Tagged: cost of living crisis

More Jobs Than People Looking For Work, Claim Researchers

The number of jobseekers per advertised job vacancy has reached a record post-recession low of 0.89, researchers claim.

According to the latest UK Job Market report from Adzuna – a search engine for job advertisements – the number of advertised job vacancies reached 949,778 in November 2014, the largest number of jobs since the recession and up 23.6% on November 2013.

Adzuna say there has been ten consecutive months in which competition for jobs has fallen and there are now more advertised vacancies than jobseekers.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said:

“The job market has seen significant revival over the past year. The most recent figures provide a solid base for optimism as we head into 2015.”

 “But it’s important not to rest on our laurels. The fact that the number of advertised job vacancies has continued to blossom over and above the number of jobseekers in November is definitely a sign that the labour market has cultivated momentum over the course of 2014″.

However, Mr Hunter urged caution, saying temporary jobs for the Christmas period may be partly responsible for a 1.4% increase in advertised vacancies between October to November 2014:

This peak in advertised vacancies at the close of the year may owe as much to seasonal work as it does to the resurgent core of the jobs market”, he said.

He added: “Some uptick in advertised vacancies during the lead-up to the festive period was expected.”

Mr Hunter said the “cost of living crisis” was starting to ease, “leaving more people with more money in the New Year – injecting a feel-good factor into a traditionally glum time of year.”

This claim will be impossible to accept for the several thousands of jobseekers still struggling to find work and who may have been made redundant during the biggest recession in decades.

And the supposed economic recovery is yet to be felt by families struggling to pay bills, or forced to turn to food banks to feed themselves and their children.

There are also wide variations in the number of available jobs in different towns and cities across the UK. For example, there were 23.54 jobseeker’s for every job vacancy in Salford and 18.54 in the Wirral. This compares to just 0.17 in Cambridge and 0.20 in Guildford.

Research published by the TUC earlier this month (December) reveals that just one in every forty new jobs added to the economy between 2008 and 2014 has been a full-time employee job.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“While more people are in work there are still far too few full-time employee jobs for everyone who wants one.

“It means many working families are on substantially lower incomes as they can only find reduced hours jobs or low-paid self-employment.”

She added:

“The Chancellor has said he wants full employment, but that should mean full-time jobs for everyone who wants them. At the moment the economy is still not creating enough full-time employee jobs to meet demand.”

Analysis also shows a significant rise in the number of people trapped on controversial low-paid and insecure Zero Hours contracts. TUC says most workers on zero-hours contracts earn less than the living wage.

According to Adzuna, average advertised salaries grew to £34,549 in November 2014 – a 5.8% increase compared to £32,651 a year ago.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) – one measure used to calculate the cost of living – grew by just 1% in the year to November 2014. According to the research, this means that average annual salary increases continue to outpace CPI inflation and shows real wage growth.

Consumer service jobs saw the largest annual increase in average advertised salaries of 16.5% over the year to November to reach £21,353, say Adzuna.

Andrew Hunter said:

“The customer services sector has evolved in response to the changing landscape of business engagement.

Adding: “This increase in their average salary reflects companies’ desire to attract the best talent for this crucial sector.”

Average advertised salaries for jobs in Hospitality & Catering took the largest annual plunge to £24,148, which represents a decrease of 2.11% since November last year.

Andrew Hunter said:

“A decrease in average advertised salaries at the close of the year for Hospitality & Catering might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s actually a regular seasonal occurrence.

“Many businesses take on extra seasonal staff for low-wage work in order to cope with the extra footfall during this time of year.”

Manufacturing jobs experienced a yearly salary increase to £30,678 in November, representing a 14.5% yearly increase. This increase was followed closely by a 10.4% annual salary boost in Trade & Construction, with an average advertised salary of £38,704.

Mr Hunter said companies in these sectors “are not simply offering higher salaries because they’re feeling flush with cash”, but because “they’re struggling to attract the talent they need to expand”.

They need to fill the existing skills gap before we can expect other sectors to feel the benefits”, said Mr Hunter.

Scotland is the only region of the UK to experience a year-on-year salary decrease. With average advertised salaries growing by just 0.53% over 2014 it leaves Scotland trailing behind the rest of the UK. According to the research, this was caused by the ‘instability resulting from the referendum’.

At the same time, North East England (11.60%), Yorkshire and The Humber (10.76%) and North West England (8.78%) have jostled Wales (8.44%) out of the pole position it had been enjoying thanks to the Jobs Growth Wales initiative.

Average Northern salaries remain lower than in the South, but at the current rates of change this may not remain the case for long – expect the North to surge forward in 2015, say Adzuna.

Andrew Hunter said:

“A manufacturing boom has buoyed the Northern jobs market this year. The traditional home of manufacturing in the UK is seeing a new demand for highly-skilled labour, which is reflected in healthy annual wage growth.

> Really ? All I see in my local job searches are cleaning jobs at 16 hours/week or less, or zero hours hospitality-type jobs. Jobs at 30+ hours a week seem to be very rare.

“There is a more complicated picture for Scotland, another region where average salaries are tightly tied to a dominant job sector – waning salaries in Energy, Oil and Gas have been compounded across the region by recent political instability.

“However, advertised salaries still managed to grow on average in 2014. The margin of growth was undeniably lower than the increases enjoyed by the rest of the UK.

“Nevertheless, average growth despite the unique setbacks faced by the Scottish jobs market speaks volumes of the market’s resilience – there is every reason to hope Scottish salaries and employment will bounce back into the coming year.”

Source – Welfare Weekly, 31 Dec 2014

http://www.welfareweekly.com/jobs-people-looking-work-claim-researchers/

Council tax could be set to rise in Newcastle after a four year freeze to help pay for £90m worth of cuts

Council tax could rise after a four year freeze for ratepayers as Newcastle City Council announces a further £90m cut to its budget over the next three years.

Leader of the council Nick Forbes said he couldn’t ‘rule out’ an increase as he looks to save £40m from the next financial year alone as less money comes to Newcastle from Central Government.

Councillor Forbes said the financial year 2015 to 2016 would see the authority facing a series of ‘fiscal cliffs’ as the council struggles to maintain anything but basic services.

The end of certain Sure Start child care services will be announced on Thursday, while the public have been told to expect a dirtier city as the council cuts back on street cleaning.

The Labour leader said: “The Government hasn’t as yet made it clear whether there will be an offer about a council tax freeze but given the dire cuts that we are facing and the need to maintain a decent environment means we can’t rule it out.

“We have frozen the tax for the last four years because we wanted to help people with the cost of living crisis.

The council’s latest budget cut announcement will go before Cabinet to be discussed by councillors on October 22. Specific services under threat from being axed will be finalised for formal consultation with the public in December, however £5m is already known to be going from the budget for Sure Start centres.

The £90m cut by 2018 is on top of the £151m that has been cut since 2010 which led to some libraries being transferred into community ownership and the City Pool shut down.

Coun. Forbes, said:

I have warned in the past that government cuts mean that public services in our city are facing a fiscal cliff. Today we are at the very edge of the precipice.

“We have begun a debate with our partners about how we can start to make this happen in many areas – but particularly in health and social care where we need to move resources away from crisis response to those services which help prevent people from coming to harm in the first place.”

He said greater devolution to the North East of England would help combat some of the ‘unpalatable options’ the council is facing, however until that happens there will be cuts to services he knows people cherish.

Further conversations with Sir Len Fenwick, the Chief Executive of Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and other key health agencies will now need to be had as the council aims to devise stronger partnerships on delivering adult social care than ever before.

The Labour representative said: “There’s a willingness from health partners to do things differently.”

The £40m cut in the first year is to cope with the expected expenditure required of the council and a £25m decrease in Central Government’s revenue support grant.

However he said not all councils across the UK have been hit with the same funding reduction and the cut to Newcastle’s budget had been ten times greater than other councils. He said the city being given an ‘unfair’ financial deal is backed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Audit Commission.

Liberal Democrat councillor Anita Lower, leader of the opposition, said:

You can blame Central Government but no one is saying ‘you must not fund Sure Start’. Central Government is saying here is the money, now you decide what to do with it.

“It’s about being creative and being aware of what’s out there and what needs do the public have and doing your best to provide that. We are at the point now where we know what’s coming from Central Government. Yes it’s tough but that’s what being in charge is about but these are Nick Forbes’ decisions.

“In the last two years we should have been talking more with parents, community groups and the private sector. There’s scope to get money from health, and schools could be doing more. Schools could use the Government’s pupil premium money to work with families or put it into Sure Start type services.”

> “It’s about being creative and being aware of what’s out there and what needs do the public have and doing your best to provide that”  = workfare, no doubt.  Why pay when you can conscript someone to do it for nothing.

Residents from across the city are invited to have their say on the council’s preparatory budget planning at www.letstalknewcastle.co.uk

Detailed proposals will be published for formal consultation in December 2014. The council will make final decisions on its budget in March 2015.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 15 Oct 2014

Workers Suffering Severest Pay Squeeze Since Victorian Times, Say TUC

Workers in the UK are experiencing the longest and most severe squeeze in earnings since records began in Victorian times, say the TUC.

New analysis published by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) found that workers have been forced to endure seven consecutive years of falling wages – a historical first.

TUC say that even the pay squeeze during the great depression in the 1920’s was shorter.

Current earnings have declined by over 8% since 2007 and despite the supposed economic upturn workers still face a “financial misery”, with wages lagging well behind prices – creating a cost of living crisis.

TUC compared the situation faced by workers in Britain today with other economic slumps – 1865-67, 1874-78, 1921-23 and 1976-77. During each of these periods wages fell for two years before earnings growth restored, apart from 1874 – 78 when there was four years of falling real earnings.

Seven years after economic slumps in the 1860’s and 1970’s, wages were back above their pre-recession levels. Although earnings went into ‘free-fall’ after the downturns of the 1870’s and 1920’s, the TUC analysis found that today’s squeeze in earnings is ‘twice as deep’ than the worst of the two periods (8% compared to 4% in the 1920s).

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

It’s shocking that even the most infamous periods of pay depression in the last 150 years pale into comparison when looking at the current seven-year collapse in earnings.

“The government says the economy is growing again, but there’s no evidence of any recovery in ordinary workers’ pay packets. Across the country people are struggling to make ends meet, as their pay lags behind prices and there seems to be no end in sight to their financial misery.

“Vast swathes of Britain are long overdue a pay rise. That’s why we expect to see tens of thousands join our march next weekend, calling on politicians and employers to help them share in the recovery and start spending again without fear of falling into debt.”

earnings-comparison-TUC

Source –  Welfare Weekly,  12 Oct 2014

http://www.welfareweekly.com/workers-suffering-severest-pay-squeeze-since-victorian-times-say-tuc/

Number Of Unemployed Women Soars To Record High – And 826,000 Are Trapped On Poverty Wages

The number of women in the UK who don’t have a job has soared to record levels under the Tory-led coalition government, a new report reveals.

According to figures from the Fawcett Society, a leading charity who campaign on advancing equality rights for women, nearly one million (946,000) remain unemployed while others struggle to get by on poverty wages.

826,000 women are trapped in low-paid jobs, the report says, or are forced to accept controversial zero-hours contracts. Almost half of those questioned by the Fawcett Society say austerity and the ‘cost of living crisis’ means they are worse off under the ConDem coalition.

The charity is calling on the government to back its campaign for all workers to be paid the living wage, which currently stands at £8.80 per hour in London and £7.65 per hour across the rest of the UK.

The minimum wage for those aged 21 and over is set to increase by 19p per hour to £6.50 from October 2014. The rate for 18-20 year-olds will increase to £5.13 an hour and £3.79 for 16 and 17 year-olds. Apprentices will get a meagre 5p extra, taking their earnings up to just £2.73 for every hour worked.

The definition of ‘low pay’ (two-thirds of the median full-time average salary) set by the OECD currently stands at anything below £7.71 an hour.

Deputy Director of the Fawcett Society, Dr. Eva Neitzert, said:

From cleaners, dinnerladies and care assistants to supermarket workers and admin assistants, women undertake crucial work that helps to hold the fabric of society together.

“But rather than benefitting from the economic growth we are seeing, the situation for these women is declining. We urgently need to tackle the low wages paid to women by increasing the value of the national minimum wage.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady added:

The alarming shift in the UK’s job market towards low pay and casual contracts is hitting women hardest and risks turning the clock back on decades of progress towards equal pay.

“Unless more is done to tackle poverty wages and job insecurity, women will be excluded from the economic recovery.

Gloria De Piero, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, said:

It’s clear that this isn’t a recovery for working women. Under David Cameron and Nick Clegg, more women are struggling on low pay, in insecure jobs and not getting the hours they and their families need.

“Only a Labour Government is committed to tackling the scandal of low pay by significantly increasing the minimum wage, providing incentives for employers to pay the living wage and delivering on the promise of equal pay for women and their families across the country.”

Women’s Minister Nicky Morgan said the pay gap is too high, but argued: “It is narrowing – and for full-time workers under 40 is almost zero.”

Source –  Welfare News Service,  17 Aug 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/number-unemployed-women-soars-record-high-826000-trapped-poverty-wages/

North-East needs a pay rise, says TUC

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady explains why North-East workers need a pay rise.

Next Tuesday, April 1 will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the minimum wage – a historic milestone in British labour history.

Before its introduction in 1999 some workers were being paid as little as £1 an hour. The minimum wage has helped to end such abuse. It has proved to be a vital safeguard for employees across the North-East.

The Low Pay Commission recommends the level of the minimum wage. Its first ever chair Sir George Bain said last month “with more than one in five workers in Britain suffering from low pay, it’s time to talk about how we strengthen the minimum wage for the years ahead.”

Sir George is right. The minimum wage has undoubtedly lifted many out of extreme low pay, but research shows that many employees start work on the minimum wage and then stay there – failing to lift their pay above the minimum even after years at work.

In the North-East over 75,000 workers are on the minimum wage. Many are likely to stay on this rate for a large part of their working lives.

Lifting the minimum wage above inflation as politicians of all parties now support will help these. But many employers could do more by adopting the higher voluntary minimum standard known as the living wage – set at £7.65 an hour.

But it is not just those on low pay who have been left behind. New TUC research shows that the gap between the top ten per cent of wage earners and average pay in the North-East has grown by 5.3 per cent since 2000.

This should worry everyone. Those with the biggest pay packets may dismiss this as the politics of envy, but income inequality is bad for the whole economy. It helped drive the financial crash as banks lent the savings of the wealthiest to those in the middle who took out credit to keep up their living standards.

 For all the talk of economic recovery workers in the North-East are still seeing their pay fall in real terms and are, on average, £40 a week worse off than they were in 2009.

For some the pay squeeze has been even sharper. To take just one example, academic staff at the universities of Durham, Teesside, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland have seen real-terms pay cuts of 13 per cent over the last five years.  And this is just one instance of jobs that were once secure and decently paid slowly being turned into insecure work that can no longer deliver the living standards once thought fair.

This real wage squeeze is a key aspect of a wider cost of living crisis. Energy bills have risen three times faster than inflation over the last decade, while rail fares rose above inflation yet again this January.
Childcare and housing costs have also grown as a share of average income.

People are now spending over a third of their disposable income on essentials such as food and fuel. People think of the cost of living crisis in terms of prices but the main cause of the problem is that their wages are not going far enough anymore.

So can we do something about it? Or is it just an inevitable fact of life that living standards are in decline and that for the first time in history future generations will have lower living standards than their parents?

Economic growth alone is not the answer. The economy has grown by £60bn in the last four years but real household disposable income has barely increased. Disposable incomes have fallen by nearly £500 per person.

A first step is bolder increases to the minimum wage. Had it kept pace with prices since 2007 full-time minimum wage workers would be nearly £800 a year better off. We need to make up this lost ground but also ensure that companies who illegally pay staff less than the minimum wage face the full force of the law – including being publicly named and shamed.

Secondly, we need an increased commitment to the living wage from employers in the public and private sector so that their own staff, as well as those in their supply chains, can have a decent standard of living.

Employers in many sectors can afford to pay more without job losses. That’s why we need to find new ways for employers and unions to work together to set higher wages, agreed at a sector level by modern wages councils, so that workers and businesses can both get a fair deal.

More collective bargaining can stop employers skimping on pay and get wages rising back in line with prices. Even the International Monetary Fund (hardly known for its radicalism) concedes that the decline of collective bargaining has increased wage inequality and reduced wages for ordinary people.

This month the TUC is organising Fair Pay Fortnight – a series events and street stalls throughout the North-East – to raise awareness about Britain’s cost of living crisis.

We need to put fair pay at the top of the political agenda and ensure that policymakers and employers create more high-quality jobs to boost productivity and raise people’s living standards. People need more money in their pockets if local economies are to thrive.

The North-East needs a pay rise.

Source – Northern Echo, 26 March 2014