Controversial zero-hours contracts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to low-paid and insecure jobs, according to a new report published today.
An analysis by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) shows that in addition to the 700,000 people on zero-hours contracts, a further 820,000 workers are underemployed – working between 0 and 19 hours a week.
The TUC says that whilst zero-hours contracts have featured heavily in the news, underemployment is blighting the lives of “hundreds of thousands of workers” struggling to make ends meet.
Workers on ‘short-hours contracts’ are typically paid a much lower hourly wage than other workers, the TUC says. The hourly rate for a short-hours worker is just £8.40, compared to an overall average for all employees of £13.20 an hour.
According to the TUC, short-hours contracts “give too much power to the employer” and allows them to escape having to pay National Insurance for their employees.
Like zero-hours contracts, workers on short-hours contracts can be offered as little as one hour paid work each week and have to compete with colleagues for extra hours.
Workers in the retail sector are the hardest hit by low-paid contracts. Nearly 250,000 people working in shops, supermarkets, warehouses and garages are trapped on short-hours – 29% of all underemployed workers. This compares to 16% in the education sector, 14% in food services and 12% of health and social care workers.
The TUC’s report shows that women account for nearly three-quarters (71.5%) of all workers trapped on short-hours contracts.
Zero-hours and short-hours contracts, along with low-paid and bogus self-employment, have reduced tax revenues and are harming the UK economy, according to the TUC.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Zero-hours contracts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to low-paid, insecure work.
“Hundreds of thousands of other workers find themselves trapped on short-hours contracts that simply do not guarantee enough hours for them to make ends meet.
“Like zero-hours contracts, short-hour contracts give too much power to the employer. Bosses have an incentive to offer low wages and fewer hours to get out of paying national insurance.
“Without more decent jobs, people will continue to have to survive off scraps of work and UK productivity will continue to tank.”
The report also draws attention to a sharp increase in self-employment, which accounts for 31% of the net rise in employment since 2010. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that average earning for self-employed people have fallen dramatically by 22% since 2008/09.
New figures published by Eurostat place the UK at 23rd out of 28 for its record on underemployment.
The figures show that UK underemployment is 31% higher than the EU average, which the TUC says is a sign of the Government’s failure to create high-quality jobs.
Frances O’Grady said:
“These figures show what a bad time British people are having at work compared with their European neighbours.
“We have a fragile recovery built on pumped-up house prices, instead of the strong foundation of good quality jobs with decent hours and wages.
“The current approach just isn’t delivering enough high quality jobs to meet demand and it’s leaving too many families struggling to get by on scraps of work.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 27 Apr 2015
There has been a huge surge in the number of low-income families summoned to court over unpaid council tax, new research shows.
New research published by False Economy shows an increase of more than 500,000 court summons in England, as the poorest households are hit by a £490 million cut in council tax support.
And the problem is set to get even worse, as one in seven local authorities plan further cuts in the support available to families struggling to pay council tax bills.
The TUC believes this will result in the poorest families facing even higher council tax demands and lead to a rise in the number summoned to court.
Figures show that more than 3 million people in England were taken to court by local authorities in 2013/14 over unpaid council tax. This represents a 25% rise on the previous year.
Council Tax Benefit was scrapped by the government and replaced by the Council Tax Support Scheme (CTS) in 2013/14. The change meant that councils in England were allowed to develop their own support schemes, but were also forced to accept a 10% in funding from central government for those schemes.
Only a small number of councils chose to keep full council tax support for low-income families. Vulnerable pensioners were unaffected by the changes and are still entitled to have their council tax bills fully paid.
According to figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), around 2.5 million low-income families were affected by a reduction in council tax support in the first year of the scheme.
Where councils introduced minimum council tax payments for the poorest households, court summons increased by 30%. Only 9% of local authorities continue to offer full council tax relief.
The research by False Economy also found that households who qualified for CTS, and who were subject to minimum council tax payment requirements, accounted for 58% of the rise in court summonses.
According to the research, people who are struggling to pay council tax bills are routinely being affected by deductions in benefits and targeted by bailiffs.
A False Economy spokesperson said:
“Council tax support cuts have caused chaos for families and households, and also for councils.
“They are leaving people out of pocket and in debt, which is also bad for local businesses that depend on them as customers.
“Councils are now pursuing people through the courts for money they do not have. It is a shambles made by a cabinet of millionaires in a government that has been completely out of touch with reality.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Slashing council tax support has been one of the government’s cruellest cuts.
“It was foolish for ministers to think that families who can’t afford to heat their homes can pay new tax bills for hundreds of pounds.
“And it is heartless for them to stand by as the poorest families are hauled through the courts and harassed by bailiffs.
“If anyone is to be hit with higher taxes it should be the fat cats in the boardrooms and those corporations that are dodging paying their fair share, not the poorest working-age households in the UK.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 08 Apr 2015
The cost to job seekers of having their benefit payments stopped has rocketed by 3,000% under the Tory-led coalition Government, new figures show.
Analysis of Government figures by the PCS union reveals that the value of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) payments sanctioned in the year to September 2014 was £355 million, compared to just £11 million in 2009/2010.
PCS says the shocking figure explains why benefit sanctions have been directly linked to a surge in food bank users.
The food bank charity Trussell Trust supported more than 913,000 people with three-days worth of emergency food in 2013/14.
The new research from PCS is published ahead of a Dispatches investigation to be broadcast this evening into the government’s sanctions regime.
The documentary will feature details of a new report from a coalition of major churches, which reveals that nearly 100,000 children were affected by benefit sanctions last year.
Under changes to the sanctions regime, the length of time sanctions can be imposed for has increased, with the minimum set at four weeks, rising to 13 weeks and up to three years.
Opponents of the new system say unemployed people are being unfairly “vilified” and demonised for economic problems not of their making.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:
“This government is imposing much harsher penalties on people who rely on social security at the same time as seeking to blame and vilify them for being out of work.
“Sanctions do nothing to help unemployed people find sustainable jobs. They only poison the relationship between claimants and jobcentre staff, and they should be scrapped immediately.”
> Mr Serwotka doesn’t tell us how many sanctions have been applied by PCS members. Or why his union hasn’t taken action about it.
Commenting on the impact of benefit sanction on Britain’s poorest children, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Something has gone badly wrong when 100,000 children are innocent victims of benefit sanctions.
“Under this government the sanctions system has become a cruel maze in which it is all too easy for claimants to lose cash for minor breaches of rules and random decisions.
“Even those who have contributed for years and are working hard to get a new job can find themselves sanctioned, and driven to food banks.
“There are now huge holes in the welfare safety net that whole families are falling through.
“And Jobcentre staff have been forced to moved away from providing positive help to meeting sanctions targets in a culture that is too often about bullying both frontline staff and claimants.”
> But some Jobcentre staff actually appear to revel in their new powers – many of us will have them in action. I kind of resent the way they’re now trying to reposition themselves as victims.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 03 Mar 2015
Train passengers in the North East expressed their “disappointment and anger” over the reprivatisation of East Coast train services.
The franchise was handed over to Stagecoach and Virgin – an act rail users in Tyne and Wear described as a “fait accompli.”
“Our publicly owned East Coast rail returned money to the taxpayer over the last five years, contributing to £1 billion to the government – far more than when it was run by private companies GNER and National Express,” said Vicki Gilbert, chair of the Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group.
“For rail passengers from the North East and elsewhere, it is likely that there will be new larger fare increases along with cuts in costs, by reducing the staffing on trains and at stations.
“This will mean a poorer service for passengers, while profits go into the pockets of the Stagecoach and Virgin’s companies shareholders.
“This cost cutting is very concerning for everyone but particularly for the disabled and vulnerable, who rely on assistance with wheelchairs and pushchairs.
“This will also affect passengers’ personal security, with figures already showing an increase in violence, drinking, anti-social behaviour and attacks across the entire rail network in England.”
Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn also expressed his opposition to the move, which the government hopes is a case of third time lucky after two previous private franchises running the line collapsed, causing it to be placed into the hands of the state owned Directly Operated Railways in 2009.
“Over the past six years since it was re-nationalised the East Coast mainline has gone from strength to strength and it is a disgrace that the Tories are selling it off before the election,” Mr Hepburn said.
“The Tory-led Government’s plans defy all logic and by taking East Coast out of public ownership all the government is doing is passing the income the line raises into the back pockets of the profiteers.”
Under the new name of Virgin Trains East Coast, the franchise’s first service left Newcastle bound for London at 7.55am on Sunday.
The Department for Transport said it was confident that the new franchise was the best way forward, but trade unions have pointed to the huge sums the publicly owned line has been able to return to the Treasury.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“It is disappointing to see East Coast in private hands after five years of public sector success. The Government’s decision to re-privatise the line is a costly mistake.”
But a Department for Transport spokesman said:
“The skills and experience that the private sector provides drives forward innovation and investment, and has helped to transform our rail network into a real success story.
“We are confident that the new East Coast franchise gives the best deal for passengers. It will provide more seats, more services, new trains and over £140 million of investment along the route. In addition, more than £3 billion will be paid to taxpayers.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 02 Mar 2015
With a general election looming ever larger on the political horizon, the main parties are now unveiling the policies they think will secure them victory.
The economy, immigration and benefits are among the battlegrounds which they will be fighting over in the next four months.
Another is the heavily unionised public sector which has undergone swingeing cuts since the Coalition Government came to office in May 2010 and historically has been the favoured whipping boy of the Tory party.
And so when David Cameron’s party revealed plans to make it harder to call strikes in certain “core” public services if it wins the general election, it came as no surprise.
A policy along those lines, after all, was floated last year by Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster general Francis Maude.
There was also no surprise in its backing by the employers organisations the CBI and the British Chamber of Commerce, or in its universal condemnation by members of the TUC.
Yet, while certain sections of the media need no invitation to attack the public sector, and its day of action last year caused discomfort and annoyance amongst the public – not least the sight of rubbish piling high in places like Newcastle – it is still a risky strategy.
For a start, it opens the Government up to accusations of hypocrisy and double standards.
After all, the present Coalition Government is made up of the Lib Dems and Tories who between them received 38% of the total number of the UK’s eligible voters – 18m out of 45.5m – and below the 40% threshold it wants to demand of the public sector it is targeting. The Tory share of this was 23%.
In her heyday , Margaret Thatcher won around 30% of the total available vote and, during the present parliament, the Tories voted down a Lib Dem motion to introduced an alternative voting scheme which arguably would have made parliament more representative of the people’s views.
Meanwhile, GMB general secretary Paul Kenny also got his calculator out to further hammer home the point. He said:
“Only 16 out of 650 elected Members of Parliament secured the support of 40% of those entitled to vote in their parliamentary constituency area election in 2010.
“Only 15 Tory MPs out of 303 secured that level of support. They had no hesitation in forming a government in 2010 without securing 40% support from the electorate.”
Another point is that, particularly in the North East, the public sector which employs many in the region, is not as hated as the Tories might think. So such a policy strategy could be a vote loser here.
Gill Hale, regional secretary of Unison in the North East, said:
“They are the anti-public sector party – you only have to see what they are doing to the NHS and what they have already done to local government.
“Industrial action is taken as a last resort, and when we’ve had to take it we’ve had very good public support. I don’t think it will be a vote winner.”
Meanwhile comments by Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable, in which he denounced the plans as “brutal” and “ill-conceived”, echo those of Ms Hale.
He said the Conservative proposals were “entirely ideologically-led and a brutal attempt to strangle the basic rights of working people in this country”.
Mr Cable added that a 40% threshold would be “odd”, when MPs do not have to overcome such a high hurdle to be elected.
Under the plans, a strike affecting health, transport, fire services or schools would need the backing of 40% of eligible union members.
Currently, a strike is valid if backed by a simple majority of those balloted.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC says the Conservatives’ proposals would have “profound implications” for civil liberties.
They would also end a ban on using agency staff to cover for striking workers, impose a three-month time limit after a ballot for action to take place and curbs on picketing.
The package of measures will feature in the party’s manifesto for May’s general election.
In explaining the plan, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said a planned London bus strike set to take place on Tuesday had only been voted for by 16% of people entitled to take part in the ballot, and called the walk-out “ridiculous”.
“I think before a strike is allowed to go ahead it must havemuch more support from the union members and cannot be called by politicised union leaders,” he said.
But Ms O’Grady said that participation in strike ballots and other types of vote should be improved by introducing online voting, in “safe and secure balloting”.
At the moment, strikes can only be called based on the results of a postal ballot – which “don’t do the job”, Ms O’Grady added.
She said the government “continues to oppose this proposition”, although Mr McLoughlin replied he would be willing to talk “in more detail” about such proposals.
However, his partner in the Coalition Government, Mr Cable, goes further.
He said: “If there is to be trade union reform, it should be to allow electronic voting in ballots which would improve the turnout and legitimacy of polls.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the Conservative Party’s proposed changes would have a “chilling” effect, and added the way to “resolve disputes was through negotiations – not to intimidate and silence by legislation”.
Ministers have repeatedly clashed with trade unions over pay – with a 1% cap on increases in the public sector – as well as changes to pensions and retirement ages.
It was during the day of action last summer when hundreds of thousands of public sector workers took part in a day of strike action across the UK, that Prime Minister David Cameron said it was “time to legislate”.
But Ms Hale added:
“We already have some of the most draconian laws in Europe regarding industrial action. There are so many obstacles we have to get over.”
However, Mr McLoughlin said:
“It is wrong that politicised union leaders can hold the country to ransom with demands that only a small percentage of their members voted for. That causes misery to millions of people; and it costs our economy too.”
He said the changes, which would be introduced in the first session of a Conservative-led Parliament, would “increase the legitimacy” of strike action held by unions.
“It is only fair that the rights of unions are balanced with the rights of hard-working taxpayers who rely on key public services.”
CBI deputy director general Katja Hall commented:
“Strikes should always be the result of a clear, positive decision by those balloted. The introduction of a threshold is an important – but fair – step to rebalance the interests of employers, employees, the public and the rights of trade unions.”
However, the TUC has previously said imposing a minimum turnout would leave unions with “about as much power as Oliver Twist”.
Labour criticised those plans as “desperate stuff”.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the proposed measures would make it virtually impossible for anyone in the public sector to go on strike and would shift the balance completely in favour of the government and employers, and away from dedicated public servants.
He said: “The UK already has tough laws on strikes – there is no need to make them stricter still.”
But John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “In the eyes of businesses large and small, these proposals have merit, as they would help ensure essential services and the freedom to work in the event of strike action.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 12 Jan 2015
More than 250,000 workers in the UK are being cheated out of the legal national minimum wage by unscrupulous employers, a damning new report reveals.
A new report from the Trade Union Congress (TUC), National Minimum Wage – Keeping up the Pressure, reveals that while the majority of employers are ‘happy’ to pay up, others are finding new ways to escape paying the legal minimum wage.
The findings may prove to be deeply embarrassing for the Tory-led coalition government, who claim to be “making work pay” and on the side of “hardworking people”.
> I doubt they are capable of feeling embarrasment or shame…
The national minimum wage rate is currently set at £6.50 per hour for workers over the age of 21, falling to £5.13 for 18-20 year olds, £3.79 for under 18’s and £2.73 per hour for apprentices.
However, the TUC says a minority of employers are adopting a ‘wide range of scams’ to avoid paying up: including under-recording hours, bogus self-employment, misusing interns and volunteers, charging for uniforms, not paying for travel between work sites during the working day, clocking workers off when there are no customers in the store or cafe, and employers vanishing to avoid minimum wage fines only to reappear under another name.
Apprentices are particularly likely to be underpaid, with figures suggesting as many as 120,000 people on apprenticeships are paid less than the legal requirement.
TUC says enforcement of the national minimum wage needs to ‘continuously improved’ and stronger punishments for employers who flout the law need to introduced, such as increasing the maximum fine from £5,000 to £75,000.
The report also calls for the appointment of 100 more HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) enforcement officers, the naming and shaming of employers who fail to pay at least the national minimum wage and better guidance for businesses.
The TUC has outlined a 10-point programme the next government should adopt to improve minimum wage enforcement:
- Restore the budget for raising awareness about the minimum wage to £1 million.
- Hire 100 more HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) enforcement officers
- Better official guidance on the minimum wage so that employers know their responsibilities.
- Create legal gateways so that HMRC can share information about enforcement with local authorities and the transport regulatory authorities
- Name and shame all non-payers.
- Government to guarantee arrears if employer goes bankrupt or simply vanishes.
- Adopt a prosecution strategy targeted towards the worst offenders and increase maximum fine from £5,000 to £75,000.
- More targeted enforcement for high-risk sectors.
- Make government funding for training apprentices dependent on employers paying the minimum wage, and create a duty for training providers to check that the minimum wage is paid.
- Promote collective bargaining so that trade unions can deal with more minimum wage problems themselves.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Failing to pay the minimum wage is an antisocial act that squeezes those workers who have the least. There should be no hiding place for cheapskate bosses who try to cheat their workers out of the minimum wage.
“We must engage in a constant battle to ensure that every worker gets at least the minimum. It is clear that some employers are actively looking for new ways not to pay even the legal minimum.
“There should be a broad consensus between political parties, good employers and trade unions that the minimum wage must always be enforced effectively.
“We urge everyone to support the TUC’s plan for ensuring continuous improvement to the minimum wage system.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 08 Jan 2015
Passengers using trains in the North East will be hit in the pocket again in 2015 as rail fares rise.
The fares increase comes into effect on Friday and regulated fares – including season tickets – have risen by up to 2.5%,
A season ticket on the Morpeth to Newcastle route was £1,040 but that increases to £1,056 in 2015.
The Campaign for Better Transport’s (CBT) Fair Fares Now say an annual season ticket to travel from Newcastle to York now costs £5,788 for the 79-mile journey – which they say is 30% of the average salary in the North East.
The CBT say the cost of a Newcastle to Middlesbrough season ticket, which is now 2,324, has risen 26.3% since January 2010.
The rail industry has said that this is the lowest annual rise for five years but campaign groups and trade unions have pointed out that the annual rises in fares have far outstripped the rises in wages and that Britons pay some of the highest rail fares in Europe.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“This year’s fare hike will hit passengers particularly hard because wages are rising so slowly.
“Rail fares are now consuming a huge proportion of people’s wages, leaving precious little for other bread and butter expenses. On average passengers are now paying £600 more for a season ticket and yet seeing no change in their pay packets.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“The scandal of Britain’s great rail fares rip off continues with today’s hike far outstripping average pay increases, and it will once again hit those at the sharp end of the austerity clampdown the hardest.”
The government say fares are crucial to funding rail modernisation.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
“We recognise passengers’ concerns about the cost of rail fares. This is why we have frozen them for the second year in a row. We are protecting passengers even further by stopping operating companies from increasing individual fares by up to 2% more.”
Shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher said:
“David Cameron is presiding over a rip-off railway in Britain. He has failed to stand up for working people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and has allowed the train companies to hit passengers with massive fare rises of over 20% since 2010.
“Some season tickets have now risen by over 30% under this Government, forcing people to pay thousands of pounds more to commute to work on increasingly overcrowded trains.”
He went on:
“Out-of-touch ministers talk about ‘fair fares for comfortable commuting’, but this is a world away from the reality for millions of hard-up commuters.
“Labour would deliver a better deal for passengers and taxpayers by reforming the railways, simplifying the ticketing system and enforcing a strict cap on fares on every route.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 02 Jan 2015
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.”
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.”
“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
More than 250,000 desperate job seekers will spend their second successive Christmas on the dole, says the TUC.
The shocking figure flies in the face of government claims that they’re supporting more long-term unemployed people into work.
And the TUC claim the actual number could be as high as 700,000, because it only includes unemployed people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).
Despite a recent fall in long-term unemployment in 2014, there was a rise in young people left stranded on the dole in November 2014.
This points to a falling proportion of long-term unemployed jobseekers receiving the support they need from the benefit system.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“One Christmas out of work is hard enough, but by the second Christmas your savings will all be gone and your confidence has probably taken a significant hit.
“It’s hard to bring some festive cheer to your family in that situation, especially for parents who want to make Christmas special for their children.”
Frances O’Grady blamed Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship back-to-work programme for the plight of hundreds of thousands of young jobseekers.
“If the government’s Work Programme for long-term unemployed people had performed as well as the ministers said it was going to, there would be far fewer people facing a second Christmas on the dole.
“What’s more, there has been a worrying rise in the proportion of long-term unemployed people not receiving any help at all. The government should focus on providing long-term unemployed people with proper support to move back into work rather than blaming them for our unequal jobs recovery.”
London has the highest number of people claiming JSA for longer than 12 months at 36,785, with the West Midlands coming in second at 31,175 and Yorkshire and the Humber in third at 30,105.
Under the ILO definition these figures would be 107,059, 87,828 and 75,094 respectively.
TUC say the overall long-term ILO unemployment count has fallen nearly a third slower than the overall long-term claimant count – a drop of 23.2 per cent compared to 33.7 per cent for the long-term claimant count over the past 12 months.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 22 Dec 2014
A “devastating” number of North East people are struggling to get by on a zero hours contract, a union has warned.
The TUC has published report which estimates there are 52,000 people – enough to fill Newcastle United’s home ground St James’ Park – in the region employed on the controversial contracts, something it says is “deeply damaging for society”.
The study, called The Decent Jobs Deficit, also reveals those on the casual contracts are earning around £300-a-week less than those on a permanent contract.
The report shows average weekly earnings for zero-hours workers are just £188, compared to £479 for permanent workers.
The research also reveals that zero-hours workers are five times more likely not to qualify for sick pay as a result of their lower wages.
The TUC says 39% of zero-hours workers earn less than £111-a-week – the qualifying threshold for statutory sick pay – compared to 8% of permanent employees.
Beth Farhat, Regional Secretary of the Northern TUC, said:
“We estimate over 52,000 North East workers are employed on zero hour contracts which is a devastating number of people experiencing insecurity, and lack of basic workplace rights such as sick pay.
“Research from our region shows that this type of work can be disastrous for family relationships as it increases pressure on people often in quite desperate situations with no alternative.
“Such exploitation by employers is deeply damaging to society and for the economy since insecure work limits access to basic goods and services such as renting a flat.
“The Coalition might claim we’re in recovery but one reason why income tax revenues are down last year is because too many new jobs are low paid, insecure and with insufficient hours. We need a strategy for decent jobs with fair pay and an alternative to exploitative zero hours contracts offering people rights and respect.”
The report comes as the TUC begins a week of campaigning.
A quarter of zero-hours workers work a full-time week and one in four (23%) work over 35 hours a week, compared to two-thirds (60%) of other employees.
One in three report having no regular amount of income and were nearly five times as likely to have differing amounts of weekly pay compared to staff with other kinds of work arrangements.
The report also reveals women on zero-hours contracts don’t make as much as their male counterparts, earning £32-a-week less, on average, than men employed on the same kind of contracts.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“The growth of zero-hours contracts, along with other forms of precarious employment, is one of the main reasons why working people have seen their living standards worsen significantly in recent years.
“It is shocking that so many workers employed on these kind of contracts are on poverty pay and miss out on things that most of us take for granted like sick pay.
“While it is good to see employment is rising, if the UK doesn’t create more well-paid jobs with regular hours we will continue to have a two-tier workforce where many people are stuck in working poverty.
“The increase in casual labour also helps explain why income tax revenues are falling which is not only bad for our public finances but for society too. The lack of regular hours and income makes it difficult for households to pay bills and take on financial commitments such as rents and mortgages.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 15 Dec 2014