Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett has repeated calls for the Living Wage to become mandatory in response to the release of new Living Wage Foundation figures.
The Greens say the minimum wage should be lifted to a minimum of £10 per hour by 2020, £2 more than Labour’s pledge of £8 per hour. Current inadequate wage levels mean too many workers are on ‘grotesquely low wages’.
Natalie Bennett said:
“The latest update from the Living Wage Foundation could not have come at a more significant time. Workers are currently experiencing the most sustained and painful squeeze on their wages since the 1860s. The target set by the Foundation has once again highlighted the growing divide between the wages employees are taking home every month and the amount they need to live, pay the bills and provide for their families.
“That’s why it is so disappointing that the Coalition and Labour opposition have refused to make the commitments necessary to improve worker pay and bring it in line with inflation. Their plans offer nothing except a continuation of our current inadequate wage levels.
“The Green Party would not allow this situation to persist. We are calling for the minimum wage to be made a Living Wage today, and for a target to be set of a £10/hour minimum wage, outside of London, by 2020. We are serious about taking the steps necessary to reduce inequality, tackle low pay, and create an economy that supports everyone.”
Green Party research has revealed how nine in ten big businesses (employing 250+ people) in London are not signed up to the London Living Wage scheme, eight years after the policy was launched.
Baroness Jenny Jones said:
“It’s horrible to think that nine in ten big businesses are holding out and paying poverty wages, while many pay their top executives multi-million pound bonuses. The Living Wage campaigners have been brilliant at getting some employers to voluntarily sign up. But we can’t leave more than half a million Londoners on grotesquely low wages, so we need the London Living wage to become mandatory.”
The new Living Wage rates for 2015 were announced this week. The UK Living Wage Rate is £7.85 and the new London Living Wage rate is £9.15.
Rhys Moore, Director of Living Wage Foundation, said:
“As the recovery continues it’s vital that the proceeds of growth are properly shared. It’s not enough to simply hope for the best. It will take concerted action by employers, government and civil society to raise the wages of the 5 million workers who earn less than the Living Wage.
“The good news is that the number of accredited Living Wage employers has more than doubled this year – over 1,000 employers across the UK have signed up. In the last 12 months the number of Living Wage employers in the FSTE 100 has risen from four to 18 including Canary Wharf Group and Standard Life.
“Those businesses that can should follow the example of as well as hundreds of smaller, independent businesses like CTS Cleaning and Hodgson Sayers Roofing, who pay the Living Wage.
“Low pay costs the taxpayer money – firms that pay the minimum wage are seeing their workers’ pay topped up through the benefits system. So it’s right that we recognise and celebrate those employers who are voluntarily signing up to the higher Living Wage, and saving the taxpayer money in the process.
“The Living Wage is an independent calculation that reflects the real cost of living, rewarding a hard day’s work with a fair day’s pay.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 06 Nov 2014
> What can you do when an employment tribunal finds you were being paid less than the minimum wage and awards you compensation… but the employer doesn’t pay up ? Very little, it seems…
A woman who was awarded thousands of pounds in compensation following a legal battle with town charity has given up ever getting her cash and is set to leave the town.
Lynda Gooding says she has simply “lost the fight” to get her money, and is so fed up with life in Hartlepool that she has put her house on the market.
She was awarded just under £9,000 in April last year after an employment tribunal heard she had worked for Manor Residents’ Association for almost three years on less than minimum wage.
More than 18 months after the ruling was made, mum-of-three Lynda is still to receive a penny from the charity.
“I’ve been waiting 18 months. Well they can keep their dirty money now.
“The house is up for sale, and the sooner I can get out of this town the better as far as I’m concerned. I’d move tomorrow.”
Lynda, who lives in Forfar Road with husband Kenny, a joiner for Housing Hartlepool, has not worked since leaving MRA in 2012.
She added: “Who is going to employ me?
“I’ve found myself at the centre of a row which became political through no fault of my own.
“The court ruled that the trustees owed money, and obviously the mayor was part of that board of trustees so all of a sudden it became a political issue.
“Then there was all the fuss over the charity, which doesn’t exist anymore, and all sorts of rumours were flying about over whether it was coming back under a new name or operating from somewhere else.
“It was just a complete mess, the trustees left one by one and there was nobody left to answer my questions.
“I never asked for that, all I’d done was take my employer to court and I won fair and square.
“It has played on my mind, I’ve been depressed, it’s amazing how much of an effect something like this can have on your sanity.
“But I’ve given up now, my fight is over. They were ordered to pay by a court and they haven’t paid. What else can I do?
“I feel let down, and question whether the tribunal was ever worth going through.
“If I’d known then what I know now, especially after what I witnessed at the council last Monday evening, then I wouldn’t have bothered.”
Lynda’s former colleagues Sharon Henderson, Carl Williams and Sue Harriman also won their own court battles, taking the total payout to more than £20,000.
The Charity Commission, which regulates charities in England and Wales, has since opened an inquiry into Manor Residents’ Association after concerns were raised about the way it was run.
At the time of the scandal the charity was run by Labour councillor Angie Wilcox, but she stood down from her role as a councillor before eventually leaving her role with MRA after being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to steal and false accounting by fraud squad detectives.
She remains on bail while the inquiry continues.
Manor Residents’ Association has since ceased operating, and the organisation which has taken over the charity’s former building – Kilmarnock Road Children and Young People’s Family Resource Centre – has no links with it.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 20 Oct 2014
The councillor at the centre of the row over David Freud’s comments about disabled people and the minimum wage owns a property in Tunbridge Wells, which he rents to people with learning disabilities via a charity. He receives housing benefit payments from the local authority.
At the Conservative party conference, Councillor David Scott told Lord Freud:
“The other area I’m really concerned about is obviously the disabled. I have a number of mentally damaged individuals, who to be quite frank aren’t worth the minimum wage, but want to work. And we have been trying to support them in work, but you can’t find people who are willing to pay the minimum wage.
> You can’t find people who are willing to pay the minimum wage to fully fit workers either – all those employers taking part in Workfare for example – the real something-for-nothing society : cheapskate employers.
“We had a young man who was keen to do gardening; now the only way we managed to get him to work was actually setting up a company for him, because as a director in a company we didn’t have to pay the minimum wage, we could actually give him the earnings from that.”
> In the wake of dubious self-employment schemes, will this be the next scam to reduce the unemployment figures ?
Become the director of your own company ! Earn £2 an hour !
Councillor Scott, along with his partner, is the director of or has an interest in several limited companies. They also own several properties in Tunbridge Wells.
One of these properties is a house in Cadogan Gardens, known as Scott Properties, of which Councillor Scott is both the joint owner and landlord.
According to Zoopla, the average value of a property in Cadogan Gardens is over half a million pounds.
Rooms in the house are ‘Rented to disabled persons directly or through Pepenbury, a registered charity.’
According to their website, Pepenbury:
“. . . provides high quality care and support for adults with a learning disability and complex needs, some of the most vulnerable people in society. We give them choice and control over how they live their lives and believe that every individual has the right to live an independent and rewarding life, whilst feeling safe and supported.”
Councillor Scott told Benefits and Work that the young man he told David Freud about has never lived at Cadogan Gardens, has never worked at any property owned by Councillor Scott and has also not worked at any property connected with Pepenbury.
Councillor Scott has also talked to his local newspaper about the issue, saying:
“If you have got some gardening work to be done you won’t pay someone for four hours when you could pay someone else for half an hour to do it. If you have a lawn in the garden and you employ a person who is doing it with support from somebody else there, you know you can employ them and it could cost you £10 to do it.
“If this person is going to take four hours to do that, would you be willing to pay £40? If you do not give them £40 you are not paying them minimum wage.”
When asked who the ‘we’ referred to in his discussion with Lord Freud was, Councillor Scott told us that it was:
“People working with my daughter when she was alive.”
Benefits and Work also contacted Pepenbury for a statement about whether the young man was one of their service users, but we have not yet received a response.
Source – Benefits & Work, 16 Oct 2014
Business as usual… no real change.
And what, if anything, does Ed have to say about raising benefits in line with inflation ?
Ed Miliband goes into this week’s Labour Party Conference with another ‘big’ announcement. He is pledging to raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour. The minimum wage will be £6.50 an hour from October 1st this year, so on the face of it, that looks like a big rise. However, the £8 figure is what it will be in 2020. Labour want to raise it in stages in consultation with business. £8 an hour would be 23% rise on the current rate, but that doesn’t take inflation into account. To keep the minimum wage fixed in real terms, it must rise by inflation each year. So if Labour were to simply fix the minimum wage in real terms up to 2020, what would it’s value be?
If we assume inflation of 2% a year, by 2020, the minimum wage would be £7.32 an hour. With 3% it would be…
View original post 117 more words
Oone thousand low-paid council workers in South Tyneside are today a step closer to receiving a ‘living wage’.
The move – recommended by an independent commission – leaves South Tyneside Council needing to find £700,000 to cover its wage bill if it presses ahead with the plan next year.
The commission has recommended South Tyneside pays its lowest paid workers a minimum of £7.65 an hour – £1.34 above the national minimum wage of £6.31 an hour.
This would help about 1,000 cleaners, school lunch supervisors and catering assistants in schools, residential homes and leisure facilities – 95 per cent of whom are women.
It would mean those workers, who are paid £6.54 an hour, would see their hourly rate rise by £1.11.
It is highly unlikely any change will come into force before April next year – because the council’s budget for the financial year has already been set.
The decision was labelled “historic” today by Merv Butler, the branch secretary of Unison South Tyneside, which has long campaigned for the introduction of the living wage.
Mr Butler would favour an immediate introduction of the increase but, if that’s not possible, he will be pushing for a “stepped approach” – with phased rises in the rate paid per hour over the next few months.
“This is an historic day for Unison. We have campaigned long and hard for the council to introduce the living wage. The recommendations of the commission bring that a massive step closer.
“Our task now is to get the council to bring in the living wage as soon as possible, and we have a clear plan on how they can do this.
“The report shows that 1,195 job holders are paid below the living wage and nearly 95 per cent of these are women.
“This proposal will make a real difference to our members. It will put money into the local economy as well.”
Coun Ed Malcolm, the council’s lead member for resources and innovation, will now work over the coming months with finance officers to look to identify funding for the change.
“As a council, we are committed to social justice and trying to bring real change to the lives of people in South Tyneside.
“This is why we welcome the commission’s report into the impact of introducing the living wage in the borough.
“There is a compelling case to introduce a living wage because it brings dignity and pays families enough to enjoy a basic but acceptable standard of living. However, it is important that we consider this very carefully in the context of ever decreasing budgets and our commitment to protecting vital services in South Tyneside.”
Coun Joan Atkinson, the council’s lead member for children, young people and families, described the living wage as a “priority” and a chance to take struggling families out of poverty,
“It is going to be hard.We don’t have a hidden pot of money but, through innovative measures savings are being made. This is a priority and we need to find a way of funding it.”
Coun Malcolm added:
“We would like to thank Professor Keith Shaw and his commission members for the wealth of work they have done on this issue.
“They have produced a very comprehensive report exploring what we can do as an employer to lift more people out of low pay and support local families.”
Source – Shields Gazette, 05 Sept 2014
This article was written by Rowena Mason, political correspondent, for The Guardian on Thursday 4th September 2014
The Green Party will on Friday call for the minimum wage to be raised to £10 an hour within the next parliament, in a move that appears to be aimed at stealing support from Labour.
In a new manifesto pledge, she will call for the different levels of minimum wage for young people and adults to be abolished, leading to a £10 minimum wage for all by 2020. The Greens said the rate should then be linked to living costs to ensure that it rises alongside inflation.
Raising the minimum wage to living wage levels would benefit an estimated 5.2 million people – 17% of the working population – and bring in a “fairer society where fewer workers are trapped in poverty pay conditions”, the party said.
Pitching the Greens as the only anti-austerity party, Bennett will say there is very little between the policies of the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats.
Bennett told the Guardian: “We need to offer people hope for the future – a living wage, secure employment and no more zero-hours contracts.”
Like Ukip, Bennett said the Greens were also a party that was “not offering people business as usual”.
“Under our plan no one would be paid less than £10 an hour in 2020,” she said.
“It is a scandal that under the coalition government the number of workers earning less than the living wage has risen by a staggering 50%. It makes a mockery of David Cameron’s 2010 statement that a living wage is ‘an idea whose time has come’.”
“The fact that the Green party are consistently polling at some of our best numbers since 1989 goes to show that our message of the need to reshape our politics and economy to work for the common good is really hitting home.
“It is our policies such as making the minimum wage a living wage, a wealth tax on the top 1%, re-nationalising our railways and having a publicly owned and run NHS that are both encouraging people to join as members and vote Green in growing numbers.”
The Green party has not managed to replicate the surge of Ukip but it came ahead of the Lib Dems in the European elections. The party, which is targeting disillusioned ex-Lib Dems as well as traditional Labour voters, had support of about 6% in a poll of polls last month, while the Lib Dems were on 9%.
Another key focus of the party conference will be on protecting the NHS from privatisation. Bennett argued that the Conservatives and Lib Dems have been responsible for a creeping sell-off of the NHS under the coalition, while Labour started the process under the last government.
Labour has promised a higher minimum wage linked to average earnings but has not put a not figure on how much it should be. Ed Miliband has also promised to tackle abuse of zero-hour contracts by forcing employers to put staff on permanent hours after a certain time but he has not pledged to outlaw them completely.
Labour sources argued a vote for the Greens was a vote for higher taxes, new restrictions on drivers, higher benefits for people who choose not to work and soft laws on drugs.
Source – Welfare News Service, 05 Sept 2014
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.
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
UKIP’s first MEP for the region has talked of his party’s ambition to shatter the dominance of long-standing Labour strongholds.
Former maths teacher Jonathan Arnott, who lives in Guisborough, Teesside, said Ukip is now challenging for power in areas across the North East which have traditionally voted Labour for half a century because Labour had lost touch with the working class.
Jonathan said: “At the recent European elections in Redcar, Ukip secured 11,087 votes, compared to Labour’s 8,548. In Stockton, Ukip got 13,862 votes, with Labour on 12,579. And in Middlesbrough, a long-standing Labour stronghold, UKIP gained 8,695 votes, with Labour on 8,429.
“We’ve got to build on those results so that we’re not just seen for our views on the European Union and immigration. Our no tax on the minimum wage policy is going down well in working class areas.
“At the moment, we’re gaining a lot of support in Blyth, Northumberland. Many of our supporters in these areas say they feel abandoned by Labour.”
During the May European elections Labour topped the North East poll with 221,988 votes and Ukip got 177,660.
The Conservative vote dropped by around 10,000 to 107,733 and under the European voting system the result was enough for Martin Callanan, leader of the Conservatives in Europe and a 15-year veteran on the parliament, to lose his seat.
Labour took two of the North East’s three European parliament seats, with one going to UKIP.
But that gain has not been matched elsewhere in the region, with UKIP not holding a single parliamentary seat and only having a handful of councillors.
> And in Tyne & Wear, lets not forget, they lost 50% of their councillors and now have just one.
It is not widely thought that UKIP will be actively targeting sitting North East MPs as it is more likely to concentrate its efforts on other parts of the country.
Mr Arnott said that Prime Minister David Cameron’s failure to block Jean-Claude Juncker from becoming the next president of the European Commission has left the prime minister “outnumbered, humiliated and utterly isolated.”
He said “The whole process is a sham, in so many ways. Whether you got Schultz or Juncker doesn’t matter anyway, virtually no-one in the UK has heard of either of them.
> But perhaps that’s down to the kind of coverage the EU gets in the British media ?
And Britain is not Europe – just a small part of it. The EU’s not just for our benefit.
“The Prime Minister went to war over the appointment of the next commission president but it was a war that he was clearly going to lose.
“There is an increasingly bad relationship between Britain’s leaders and the leaders of many other European countries.”
> Which UKIP would make even worse…
Source – Newcastle Journal, 07 July 2014
This article was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for The Guardian on Sunday 15th June 2014
The proposal is one of a series from the Institute for Public Policy Research in its Condition of Britain report, to be published on Thursday, including a proposal for a “daddy month” – four weeks’ paternity leave on the minimum wage, a plan that would cost the taxpayer £150m. More than 400,000 working fathers a year would benefit.
The thinktank’s report, the product of two years’ research, is due to be launched by Ed Miliband. It will look at the social and economic problems facing the country and cover areas such as welfare, housing, childcare and improvements to social care, as well as handing more power to local councils.
The current legal entitlement for working fathers is paid at a flat rate of £138.18 a week – equivalent to just £3.45 an hour for a 40-hour working week, little more than half the minimum wage. The IPPR proposes that the statutory paternity leave entitlement should not only be extended but should be paid at least the national minimum wage, with employers also encouraged to bridge the gap between the statutory rate and the father’s actual pay.
Only 55% of fathers take the full two weeks off work when their child is born and a third do not take any of their statutory leave. Most say this is because they cannot afford to.
On the Work Programme, the report concludes that the scheme is especially failing mentally ill people, and the task of helping those on employment support allowance – the main disability benefit – to find work should be devolved to local authorities, with councils recouping some of the possible savings from the Department for Work and Pensions.
However, the report says private contractors should be left to find jobs for the mainstream long-term unemployed using a modified version of the current system of payments by results.
> So… get rid of the Work Programme, and replace it with something like the Work Programme ? And we all know how good private companies are at milking the system despite poor results… which brings us back to the Work Programme !
It says: “The Work Programme, while delivering acceptable results for the mainstream job seekers, is letting down those furthest from the labour market. Whilst one in five mainstream job seekers will find work through the Work Programme as few as one in 20 of those furthest from the labour market will.”
> 20% is delivering acceptable results ?
It also says those in areas of highest unemployment are receiving the least effective help.
It adds the “DWP has carved up the country between providers without any accountability to citizens or regard to local labour market conditions. Therefore for those out of work the system represents a postcode lottery in which success is determined not by individual effort but by geography.”
The report also says the government should offer a guaranteed six month minimum job paid at the minimum wage or above to anyone who has been unemployed and claiming job seekers allowance for more than 12 consecutive months.
> Or another work scheme, in other words. And after 6 months ?
The report will also set out plans to freeze child benefit to help fund a new network of children’s centres and extra free childcare, although it is understood that Miliband will reject this proposal.
Source – Welfare News Service, 15 June 2014
A construction firm has been named and shamed by the Government for not paying its staff the minimum wage.
A2ZEE, based in Cramlington, was exposed in a list of 25 businesses across the country.
It is claimed the firm, which has its base on Dewley Court and specialises in joinery, owes 14 staff £3,375.51.
The TUC has branded the practice “immoral” and has called on Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to be handed more money to catch wage dodgers.
The list is the biggest published by the Government since it announced a crackdown on employers who fail to pay their staff the legal minimum last year.
Between the list of 25, it is said the firms owe employees more than £43,000 in arrears, and face fines of over £21,000.
The minimum wage rate is set at £6.31 an hour though living wage campaigners say it should be £7.65.
Elsewhere Steven Stainton, of Steven Stainton Joinery, in Cumbria’s Cockermouth, neglected to pay £1,415 to a worker.
The largest amount a UK company failed to pay its workers was the £7,310 a North West firm failed to pay three of its workers.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady praised the Government for exposing the firms.
She said: “Under-paying your lowest paid staff is immoral and illegal. Employers caught in the act deserve to be fined and have their reputation ruined.
“This should send a clear message that dodging the minimum wage does not pay. All minimum wage cheats should be named and shamed, and HMRC need greater resources to catch even more crooks.”
The Government also plans to increase fines, so that an employer underpaying 10 workers could face fines of up to £200,000.
Business Minister Jenny Willott encouraged workers to get in touch with officials if they suspected employers were short-changing them.
She said: “Paying less than the minimum wage is not only wrong, it’s illegal. If employers break the law they need to know that they will face tough consequences.
“Any worker who is entitled to the minimum wage should receive it.
“If anyone suspects they are not being paid the wage they are legally entitled to they should call the Pay and Work Rights helpline on 0800 917 2368.”
The Journal was not able to contact anyone at A2ZEE for a comment yesterday.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 09 June 2014