> Comedy time at the House of Commons…
North East industry is thriving, a Conservative MP has told the House of Commons.
And the Government has created jobs in the region – while Labour was happy to concentrate prosperity in the south of England, according to the Prime Minister.
But the bold claims from the Tories sparked an immediate backlash from Labour, which claimed the Government had failed to tackle the region’s high level of unemployment.
Guy Opperman, Conservative MP for Hexham, highlighted what he said was the region’s strong economic performance as he questioned David Cameron.
“Is the Prime Minister aware that the region with the most tech start ups outside of London, and the fastest rate of growth in private sector businesses over the last quarter, and the highest rise in the value of exports, is the North East of England?
“And does he agree with me that we should stick to the long term economic plan so that we all have the benefits?”
The Prime Minister told him:
“It is notable that when we look at things like small business creation, exports, investment, the growth is coming from around the country including the North East – and that is a huge contrast.
“Under 13 years of Labour, for every 10 jobs created in the south they only created one in the North. That is the record of the last Labour government.”
“What we need to do is to increase entrepreneurship and start ups in every part of the country . . . there is a new spirit of entrepreneurship in Britain and this government is backing it.”
Mr Opperman was referring to a report by the British Chambers of Commerce which found there were more than 300 high tech and digital businesses in the North East, and that only London has a higher rate of tech start ups in the UK.
He also highlighted the Lloyds Bank Regional Purchasing Managers’ Index, which measures business activity in each region and shows that the North East has the highest rate of growth over three months. The latest index, published on October 13, shows activity in the North East growing in line with the national average, although faster than London.
And in September, official figures showed total value of exports in the North East had risen by 2.32% over a year – the highest figure recorded by any English regions.
Second quarter statistics for 2014 showed £3.102bn worth of goods were sold to foreign markets from the region, up by 9.66% compared to the same period last year.
But Labour pointed out that the North East still had the highest unemployment rate in the country. Most recent figures show unemployment in the region is 9.3%, worse than any other region of England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The overall UK rate is 6%.
Newcastle North MP and Shadow Treasury Minister Catherine McKinnell, questioning Chancellor George Osborne in the Commons, said:
“Whilst he’s been shifting funds from Northern cities to wealthier parts of the country, unemployment in the North East is the highest in the country; wages for working people in the North have fallen by even more than the national average; and, across the North, the number of young people unemployed for over a year is up 62% since the election.
“Why won’t he match Labour’s plan to devolve real power and £30billion of funding, not just to the North but to all city and county regions?”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 06 Nov 2014
Self-employment accounts for 44 per cent of the net rise in employment since mid- 2010, with pensioners, part-time workers and ‘odd-jobbers’ the fastest growing groups of Britain’s new self-employed workforce, the TUC says today, ahead of the latest employment figures published later this week.
The TUC analysis shows that despite self-employment being a relatively small part of the UK jobs market – just one in seven workers are self-employed – it has accounted for 44 per cent of all employment growth since the last election.
Workers aged 50 plus account for half the increase in self-employment, with self-employed workers aged 65 and over the fastest growing group in the labour market (increasing by 29 per cent since the end of 2010).
Over 40 per cent of all the self-employed jobs created since mid-2010 are also part-time. The TUC is concerned that many people are only taking this kind of work because they are unable to find good quality employee jobs which provide the stable employment they really want.
The TUC’s analysis also shows that the number of people starting their own businesses has fallen in recent years, in spite of rising self-employment. The biggest growth areas of self-employment since mid-2010 have been people working for themselves (up 232,000), freelancing (up 69,000) or sub-contracting (up 67,000).
The number of self-employed people who either run a business, or are a partner or sole director in one (positions usually associated with entrepreneurship) has actually fallen by 52,000. These figures show that rising self-employment is part of a wider shift towards insecure employment, rather than as a result of a growing number of people starting up new companies as ministers like to claim, says the TUC.
Self-employment has been going up steadily since early 2008, even when unemployment was rising sharply, and has increased even more in recent years.
The TUC is concerned that the growth of self-employment is at the expense of more secure employee jobs. Many newly self-employed workers do the same work as employees but with less job security, poorer working conditions and often less take-home pay, says the TUC.
Other forms of self-employment – for example selling goods online or registering as self-employed to do the occasional ‘oddjob’ – tend not to pay enough to make a decent living, says the TUC. Recent figures from Citizens Advice suggested that self-employed workers are as likely to have debt problems as unemployed people.
Self-employed workers also have no right to paid sick, holiday, maternity or paternity leave, redundancy pay or protection against unfair dismissal – a particular problem for self-employed workers who are sub-contracted to another employer.
The government is also planning to exempt most self-employed workers from vital health and safety protections in the Deregulation Bill currently making its way through way through Parliament.
Self-employed workers are often poorly paid, says the TUC. Recent Resolution Foundation research found that earnings from self-employment fell by a fifth between 2006 and 2010, while official figures published by Parliament found that the average annual income from self-employment is less than £10,000 for women.
The TUC is concerned that insecure work including self-employment, agency work and zero-hours contracts are becoming a permanent feature of the labour market, even as the economy recovers. The growth of casualised work is likely to continue to hold back wages, and prevent people from having the kind of secure employment they need to pay their bills, save money and plan for the future, warns the TUC.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Self-employment accounts for almost half of all the new jobs created under this government.
“But these newly self-employed workers are not the budding entrepreneurs ministers like to talk about. Only a tiny fraction run their own businesses, while the vast majority work for themselves or another employer – often with fewer rights, less pay and no job security.
“While some choose to be self-employed, many people are forced into it because there is no alternative work. The lack of a stable income and poor job security often associated with self-employment makes it hard for people to pay their bills, arrange childcare, plan holidays or even buy or rent a home.
“The economy is finally back in recovery yet people’s wages are still shrinking and many are unable to find stable employment. Until we see decent pay rises and better job security, working people will continue to feel that the recovery is passing them by.”
Source – TUC, 14 April 2014