Tagged: self-employed

City Link: ‘Go on Facebook to find work’ Vince Cable tells delivery firm staff

Staff from City Link’s Gateshead and Durham depots have been told to “go on Facebook” to find a new job.

More than 2,350 workers were made redundant. including many of the company’s 101 North East employees, after an 11th hour rescue bid failed.

And now Business Secretary Vince Cable – who unions had criticised for not doing more to stop the company’s collapse – has told warehouse staff and delivery drivers to search social media for work.

The Government has put arrangements in place to help employees who are made redundant and we stand ready to help,” Mr Cable said.

“City Link employees and self-employed drivers who have their contracts terminated as a result of City Link’s administration will be able to access the Government’s rapid response service, which draws together local partners such as Jobcentre Plus and the skills bodies to deliver support for each person affected.

> Watch out for the sanctions, lads. Now you are unemployed you automatically become scum and will be treated accordingly.

“In addition, a Facebook page has been set-up to link-up companies holding suitable vacancies with those who have been made redundant, so if drivers can be redeployed into new jobs in this competitive buoyant market they will be.”

> So get ready to grab another self-employed or otherwise unstable job opportunity with another poorly-managed company.

Reacting to the redundancies, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:

“The City Link Christmas destruction is an act of industrial vandalism that shames our nation while the Government looked on and offered nothing but hollow words.”

Mr Cash had earlier disclosed details of a possible rescue, saying they had been “made aware of what we believe to be a credible bid to take over some or all of the City Link trading operation”.

But the administrators said that the offer they had received “offered no money up front and significantly undervalued the assets to be acquired.”

In total 2,356 City Link redundancies were announced on New Year’s Eve – however there are still 30,000 parcels waiting to be collected from City Link depots, which stopped accepting new items on Christmas Eve, and 371 people have been kept on to deal with remaining parcels and to assist in winding down its operations. It is not yet clear how many of those jobs are in the North East.

Customers who have sent parcels and intended recipients have been advised to collect their items between 8am and 8pm, with depots expected to remain open until “approximately” January 6.

Joint administrator Hunter Kelly said:

“It is with regret that we have to announce substantial redundancies at City Link Limited, which ceased accepting new parcels on December 24 2014.

“The company endured substantial losses, which ultimately became too great for it to continue as a going concern, and City Link Limited entered administration following an unsuccessful sale process.

“At meetings across City Link Limited’s UK sites on Monday and Tuesday, employees were informed that there would be substantial redundancies as no new business was being taken on.”

The administrators said staff affected by redundancy will be offered advice and support in making claims for redundancy and notice pay.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 01 Jan 2015

South Shields MP is fighting for workers paid by ‘umbrella companies’

A North MP will stand up for workers rights over ‘umbrella’ companies that leave them out of pocket.

Construction employees paid by so-called umbrella companies claim they have been told to make up lost wages by claiming expenses, even fraudulently.

It is claimed that companies are getting around new government regulations forbidding them to treat workers as self-employed.

They set up umbrella companies so that the workers are not directly employed by the construction firms.

Unions UNITE and UCATT will join MPs in lobbying at the Houses of Parliament this Wednesday.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, who will speak alongside union heads and other MPs, said:

This is the latest in a long line of scams designed to help employers avoid their obligations to their employees and to taxpayers.

“The umbrella company loophole is costing construction workers in my constituency hundreds of pounds a month.

“These are the people who build our homes, schools and hospitals.

“They deserve better than to be conned out of a fair wage.

“The Government was warned about this problem a while ago, and I and other Labour MPs have been raising it in Parliament for months now, but we have been fobbed off by Ministers who don’t understand the scale of the problem.”

One electrician working at a building site in Northumberland was moved onto an umbrella scheme this year.

The worker said that since the change his wages were, on estimate, £2,500 to £3,500 down in six months.

What they’re saying is that you’ve got to make it up on expenses,” he said.

I talked to someone from the umbrella scheme on the phone to say that I couldn’t claim for driving and he said ‘surely one of your family uses a car. Use those petrol receipts’.

He said wages should not be reliant on expenses to recoup money lost through tax.

“Why should a trained electrician have to put up with a minimum wage?

“It’s been a struggle.”

In a recent report UCATT General Secretary Steve Murphy said:

It was hoped that, as a result of the Government’s actions, construction workers would be paid properly and enjoy basic employment rights.

“The hope was dashed as, in order to get work, workers were forced to sign up to umbrella companies.”

But he said his members saw no increase in their wages.

“In fact they have to pay both employee’s and employer’s NI contributions, as much as a quarter of their eligible earnings,” he said.

Another worker, Andy, was in an umbrella scheme at a Teesside site.

He said he asked how to recover his wage and was told to fraudulently claim.

They told me ‘you can claim six pounds a day for your parking,’ he said.

The only thing was that the car park was private property – it was the site I worked at – and it wouldn’t cost me a penny.”

Umbrella companies act as an employer and accountant to clients, receiving invoices from them, paying the worker’s salary while deducting tax and a fee for their own work.

The method’s use has increased after government legislation was introduced to reduce the number of workers declared as self-employed.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle,  22 Nov 2014

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/

Number of under-employed people in the North East has increased

The number of ‘under-employed’ workers in the North East has increased by 16% since the last election, figures reveal.

The underemployed are people who want to work more hours in their present job, like those in a part-time role who want to go full-time.

Analysis by the TUC from the Labour Force Survey shows that since the May 2010 election, under-employment has also gone up more than 20,000, from 127,578 to 148,368 in this region.

The fastest increase, from 9,000 to 11,500, has been among self-employed people who say they are under-employed – a 127% rise.

The TUC says this shows that despite talk of a recovery, continual real wage falls mean more people than ever are looking for extra hours to make ends meet.

North East TUC regional secretary Beth Farhat said:

“Ministers have made much of the UK’s improving jobs figures as a sign that all is now well with the economy. But here in the North East we have suffered the double whammy of rising joblessness and under-employment.

“There are now over 20,000 more people who would like to be working more hours than they are.

“As the squeeze on pay continues, many people don’t have enough money for everyday essentials, let alone the cash to cover any unexpected emergencies.

“With no let up in their financial woes in sight, people are understandably looking to take on more hours just to keep the wolf from the door.

“Without a decent pay rise and the creation of more permanent, secure jobs, under-employment is unlikely to fall any time soon.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman claimed the TUC’s figures were misleading.

He said:

“Independent statistics show that there are over 100,000 fewer people who say they are under-employed compared to a year ago, and that full-time jobs account for more than three quarters of the rise in employment since 2010.

“The proportion of part-time workers wanting a full-time job has just seen the biggest annual fall in over two decades.

“The overwhelming majority of those working part-time do so because it suits their circumstances, for example students or those with caring or parenting responsibilities. “

However, when contacted further and asked if the DWP disputed the TUC’s North East figures, there was no further reply.

> I bet there wasn’t… guy’s nose had probably grown so long he couldn’t get near the phone.

Source –  Newcastle Journal,  03 Sept 2014

North East Unemployment figure rises by 5,000

Unemployment in the North East has increased by 5,000 in the quarter to May, official figures have revealed.

 According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a total of 129,000 people were unemployed in the region between March and May.

The region’s unemployment rate was 9.6% and saw a rise of 4.0% during the period.

Nationwide, the new Cabinet was given good news with the latest figures showing record employment and another huge fall in the numbers out of work.

> Except in the North East…

More than 30 million people are in work, an increase of almost one million over the past year, the best figures since records began in 1971. Unemployment fell by 121,000 in the quarter to May, to 2.12 million, the lowest since the end of 2009.

> Except in the North East…

The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance fell by 36,300 in June to 1.04 million, the 20th consecutive monthly fall and the lowest total since 2008.

Economic inactivity, covering those looking after a relative, on long-term sick leave, or no longer looking for work, was 67,000 lower at just under 8.8 million, the lowest figure for more than a decade.

Just over 78% of men and 68% of women are in work, giving an employment rate of 73.1%.

Other figures from the ONS showed that more than 4.5 million people were self-employed, the highest since records began in 1992, after an increase of 404,000 over the past year.

Average earnings increased by 0.3% in the year to May, 0.5% down on the previous month, giving average weekly pay of £478. The 0.3% rise was the lowest since 2009, while excluding bonuses, the figure was 0.7%, the lowest since records began in 2001.

Long-term and youth unemployment have both continued to fall. The number of jobless 16-to-24-year-olds fell by 64,000 over the latest quarter to 817,000, including 283,000 full-time students looking for part-time work.

There was also a drop in the number of people in a part-time job wanting full-time work – down by 61,000 to 1.3 million.

Job vacancies were up by 30,000 to 648,000, an increase of more than 100,000 on a year ago, but 48,000 fewer than the pre-recession peak at the start of 2008.

Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “An important milestone has been reached in our country’s recovery. With one of the highest employment rates ever, it’s clear that the Government’s long-term economic plan to help businesses create jobs and get people working again is the right one.

> Except in the North East…

“With an employment rate which has never been higher, record women in work and more young people in jobs, the resilience of the country during the downturn is being rewarded. We know there is more to do, and the best way to do so is to go on delivering a plan that’s creating growth and jobs.”

> Except in the North East…

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Today’s figures show more people have the security of a job than ever before. Full employment is a key aim of our long-term economic plan.”

> Except in the North East…

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “More people up and down the country are finding jobs as we build a stronger, more balanced economy. And today we have the highest employment rate on record, which shows that this Government has created the right conditions for growth.

> Except in the North East…

We have made the tough decisions to reduce our deficit – lifting around three million people out of tax so they keep more of what they earn, healing the scar of the north-south divide through the Regional Growth Fund, and giving young people a helping hand by boosting apprenticeships.”

> Except in the North East…

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: “The fall in unemployment is welcome. However, it is time to drill down into the details of what types of jobs are being created and where.

“This is because large swathes of the country and a great number of workers have seen little or no benefit from this recovery.

“Much of the growth is due to demographic factors, and the increase in population means GDP per head is still well below 2007 levels. This is the root cause of average earnings being down 13.8% in real terms since then.”

Source –  Hartlepool Mail, 16 July 2014

Tax credit debt collection is a double-edged attack on the poor

Vox Political

140126facts

There’s more than a little of the piscine about the fact that our Conservative-led has set debt collection agencies onto poor families who have been overpaid tax credit due to errors made by HM Revenue and Customs.

Firstly, the move undermines the principle behind the tax credit system – that it is there to ensure that poorly-paid families may still enjoy a reasonable living standard. Tax credits are paid on an estimate of a person’s – or family’s – income over a tax year and the last Labour government, knowing that small variances could cause problems for Britain’s poorest, set a wide buffer of £25,000 before households had to pay anything back.

By cutting this buffer back to £5,000, the Conservatives have turned this safety net into a trap. Suddenly the tiniest overpayment can push households into a debt spiral, because their low incomes mean it is impossible to pay…

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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

Inflation drop doesn’t mean wages will rise

Vox Political

'For the privileged few': If you're earning the average wage of £26,500 per year, or less, then nothing George Osborne says will be relevant to you. ‘For the privileged few’: If you’re earning the average wage of £26,500 per year, or less, then nothing George Osborne says will be relevant to you.

Why are the mainstream media so keen to make you think falling inflation means your wages will rise?

There is absolutely no indication that this will happen.

If you are lucky, and the drop in inflation (to 1.7 per cent) affects things that make a difference to the pound in your pocket, like fuel prices, groceries and utility bills, then their prices are now outstripping your ability to pay for them at a slightly slower rate. Big deal.

The reports all say that private sector wages are on the way up – but this includes the salaries of fatcat company bosses along with the lowest-paid office cleaners.

FTSE-100 bosses all received more pay by January 8 than average workers earn in a year. Their…

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More than two in five new jobs created since mid-2010 have been self-employed

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

http://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/economic-analysis/labour-market/labour-market-and-economic-reports/more-two-five-new

Shock Fall In Number Of Employees As Self-Employment Soars

the void

workfare-isnt-working Despite Tory claims that unemployment is falling, the number of employees fell this month by 60,000 people according to the latest Labour Market Statistics.

Overall unemployment has fallen over the most recent period, but this seems largely down to huge leap in the number of people who are self-employed.  A whopping 211,000 more people became self-employed over the last three months – with the total number now hitting 4.46 million.

It is impossible to know whether these newly self-employed people are actually making any money or have simply switched their claim over to Working Tax Credits.  Companies running the Work Programme are known to coerce claimants into self-employment, which not only means they are taken off the unemployment figures but also that those running Government welfare-to-work schemes can claim huge job outcome payments.

If just one in six self-employed people are failing to earn any real income then the true…

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