Tagged: Iceland

‘All I want for Christmas is a job’ – sandwich board campaigner fails to find work

> Sooner or later people are going to grasp the fact that no matter how you might debase yourself, there is still very little full-time paid work in the North East.

All she wants for Christmas is a job, but a South Tynesider’s campaign to get back to work is still failing to make any headway.

Joanne Rossiter marched along King Street in South Shields last month, wearing a sandwich board bearing the message: “Wanted, full-time job”, in the hope of attracting the attention of prospective employers.

She took affirmative action after applying, without success, for more than 100 jobs in the five months she has been out of work.

The 45-year-old had been taking the sandwich board, as well as copies of her CV, whenever she has been out and about, but she has now packed her placard away, saying she is disheartened by her failure to land a job.

Despite ending her recruitment march, Mrs Rossiter is still desperately seeking employment and is eager for would-be bosses to give her a chance.

She is still scouring the internet for positions and attending regular job interviews.

Mrs Rossiter, of Chichester Road, South Shields, said:

“I am no longer taking the sandwich board with me when I go out. I got a bit disheartened that it didn’t lead to a job.

“It would be great to get a job in time for Christmas, and I am still trying.”

The mother of three says Christmas could be cancelled for her family if she fails to get a foot back on the career ladder.

After being employed for most of the last 20 years, she says she finds being jobless is “soul-destroying and degrading”.

Mrs Rossiter was a shop worker at retail chain Iceland for five years before taking up a new job as a support worker.

She left that role after 12 days because it wasn’t suitable for her, but she has been unable to get back into work since.

Mrs Rossiter, who lives with son Adam, 18, added: “I just want any job with 30 hours. Keeping up with paying the bills is getting tough.”

> Join the club.

Source –  Shields Gazette,  23 Dec 2014

Billingham-based project aiming to feed and clothe homeless over Christmas

Christmas spirit is taking over Teesside this year as groups of volunteers plan to feed and clothe the homeless and others in need over the festive season.

Friends Faye Forbes Spencer and Zoe Lonsdale, both of Billingham, have set up a 12 Days of Christmas project for the Billingham and Stockton areas, and have already had offers of help from dozens of kindhearted people as well as bags full of donated clothes, tinned food and toiletries.

 Faye decided to set up the Billingham-based project after reading a message on Facebook suggesting it.

She said:

“The initial idea was to go out on to the streets with hot food for the homeless, but we realised they can often be hard to find as they tend to hide. We approached some shelters, including Prefer Homes and the Moses Project, so now we’re working with them.

“We’ve asked what they’re in need of for donations, and we’ve got kitchens to cook in over of the 12 nights in the run- up to Christmas, from the 12th to the 24th.

“The shelters are helping to get the word out to homeless people to let them know we’re going to be there, so we’re not sure how many people will turn up.

“We’ll just have to take the first night as it comes and learn from it for the next.

“We’re not just giving out food though; we’re also there to meet people and have a chat with them.

“I didn’t want to be just one of those who drops off donations on the doorstep, it’s also about interaction.”

Faye said she and Zoe have already had to sort out dozens of black bags full of kind donations, and were grateful for every single item.

“I didn’t expect it to get this big. People have been absolutely fantastic. We’ve had plenty of coats, hats, scarves.

“The things we’re lacking in now are shoes and duvets or sleeping bags.

“Loads of people have been brilliant, and I can’t name them all, but one lady used to own a warehouse, and she donated what she had left over, loads of toiletries, which I’ve been able to use to make little washbags we can give away. I’m so grateful to everyone who’s offered help. It’s been hard work sorting it all, and Zoe and I have put as much of our own money into it as we can, but if we can make just one person’s Christmas better, then it’s worth it.”

Faye said the group has also had offers of help from Billingham’s Asda and Iceland.

Anyone wanting to get involved can friend request Faye Forbes Spencer on Facebook and ask to be added to the 12 Days of Christmas group.

A meeting is also being held in The King’s Arms, Billingham, tonight from 7pm, which people can attend for more information.

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 11 Dec 2014

Woman on sandwich board march after receiving 100 job rejections

A South Tyneside jobseeker who has applied for 100 jobs in the last four months has launched her own campaign to find work.

Joanne Rossiter donned a sandwich board bearing the words ‘wanted, full time job’ and marched through King Street, South Shields, on Saturday, in the hope of catching the eye of prospective employers.

She also visited shops on the high street and handed out her CV to offer her services.

Mrs Rossiter then travelled to the Bridges Shopping Centre, Sunderland, later in the afternoon in another effort to put herself in the shop window for work.

She says she will continue to don the sandwich board whenever she is out and about – until she finally secures employment.

The 45-year-old, from Chichester Road, South Shields, has been unemployed for four months, despite scouring the internet for positions and attending regular job centre appointments.

The mum-of-three says Christmas “could be cancelled” if she doesn’t get a job.

After being employed for most of the last 20 years, she says being jobless is ‘soul destroying and degrading’.

She has had just two interviews – with those employers failing to call back to provide vital feedback for why she wasn’t chosen for the role.

Mrs Rossiter was a shop worker at Iceland for five years before taking up a new job as a support worker.

She left that position after 12 days after feeling it wasn’t suitable for her, but has been unable to get a foot back on the career ladder ever since.

She said: “I have been out of work for more than four months now and I’ve applied for about 100 jobs.

“I have been looking and applying for jobs every day but so far I have only had a couple of interviews.

“Being out of work is degrading and soul destroying.

“Doing this is a last resort.

“I just want to show how much I want to work.

“I just want any job with 30 hours.

“Keeping up with paying the bills is getting tough.”

Mrs Rossiter, who lives with son Adam Rossiter, 18, says Christmas could be cancelled if she can’t get back in the workplace.

She added: “Just thinking about it upsets me. I won’t be celebrating Christmas this year, unless I can get a job.”

As well as hoping to attract a new boss, she hopes her employment plea will make interviewers think twice about the impact their decisions make on potential recruits.

> Potential work units – that’s how we’re seen, robots without feelings.

She says she recently attended an interview and has yet to hear back over why she didn’t get the job.

She added: “I hope this will show just how much getting a job means to me.

“Maybe it will make employers think again when they don’t get back to you after an interview.

“You are left waiting by the phone, when their feedback is important to you.”

Mrs Rossiter has been delighted by the support she has received from friends and family for her unique job application.

She added: “I posted on Facebook about what I was going to do and everyone has been very supportive, telling me they hope I find a job.”

Source –  Shields Gazette,  17 Nov 2014

UK jobs figures and why they’re useless…

It is very hard to work out what is going on in the UK labour market because the quality of the statistics is basically junk – garbage in, garbage out describes the lack of quality of the data well. I really am not exaggerating.

Bad Labour Market Data Part 1 is that every other major country, including the euro area as a whole, is able to produce timely estimates, but not the UK.

Currently unemployment rates for February 2014 are available for Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. Data for April 2014 were released by the United States on Friday.

The UK stands out as the only country out of 31 that has no data available for February, March or April 2014.

Pathetic. The national statistic that pretends to be for January is actually an average of December of 2013 and January and February of 2014. The reason for this is simply because the sample sizes are too small to generate accurate monthly estimates.

The Office for National Statistics does in fact publish a single-month estimate of the unemployment rate but that jumps around all over the place.

Let me illustrate the problem. The ONS makes the supporting micro data on individuals available for researchers like me to examine. They take out identifiers so we can’t work out who anyone is. The latest micro data we have is for the three-month period October to December 2013.

In total over these three months 77,657 people between ages 16-98 were interviewed. Of these, 39,761 were employed 6,995 were self-employed and 3,347 were unemployed. The overall unemployment rate, once the data have been weighted and seasonally adjusted is 7.2 per cent, but the relatively small sample size means this estimate is measured with lots of error.

For the technically minded, the 95 per cent confidence interval for the monthly national change is ± 0.3 per cent, which means that any monthly difference smaller than that is not statistically significantly different from zero.

The unemployment rates that were calculated, for example, for East Anglia (5.7 per cent), East Midlands (6.4 per cent), Scotland (7.1 per cent), Wales (7.1 per cent), Northern Ireland (7.4 per cent) as reported by the ONS for October-December were based on ridiculously small samples of 114, 246, 281, 153 and 142 unemployed people respectively. Given the very small sizes the result is that the regional unemployment rates are measured with even more error than the national rate and bounce around like a rubber ball from month to month.

The reason why the ONS struggles to report unemployment rates by month becomes obvious rather quickly.

So the single-month estimate for December of 7.2 per cent that it reports is only based on a sample of 1,198 unemployed people, of whom 632 were male and 452 were under the age of 25.

The number of unemployed people in each of the five regions identified above in December is East Anglia (34), East Midlands (91), Scotland (105), Wales (51), Northern Ireland (55), hence why no single-month disaggregated estimates can be produced.

Bad Labour Market Data Part 2. The government has claimed recently that based on earnings growth of the national statistic called Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) for the whole economy of 1.9 per cent in February 2014 and the fact that the Consumer Price Index has been steadily falling, this means that real wages are set to rise.

If only that was true. But sadly it seems most unlikely given the fact that the Monthly Wages and Salaries Survey (MWSS) on which the estimate is derived has two major sample exclusions whose wages are likely to be growing much more slowly than that, if at all.

First, the ONS has no earnings data, as in none, on the 4.5 million self-employed workers, including large numbers who have set up in business recently. The only earnings data we have available from HMRC are over two years old.

What we do know is that the typical self-employed person earns less than the typical employee and some have zero earnings or even losses; there is every prospect earnings growth of the self-employed will be low.

Second, it also turns out that the MWSS doesn’t sample workers employed in firms with fewer than 20 employees that are the least likely to have strong earnings growth given the difficulty small firms have had in raising capital. The ONS simply makes an adjustment based on the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), which was last available in April 2013 and which itself excludes the lowest earners below the National Insurance threshold.

The ONS computes an average over the previous three years that it imposes on the AWE monthly data. So the ONS just guesses that what happened in the past applies now. But maybe it doesn’t.

The ONS admitted to me that “ideally, we would sample businesses with fewer than 20 employees in the MWSS. However, we do have to pay close attention to minimising the burden on respondents, and we believe that using the adjustment factor from the ASHE strikes an appropriate balance between this and accuracy of the estimates.”

Really? So making it up as you go along is OK? It turns out that this amounts to approximately 20 per cent of all employees, or another 5.2 million workers whose wages we know zippo about.

So the national wage measure excludes 10 million out of the UK’s 30 million workers and my working assumption, for the sake of argument, is that their average pay rise over the past year is zero (it’s a maybe not-so-wild guess that the ONS can’t disprove)!

There is supporting contradictory evidence of strong earnings growth from the latest UK Job Market Report from Adzuna.co.uk, showing that average advertised salaries have slipped £1,800 in the past year down to £31,818 in March 2014, 0.6 per cent lower than in February, and 5.3 per cent lower than in March 2013.

A survey carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses at the end of 2013 reported that “after several years of wage restraint, it is encouraging that the vast majority of small firms are beginning to raise wages again”. They found that 29 per cent of firm owners said that over the next year they would raise wages for all staff, 35 per cent for some staff, 8 per cent for those on the minimum wage. 22 per cent said they would freeze wages, 2 per cent said they would lower them and the rest didn’t answer.

So the AWE is an upward-biased estimate of wage growth. Garbage in, garbage out. The UK’s labour market data are not fit for purpose.

Source – Independent,  08 May 2014

Evictions begin as government starts grabbing your homes

Mike Sivier's blog


It is easy to get caught up in headlines and forget that the Coalition’s benefit reforms mean people you know will lose their homes.


Vox Political was warning the world about this back in 2012 – nearly two years ago – saying the bedroom tax would put people on the streets while homes go empty and warning about the ‘Poll Tax revival plan to take away your home’. It gives me no pleasure at all to report that I was right.

This week I heard about two cases in my Mid Wales town. You may think that isn’t many, but this is a town with a population of less than 5,000 – and I haven’t heard about every case.

The first involves a family that has been living in the same council house for more than 30 years…

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