggs in one basket is a good idea, but it keeps happening. A few years ago, call centres were the way ahead for the region – until they decided to relocate overseas.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said:

“Manufacturing will play a key role in the rejuvenation of the British economy. It will help to increase the productivity of the country’s labour force, and help us catch up with our overseas competitors. The Bank of England has cited that greater economic productivity is needed to validate wage expectations, and manufacturing is one of the key vehicles to drive this forward.”

He added: “While the booming car industry is fuelling vacancy growth around the UK, the real future of the UK’s manufacturing industry lies in new technology. Manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing could remove the need for many elements in supply chains, bringing large parts of production back to the UK and increase demand for skilled labour in the industry.”

Despite an increase in the number of available jobs in the UK, the North-South divide remains. Nine of the top ten cities to find a job in January were concentrated in the South, while seven of the worst ten cities to find a job were in the North.

Cambridge is the easiest place to find work, according to Adzuna’s research, where jobs outnumber jobseeker’s four to one. This is in stark comparison to the Wirral where an average 27.28 people are applying for each job vacancy in the city.

Andrew Hunter said:

“It’s vital that government initiatives attempt to bridge the gaping North-South split in the jobs market. Encouraging manufacturing will have a positive effect on the whole economy, but it could further separate North from South. The North is home to British car manufacturing, and a collection of Jaguar Land Rover production plants are based in the Midlands. But our high-tech manufacturing plants are clustered in the South, with Cambridge and Guildford two key epicenters. It is this type of highly skilled manufacturing which we are re-shoring back to Britain. Once again, it will be the South that benefits the most.”

> So, no change there then.

Unemployed people looking for work will welcome news that the jobs market appears to be improving. However, the news for salary levels isn’t as positive.

> More advertised jobs does not necesserily mean more good jobs. It might  – from my personal experience as someone looking for work – just mean more non-jobs, part-time work and zero-hour contracts. Remove all those and what do your figures show then ?

I certainly haven’t noticed many jobs advertised  in the car industry locally

The average advertised salary fell by 1% to a 17-month low in January 2014 and now stands at £32,011 per annum, according to Adzuna.

Figures show that wages have fallen 4.6% since January 2013, which in monetary terms equates to a drop of £2,181 in advertised salaries, Adzuna say.

Click to download the research by Adzuna.

Source – Welfare News Service,  27 Feb 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/job-vacancies-approach-800000-north-south-divide-remains-wages-falling/

Suprise ! North East unemployment rises

The North East has again failed to follow the trend in falling unemployment.

Jobless figures out this morning show the region has the highest unemployment rate in the UK, at 10.3%.

The figure is up slightly from December’s 10.1%, while the rest of the UK saw record drops in unemployment.

Some 134,000 are unemployed in the North East, up around 1,000.

Nationally, unemployment has fallen to 7.1% – within touching distance of the figure which will be used to decide whether interest rates will increase, official data have revealed.

> But I bet we’ll get the increased rates nevertheless…

The number of jobless people plunged by 167,000 in the quarter to November – the second biggest fall on record – to 2.32 million, the lowest for almost five years.

The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee has said it will not lift interest rates above their historically-low level of 0.5% until the unemployment rate drops to 7%.

The quarterly fall of 167,000 is the biggest since the autumn of 1997 and the second largest since records began in 1971.

The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance in December fell by 24,000 to 1.25 million, the lowest figure for almost five years.

The so-called claimant count has now fallen for 14 months in a row.

> All those sanctions…

Meanwhile, the number of people in work has reached a record high of just over 30 million, giving an employment rate of 72.1%, an increase of 0.5% over the quarter to November.

Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “Creating jobs and getting people into employment are central to our economic plan to build a stronger, more competitive economy, so it is very encouraging news that we’ve seen a record-breaking rise in employment over the last three months – the largest ever.

“With the highest quarterly fall in unemployment since 1997, it’s clear that the Government’s long-term economic plan to get people off benefits and into work so they can secure their future is proving successful.”

> Off benefits and into greater poverty would be nearer the mark, I suspect.

Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter: “The biggest quarterly increase in employment on record. More jobs means more security, peace of mind and opportunity for the British people.”

> He might have added:  “Except in the North East and Northern Ireland, but they dont vote Tory anyway, so who cares ?”

If even despite  the record numbers of sanctions and other figures manipulation NE unemployment still rises, then you know you’ve got problems. I can see come April we’ll all be on Workfare… or be forced to move to other areas… 0r just rounded up and shot.

Source – Newcastle Journal, 22 Jan 2014