Tagged: economic recovery

Food Bank Users Could Top Two Million If Tories Win Election

The number of people reliant on food banks to help feed themselves and their families could rocket to more than two million, according to new research.

Research by Dr Rachel Loopstra, from Oxford University, forecasts that Tory plans for a further £12bn in welfare cuts could lead to a doubling in food banks users by 2017.

Trussell Trust, who operates over 440 food banks, gave out 1,084,604 emergency food parcels in 2014/15 – up from 61,468 in 2010/11.

The charity is just one of many food bank providers, charities and churches supporting hungry families across the UK.

Source: Trussell Trust
Source: Trussell Trust

The research also shows that rising food bank use is due to higher demand, rather than greater supply – as claimed by some government ministers.

According to a formula devised by Dr Loopstra, the number of food parcels given out per head of the population rises by 0.16% for every 1% cut in welfare spending.

Dr Loopstra said: “It coincides with spending cuts, welfare reform and record numbers of benefit claimants losing payments due to sanctions.”

Source: Trussell Trust
Source: Trussell Trust

Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves seized on the figures, saying they were further evidence of the hardship and misery caused by Tory welfare policy.

“It would be an absolute disgrace for food bank use to double”, she said.

“The welfare state is there to provide a safety net. It’s not doing what it’s meant to do when people have to rely on charity.”

Reeves said David Cameron’s pledge of more savage cuts to welfare benefits means he has no choice but to cut working-age benefits, because the Tories have ruled out any changes to pensions and pensioner benefits.

“The Tories cannot achieve their £12bn of cuts to social security without doing so and hitting family budgets hard”, she said.

“Child benefit and tax credits are now on the ballot paper next week. Labour will protect them, and families across the country now know the Tories will cut them again.”

Reeves blamed benefit delays, sanctions and the hated bedroom tax for the increased demand on food banks.

She said Labour was the only party committed to reducing the reliance on food banks.

> But hang on… didn’t she say Labour didn’t want to be the party of the unemployed ?  And aren’t Labour promising more Workfare ?

“A Labour government would do this by axing the bedroom tax, getting rid of benefit sanctions targets and introducing protections for people with mental health problems, carers, pregnant women and people at risk of domestic violence.”

She added: “It’s inevitable, if the Tories get back in, that we will see further food bank use.”

Trussell Trust’s Adrian Curtis said: “Despite welcome signs of economic recovery, hunger continues to affect significant numbers in the UK today.”

Source –  Welfare Weekly, 04 May 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/food-bank-users-could-top-two-million-if-tories-win-election/

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Latest foodbank figures top 900,000: life has got worse not better for poorest

  • 913,138 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks in 2013-14 compared to 346,992 in 2012-13
  • Figures are ‘tip of the iceberg’ of UK food poverty says Trussell Trust Chairman
  • 83% of foodbanks report ‘sanctioning’ is causing rising numbers to turn to them
  • Foodbank figures trigger biggest ever faith leader intervention on UK food poverty in modern times.

Over 900,000 adults and children have received three days’ emergency food and support from Trussell Trust foodbanks in the last 12 months, a shocking 163 percent rise on numbers helped in the previous financial year. Despite signs of economic recovery, the poorest have seen incomes squeezed even more than last year reports The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest foodbank network. More people are being referred to Trussell Trust foodbanks than ever before.

That 900,000 people have received three days’ food from a foodbank, close to triple the numbers helped last year, is shocking in 21st century Britain. But perhaps most worrying of all this figure is just the tip of the iceberg of UK food poverty, it doesn’t include those helped by other emergency food providers, those living in towns where there is no foodbank, people who are too ashamed to seek help or the large number of people who are only just coping by eating less and buying cheap food.

“In the last year we’ve seen things get worse, rather than better, for many people on low-incomes. It’s been extremely tough for a lot of people, with parents not eating properly in order to feed their children and more people than ever experiencing seemingly unfair and harsh benefits sanctions.

“Unless there is determined policy action to ensure that the benefits of national economic recovery reach people on low-incomes we won’t see life get better for the poorest anytime soon.”

Read the full story on the Trussell trust website

Source –  Benefits & Work,  03 Nov 2014

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/2926-latest-foodbank-figures-top-900-000-life-has-got-worse-not-better-for-poorest

Treasury Committee Should Investigate ‘Jekyll And Hyde’ UK Jobs Market, Say Unite

The Commons Treasury select committee should investigate who are ‘the winners and losers’ in the jobs market, Unite, the country’s largest union, said in the wake of today’s (Wednesday 17 September) unemployment figures.

Unite said that the rosy picture painted by ministers masked the true nature of unemployment in the UK, such as the growing number of people ‘forced’ into so-called self-employment to get off benefits.

 Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said:
“While the fall of 146,000 in unemployment this month, as you would expect during the summer months, is welcome, it is based on record low pay and rising insecure employment which is blighting economic recovery. Pay is running significantly and stubbornly far behind the rate of inflation.

“We would urge the Treasury select committee to hold hearings to investigate who are the winners and losers in this so-called recovery as it is neither as clear cut, nor as rosy as the government likes to portray.

“There are serious questions to be asked whether we are on the road to recovery, bearing in mind there are 4.5 million self-employed, the widespread and insidious use of zero hours’ contracts, and with hundreds of thousands of young people losing hope of a future with a decent job.

“We should not forget that, in this week alone, nearly 12,000 jobs are under threat at Phones 4U and Birmingham City Council.

“A key area for MPs to investigate should be the long term trends and changes to the UK labour market and who is benefitting or not, and whether these changes are desirable for the future economic health of the nation’s workforce.

“Unite would be willing to give evidence to such an investigation by MPs.

“Unite believes that Britain’s workers need a pay rise to generate economic activity, make workers and their families more secure and to lift thousands out of reliance on benefits.”

Commenting on last month’s employment figures, Unite said that the British economy was in a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ situation.

Source – Welfare News Service, 17 Sept 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/treasury-committee-should-investigate-jekyll-and-hyde-uk-jobs-market/

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

The Tory ideological mission

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

Reblogged from Another Angry Voice

Nobody should be surprised that the Tory party serve the interests of the wealthy minority.

The fact that the Tory led government is packed full of millionaires who buy into the “greed is a virtue” philosophy ofneoliberalism is one strong indicator that the serving of wealthy establishment interests should be expected. Another, even stronger indicator is the fact that the Tory party is funded by a rogues gallery of tax-dodgers, banksters, private health interests and landed gentry.

The Tory party is absolutely crammed with people suffering a smug sense of superiority over the masses. These people believe that they are special and a cut above the rest, because they’re rich, because they’ve been Eton & Oxbridge educated, because they were born into establishment families, or perhaps (like Iain Duncan Smith) because they suffer a misanthropic hatred for most of…

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Suprise ! North East missing out on jobs despite economic recovery

The North East is missing out on jobs despite the economic recovery, union bosses said today.

The Trades Union Congress said the region was one of four where the likelihood of being in work has fallen since 2010 despite the recent upturn in business.

Union officials say jobseekers in the region have not benefited from better trading conditions in other parts of the country.

The other areas affected are the North West, the West Midlands, and the South East while all other regions have shown a better jobs market.

Figures released this morning by the TUC and based on information from the Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey said the North East had an employment rate of 67.3% last year. The figure compares to 67.9% in 2010 – a drop of 0.6%.

The reduction compares to increases in most areas including Yorkshire at 2.4% and London at 1.6%.

Neil Foster, Northern TUC Policy and Campaigns Officer, said the figures showed inconsistency across the regions.

He said: “This study shows that under the previous Labour government the North East was catching up with the rest of the country before the global financial crash hit hard in 2008.

> From personal experience, there’s some truth in that – I got more work between 2000 and 2008 than in all the preceeding decade – all short-term work admittedly (longest 7 months, shortest 3 months) but there was at least an anticipation of things improving. Then it all went pear-shaped again…

“However under the Coalition we have gone into reverse and we’re now seeing the bulk of new jobs created in the south so it’s even harder to find work in the North East.

> As noted in another post recently, a survey of all online jobs reported in Financial Times last Summer showed that London and the South East  accounted for 46 per cent of UK vacancies, compared with just 3.3 per cent in the North East.

Of that 3.3%, many are part-time, temporary, zero-hour contracts or commission-based non-jobs – not much good for us unreasonable people who want, or at least need,  full-time, permanent work

“The Northern TUC warned Coalition ministers in 2010 that this could happen if they dismantled Regional Development Agencies with the significant powers, budget and support they possessed.

“Going forward, we need a devolved industrial strategy that gives our region the tools to build a real recovery that can draw on our significant strengths and benefit people in need of work here.”

TUC General secretary Frances O’Grady said the figures were part of a survey looking at employment in the regions over 20 years.

She said: “Despite the return of growth the chance of having a job has actually fallen in much of England since 2010.

“Whilst it’s great that jobs are created in London and the South East, stronger job creation is needed throughout the country.”

> Government policy :  fund those areas likely to return Tory candidates in the next election. The rest  can rot.

It’s not even a new policy – the Thatcher government actually considered cutting city’s like Liverpool adrift to sink or…well, sink probably.

The figures were released ahead of new jobless statistics this week.

Source – Newcastle Journal, 20 Jan 2014

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday we posted an item of “research” that stated that –

Two thirds of the region’s Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) intend to recruit new staff in 2014, a study shows.

Research by Yorkshire Bank also found North East businesses which plan to create new jobs expect to grow employee numbers by 11%.

It also found that 64% of North East SMEs intend to recruit new employees.

On average, the North East’s 135,000 SMEs expect to recruit more than 7% more staff. If this figure is applied to the North East’s total SME workforce of 429,000, almost 31,000 new jobs could be created.

Alan Young, regional director for Business and Private Banking with Yorkshire Bank in the North East of England, said: “SMEs are crucial to the UK economy and its emerging recovery and we will continue to support them in 2014.”

What a difference a day makes ! We did warn yesterday that this was at best a guess and not a  statement of fact. Today we learn that –

A quarter of small and medium-sized firms are supporting their businesses with personal savings and handouts from family and friends, a report has claimed.

Business funding specialist Bibby Financial Services, which commissioned the research, said the reliance on personal finance prevented firms from being able to take advantage of the first stage of economic recovery.

The survey revealed that almost half of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) used just one source of funding, with 20% of firms saying they relied on a bank overdraft and the same amount again using a bank loan.

Source – Newcastle Journal, 01 Jan 2014

Two days, two different pieces of “research” that appear to contradict each other. Who do you believe ?

Neither, I guess. You can only keep on keeping on as best you can, hope for the best but plan for the worst.

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