Tagged: zero hours

Solution To Zero-Hours Contracts Is To Rebrand Them, Says Iain Duncan Smith

Zero-hours contracts should be rebranded as “flexible-hours contracts”, Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative work and pensions secretary, has said.

Duncan Smith said the zero-hours description was inaccurate and added to “scare stories” spread by Labour and the media.

He defended the contracts – which do not guarantee any hours of work for an employee – after the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, criticised the “epidemic” of zero-hours working arrangements in the UK since the Conservatives came to power.

Miliband has repeatedly said it is not right that employees get a text message late the night before to tell them whether they have any work in the morning.

He has pledged to ban “exploitative” zero-hours contracts and make sure people are given more secure contracts if they are working for an employer for three months.

But speaking on Sky News, Duncan Smith said:

“I think, with respect, the media and others have got this completely wrong, the flexible-hours contracts I’m talking about which are named ‘zero-hours contracts’, they are taken by people who want that flexibility. The reality is what we’ve had from Labour is a series of scare stories about these.”

Speaking later on the BBC’s World at One, he said he was “genuinely furious” with the Labour party for trying to whip up opposition to zero-hours contracts.

He also refused to outline where the axe would fall in £12bn of planned benefit cuts. Asked whether he would want to cut child benefit by rolling it into universal credit, the new single welfare payment, he said:

“That’s not on the books now. Of course, a future government may well want to look at that.”

Responding to the comments on zero-hours contracts, the shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, accused Duncan Smith of “trying to dress up insecurity as flexibility” and suggested he was “living in a parallel universe”.

Labour argues the number of zero-hours contracts has tripled since 2010 but the Office for National Statistics cautions that this may be because of increased awareness about what they are.

In response, the Conservatives claim zero-hours contracts account for just one in 50 jobs and that only 2.3% of workers are on zero-hours contracts.

Duncan Smith and others in the Conservative party, including the prime minister, have argued that many people are happy on zero-hours contracts.

“We know first of all that people who do them are more satisfied with their work-life balance than those who are on fixed-hours contracts, interestingly enough and the average number of hours they work is not, as some people say, tiny numbers, it’s actually 25 hours work a week. So, a tiny proportion of the population is involved in that but overall more people in work, more people have that satisfaction of security, of a good wage packet that brings them and their families hope for the future.”

Esther McVey, the employment minister, has previously tried to rename zero-hours contracts as “enabling-hours contracts”.

Source – The Guardian,  17 Apr 2015

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Why can’t Britain create decent jobs? Meet the women struggling against low pay and zero-hours contracts

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

Reposted from the Guardian

Cecily Blyther
Cecily Blyther, a learning support officer, has been on a zero-hours contract for six years. Photograph: Mark Passmore for the Observer/AP

Sarah, 44, married with a son aged four, has a degree in modern languages, two master’s degrees, a PGCE teaching qualification and a PhD. She has 20 years’ experience in teaching. Each year, for the past four and a half years, her contracts as a lecturer at two universities have been renewed only days before the start of the academic year, meaning she has continual breaks in employment.

She is entitled after four years to request a permanent contract that brings with it improved employment rights, security and a chance to improve her pension. Illegally, her requests have been ignored. Instead Sarah’s wages have stuck at about £23,000, £4,000 below the average UK salary at a time when the cost of living has risen…

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Hartlepool Councillors Call for ban on zero-hours contracts

A group of Hartlepool councillors are calling on the authority to act on zero hours contracts which leave workers open to being exploited.

Hart councillor David Riddle, of the Putting Hartlepool First Party, has submitted a motion to the council for it to lead by example and carry out a review of all staff and contractors who may be employed on the contracts.

Councillor Riddle said:

“The number of people on zero hours contracts has significantly increased in recent years.

“It makes it very difficult for households to plan a budget from month to month or even week to week.

“Families are then faced with impossible choices concerning bills, buying food and just keeping a roof over their heads.”

The union Unite says zero hours contracts are on the rise nationwide having almost doubled in the last five years.

The latest data shows around 1.4 million people are now employed on the contracts, but the union adds the real figure may be up to 2.7 million.

Unite says the contracts mean workers have no guaranteed weekly hours or income, and are only being paid for the hours they do work.

Workers do not get the benefits such as holiday pay, pensions and being free to work for other employers.

Coun Riddle added:

“As a ward councillor, it’s impossible for me to ban zero hour contracts.

“That would be a decision for the Government. However, we in Hartlepool can lead by example and ensure as many people as possible within our town are protected.

“The contracts need to provide more safety and assurance for the employee than is currently the case.”


The motion will be debated by councillors at a Full Council meeting, on Thursday, February 5.

It calls for a review of all Hartlepool council employees, contractors, subcontractors and organisations who have gained council tenders or money who are on zero hours contracts.

The motion also asks the council to implement six key principles within six months.

They include workers not having to be available outside contracted hours, have a right to compensation if shifts are cancelled at short notice and having the right to ask for a minimum amount of work after six months.

Source –  Hartlepool Mail,  30 Jan 2015

Bosses at HMP Northumberland are using zero hours contracts, Parliament hears

A privately-run jail is using the controversial zero hours contracts to plug gaps in its workforce, a debate in the House of Commons has heard.

HMP Northumberland, which has been described by prison officers as “like a tinderbox”, is using the contracts after cuts stripped away its staff from 441 to 270 from 2010 to 2013.

Labour MP for Wansbeck, Ian Lavery described the measure at the Sodexo-run Category C jail as an “outrage” during a debate on a bill aimed at abolishing the contracts.

He said:

“Is my honourable friend aware of the situation at HMP Northumberland, where Sodexo, a French catering company, has privatised the prison and sacked or made redundant more than a third of the work force?

“It does not have enough people to make the prison safe, but it is bringing in people on banked-hours and zero-hours contracts. That is an outrage.”

It comes after a riot at the jail in March and a stash of Class A drugs worth in excess of £100,000 were found last month.

The private members bill, brought by Gateshead MP Ian Mearns, is aimed at abolishing zero hours contracts and the debate will continue next week.

MPs heard use of the contracts is rife in the care and hospitality sectors with the average wage of a zero hours worker is £236, – and that this is a figure £246 less than the average worker.

 

Mr Mearns said:

“Today, I am fighting for the same thing that people of every generation have fought for: the right to decent and secure conditions and terms of employment.

“It is not a great ask. A well-paid and steady job is the bedrock on which people build their lives. It is the starting point for planning for the future, and the platform of stability needed to pay the bills, meet the rent, pay the mortgage and start a family.

“Those are not extravagances, but the minimum that should be available to any person who is prepared to work to pay their way in a wealthy nation such as ours.

“Yet that stability and security is denied to millions of workers in this country. Increasingly, people are finding themselves plagued by job insecurity, not knowing from one day to the next whether they will be working or earning.”

The bill has strong support from North East Labour MPs.

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, said:

A constituent who came to see me highlighted just how little economic sense zero-hours contracts make for the taxpayer as well.

“From one week to the next, he may or may not be able to pay his rent and may need housing benefit support.

“That creates a total mess for the support systems that have to provide support to these people on very insecure work contracts. The cost to the taxpayer of sorting out that mess is adding to the problem. Employers need to step up to the mark.”

Conservatives, however, accused Labour MPs of using zero hours contracts themselves.

Grahame Morris, Labour MP for Easington, denied he was among them, but said Labour-led councils need to do more.

He said:

“I absolutely do not use zero-hours contracts. I think part of the problem is that many local authorities do not have tight enough procedures with subcontractors; I would encourage them so to do.”

Source –  Newcastle Journal,  22 Nov 2014

Gateshead MP proposes bill to end ‘scandalous and unreasonable’ zero hours contracts

A campaign against the controversial zero hours contracts will be taken to Parliament by a North MP.

Ian Mearns, who represents the Gateshead constituency for Labour, is proposing a private members’ bill on Friday in the House of Commons in a bid to end the contracts.

He says that the contracts erode workers’ rights and that businesses need to take more responsibility.

The MP’s bill will require employers to treat zero hours contract workers on the same basis as comparable workers on regular working hours contracts.

It would also allow zero hour contract workers who have been employed for 12 weeks to receive a contract for fixed and regular hours and employers to give reasonable notice.

It would mean that if a shift is cancelled with less than 72 hours’ notice then the employee will be paid in full.

The bill would also see that exclusivity clauses are banned so workers would be free to seek additional employment.

It comes as Labour makes wages and zero hours contracts central to their General Election campaign.

> Only because there’s a general election ? Although its good to see some movement on this, its hardly a new problem. It’d be better if things were done because they’re the right things to do, rather than because there’s an election looming. Still, you have to take what you can get…

It also comes just days after leader Ed Miliband took aim at retailer Sports Direct for their use of what he called the “exploitative contracts”.

Labour claims 17,000 of Sports Direct’s 20,000 UK staff are not guaranteed regular hours.

In response the company has said it was reviewing some of its employment procedures.

Defenders of the contracts say they offer employees flexibility.

Ian Mearns said:

“It is downright scandalous and unreasonable for companies such as Sports Direct to employ regular staff on zero hours contracts.

“Zero hours contracts are supposed to be for short-term or seasonal work, but it is clear that they are being used by unscrupulous employers who seem to think that we still live in Victorian times to dodge their responsibilities towards their staff.

“If the Government is serious about wanting to tackle in-work poverty and job insecurity then they will back my Bill to ban the abuse of zero hours contracts this Friday.”

The bill will be debated by MPs on Friday.

Source –   Newcastle Journal,  18 Nov 2014

How to fix Britain’s broken workplaces

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

Reposted from the New Statesman

It’s time to introduce workplace citizenship to Britain’s employers. Photo: Getty

There’s something seriously wrong with the world of work, and not just in the places you would expect. We know that the UK is near the bottom of the EU low pay league and that those on low pay make up a fifth of the labour force (the same as in 1994, despite the introduction of the minimum wage). And, we know we are world leaders in zero-hours contracting and outsourcing.  But, the problems at work today are no longer confined to precarious employment. As the Smith Institute’s inquiry into Making Work Better shows, the majority of Britain’s workplaces are now broken and under-performing.

The inquiry’s 100-page report by Ed Sweeney, the former chair of Acas, documents a litany of employee concerns: falling real wages, insecurity, mistrust, skills under-utilisation and low levels of engagement…

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More #JSA stories from jobcentres: “It’s impossible. You’re trapped.”

Originally posted on Kate Belgrave

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been attending leafleting sessions outside jobcentres with the Kilburn Unemployed Workers’ Group and talking to people on JSA about their experiences as they sign on. We’ve been talking to people about sanctions, about being spoken down to by staff and having to walk on eggshells or risk being sanctioned, about relying on the jobcentre for JSA payments between short-term, low-paid jobs and about pointless work programme courses. I’ve posted some transcripts from today’s discussions below.

This morning, we were outside the Neasden jobcentre. It was freezing cold and there was a nasty, biting wind and a number of people we spoke to looked cold and shaky because they were not dressed warmly enough for the weather. I know we hear a great deal about life on JSA being a rort and people on benefits enjoying TV and cigarettes and long days lying around in the sun and all the rest of it, but it never looks that great when I see it.

People talk about having to go weeks without money and being forced to grovel and fawn to staff to avoid being sanctioned, and about the terror of putting the card into the cash machine and finding that no money comes out because you’ve been sanctioned after all. And in this rubbish weather, they look cold.

This is the punishment you get these days for the crime of being unemployed and not rich. You are utterly powerless. You’re on the receiving end of everything. You have to put up with everyone’s crap. Of course – things are very different if you’re rich and connected. Life generally is very different if you’re rich and connected. Very different. If you’re Chris Huhne, for example, you get your media-class buddies to give you a column at the Guardian when you leave prison. If you’re Maria Miller, you help yourself to £90k from the taxpayer and claim that little earner was totally above board. If you’re Nadhim Zahawi, you charge the taxpayer to heat your horses’ stables. These people genuinely believe that it’s the rest of us who are out of line. That’s the part that really gets me.

Most of the people we spoke to this morning were forced to collect JSA between low-paid and insecure jobs, or to subsidise low-paid and insecure jobs – something that ought to concern everyone who relies on a wage to pay the bills. One of the women, Noreen, talked about finding work on “lucky days.” She meant that she found work by herself on days when her luck was in and she managed to talk to the right people, not because there was any system in place to help her. Pity she doesn’t have as many lucky days as Chris Huhne.

I’ve been speaking to people for a couple of weeks now and have yet to find anyone who has found work through their jobcentre. Everyone talks about finding work themselves. These jobcentres are an exercise in degradation and futility. People don’t go to their jobcentre because they believe that someone will help them find a job. They go there to present meaningless “evidence” of a fortnight’s jobsearch activity and to sit very still and silently during interviews with jobcentre staff in the hope that they’ll avoid a sanction. “They’re about stressing people out and raising your blood pressure and they are there to give you a heart attack,” Noreen told us this morning. Can’t help thinking that is the point of the exercise as far as Iain Duncan Smith is concerned.

Anyway – here are a couple of people who sign on at Neasden jobcentre. I’m changing the names for these, because I don’t want jobcentres getting fancy ideas about sanctioning people who dare to share their views in public. I won’t respond well if I hear that is happening. People who are on JSA have every right to share their views and I’ll keep posting their views because of that.

Noreen, in her late 40s. Has been out of work for about 18 months, with a spell of short-term work over Christmas.

“I’ve been on the work programme for two weeks – it was writing your CV, learning how to attach your CV to an email. But I can do that. It was to build your confidence. But what I need to do is find a job. I want just a job, any job. Any job that means I don’t have to come here [to the jobcentre].

“I have to come every two weeks to sign on. They are a bit stroppy. You can’t say nothing to them, because if you argue back to them, the security is there and they will sanction you. I’ve seen people there arguing… you have to keep quiet, sometimes you don’t want to keep quiet. The best [thing you can do] is to get a job and then you don’t have to come here, innit. You can get your own money and then you can pay your own bills and you don’t have to come here. You come here like you’re some bloody scrounger. I have been looking for work for 18 months. I used to work at McVitie’s for 22 years – you know, the factory. They gave us redundancy. Since then, I have done carework and I’ve worked in supermarkets. I think I’ll have to go back into carework, but it’s not well paid and you have to walk up and down [all over Neasden] to people’s houses [from one care job to another].

“You don’t get paid for travel [travelling between care work jobs at different houses during the day]. If you drive, you don’t get paid for petrol, so it’s best if you can find something where you can walk it. It’s about £6.20 an hour that you get paid. You can’t pay your bills on that.

“Sometimes,with care work, the hours are zero hours, so you don’t know this week if you would get 16 hours [the number of hours you must work under to claim JSA]. You may get ten or 11 hours and then you have to come here and sign on to make it up to the 16 hours. It’s impossible. You’re trapped and there’s no way out.

“This place [Neasden jobcentre] is harsh. I wish they could close it down. They don’t find you a job in there. There’s the computer in there – you punch something into it and you read it and it says “Here’s this job.” You bring the job information up and you ring the number – but the job is gone. You send your CV, but you never get a reply. You will never find any jobs in there. No.

“It’s just a waste of time. Most of the jobs in there – they don’t bother to check the computer to see if the jobs in there are already filled. Every two weeks I go there, the same old jobs are in there. It’s just rubbish.

“I will find myself a job. Sometimes, [when you take your CV to a major retailer] they say “go online” [to apply] but it can be worth going in, to see if it is your lucky day. You can go into Ikea and they might say “go online” but they might say – “here’s an application form”. If it is your lucky day. That’s how you get a job if it is temporary. That happened to me [with a major retailer] over the Christmas period. [The woman I met at the store], she said “go online” but then she said “since you have come in, you can fill in an application form “and that’s how I got two months’ work over Christmas.”

—–

So. That was Noreen. Like I say – Noreen’s lucky days are a bit different from Chris Huhne’s. Or even Nadhim Zahawi’s horses’.

Next, we spoke to Amy, who is 19 and had just been signed off JSA. She lives in supported accommodation where she shares facilities. She is pregnant. She works part time in a large retail chain. Her wages come in at about £150-£200 a month. Sometimes, she works eight hours a week and sometimes she works overtime. She worked overtime during the Christmas rush. She said she had been claiming about £10 a fortnight in JSA which she spent on food.

She was very confused about the information that she’d been given by the jobcentre and the reasons for her own signing off from JSA, as you’ll see below. People raise this issue a lot when we speak. They sometimes find their entitlements and JSA search requirements difficult to understand when they work and when they work different hours each week. That is often because they’re told very confusing things. I’m posting this discussion as an example. When confronted with this sort of confusing information, people sometimes just find it easier to sign off – and that isn’t fair. Amy left us her contact details, so if anyone can shed any light on the situation outlined below and Amy’s entitlements, please get in contact or leave a comment. We will get back to her.

Amy: They said [at the jobcentre] to do more hours, but my hours vary, because sometimes I do overtime. She [the women at the jobcentre] said to me that I have to do more hours. Then she said to apply for ESA. I’m going to have to call them later on.

“They tell me they are going to pay me £10 a fortnight [in JSA], but I can’t live on £10. I’m working, but all that money goes on my bills. They’re cutting off the tenner now. And now I can’t get that. I’ve signed off. I need that money because it pays for my food.

“I have to give them proof of looking for another job… I didn’t think they were going to hound me [for that ten pounds]. If you’re on JSA, you have to look for work, but I’ve already got work. But it’s not enough hours for tax credits. Then I have to go off on maternity in two months. I get £7.50 an hour [at my job], which is not bad.

“I asked for the hardship fund, but they said I can’t get it… But I have nothing to live off, now so I’m living off him (she points to her friend) until I get paid. They said go off JSA and go onto ESA. I have a GP letter which says I can’t work more hours.

“I’m working eight hours a week and they want me to go up to 16, or to get another job as well. They signed me off, because I couldn’t look for more hours. I was getting £20 a month from them. I’m living in supported accommodation. I pay rent for the house, bills, TV licence. My pay from work goes all to my bills. I get about £150-200 a month. Roughly. They made us work extra hours over Christmas, so I had more then.”

——

So. That was Amy. Wonder if Maria Miller found it that difficult to claim £90k in expenses.

Source – Kate Belgrave,  17 Feb 2014

http://www.katebelgrave.com/

Jobseeker’s Agreement Fun & Games (Part 3)

Ok… round 2. I’ve now discarded the submissive attitude adopted for the initial interview and now its time to enter angry, cynical bastard mode (admittedly this seems to be pretty much my default state nowadays).

The adviser was allowed to play his hand in the first interview, and he proved himself to be one of those who would, if given the opportunity, steamroller the claiment into signing a Jobseeker’s Agreement  (JSAg) designed to set them up for sanctions, presumably with no qualms about the ensuing hardship their actions would cause.

Remember this, and remember it well – it’s YOUR life they will be disrupting, possibly destroying. They will continue on their merry way, drawing their rather good wage and probably basking in the praise they get for hitting their sanction targets at your expense.

So what are YOU going to do about it ? Because its  only YOU who can do anything about it.

Luckily its not so hard as you might think – or might be encouraged to think. Of course it helps if you’re a naturally stroppy person. Actually, I’m not, and once upon a time I’d have probably have allowed them to steamroller me too,  but the passage of the long, hard  years, etc – basically I’ve learnt how to play the part, studied how they play their parts, learnt the facts that they should know but so often seem ignorant of – pretty inexcusable when that knowledge should be central to the proper execution of their jobs, but there you go. It’s something you can use.

Knowledge is power, and can give you a little leverage – it’s up to YOU how you use it to best effect.

Archimedes said “Give me a firm place to stand, and I will move the Earth.”  That’s a little ambitious perhaps –  I’d settle for helping a few more cracks appear in the edifice – it may not be as dramatic as burning down the Jobcentre, but chipping away here and there has its effect.

Not much of one if it’s just me, but what if YOU join in, and YOU and YOU ?  And all the other YOUs who accept having deadly JSAgs foisted on them without argument, then whinge about it afterwards ?

If everyone refused to sign sub-standard JSAgs at the initial appointment and took the adviser to a second session, that would instantly impose extra strain on the system – and probably on the advisers too. More cracks for you to insert your metaphorical crowbar into.

But its down to YOU to act in your own best interests. All I can do is record how I’ve gone about things – hopefully it may inspire YOU and give YOU a few ideas.

Anyhow, enough about YOU,  how was I getting on back at the Jobcentre ?

Mr Submissive safely back in his box, Mr Bastard takes to the stage. As the adviser’s only previous experience of me is as the former, this apparant change of personality may throw him a bit.

Incidentally, I find it useful to take a few props along. Print out anything you think you might be able to quote at them, put them in a file, then add enough extra sheets (blank if you like) to give it a bit of weight so that it gives a satisfying thump when you dump it on their desk. If they query it, say  “Just a few notes…I’ve been looking into the legal implications”  or something on those lines. Leave it  vague – let their imaginations fill in the blanks, however erroneously.

A reporter’s notepad is also useful. Put it on  their desk to make sure they see it, but transfer it to your lap, out of their sight, to make notes. Actually, you dont even have to make notes – just appear to be doing so. doodle, scribble, whatever, it’s the fact that you appear to be making notes that is important. Once again, encourage their imagination to jump to conclusions. Oh, and dont forget a pen – you kind of lose points if you have to ask to borrow one of theirs.

The notepad can also be used to disrupt their flow, should you wish to. Just say “Sorry… could you repeat that ? I ought to make a note of that,”  and then scribble something on your pad for a while.

Mr Bastard also attempts to take control.  Mr Bastard is right in from the word go. He points out that the JSAg is a contract and that under English common law there are certain niceties that must be observed if it is to be  considered valid, does Mr Adviser not agree ? Mr Adviser has obviously never given a moments thought to the subject, is caught on the back foot, and resorts to umming and ahhing.

“Well it is, and it does,” Mr Bastard informs him, and moves on to the next issue.

You might recall from Part 2 that this adviser changed one of my specified employment fields on the JSAg to “assembly”, despite me pointing out that not only did I  have no experience in that field, I wasn’t even clear what “assembly” actually entails.

Mr Bastard  points out again that he knows nothing of this field,  and demands it is changed…but not back to the original job, instead he is willing to allow “Retail” to be inserted instead.

In actual fact, Mr. Bastard’s experience of retail is pretty much limited to working stalls at  markets and festivals – still, that’s 100%  more experience   than he has of  assembly. Mr. Bastard also knows that far too many retail jobs are part-time and zero hours, but he wont have to apply for those, as he specifies needing full-time work.

However, the important thing is that Mr. Bastard  is seen as willing to compromise and allow the Mr. Adviser to change one of his designated jobs (albeit one that he did not himself designate to start with). Mr. Bastard makes sure Mr  Adviser knows that he’s  making compromises, that he’s willing to do business. All bullshit really, but this perceived willingness to negotiate will look good should you need to take your case to independent appeal.

Still pushing the illusion of being Mr Compromise, Mr Bastard also states that he’s going to allow the total of  6 compulsory job applications per week to stand – a 100% increase on the existing JSAg. Mr. Adviser upped it from 3 to 6 at the initial appointment.

Six applications a week may not seem much, but taken in the context of the North East’s job opportunities… some weeks it’ll probably mean applying for 5 jobs I know I’m not going to get. The one bright spot is that email means I dont have to waste money on stamps and stationary anymore.

Mr Adviser did attempt to rally behind his assembly fixation – what the hell is is with him and assembly work ? If its so great, why isn’t he doing it ?  And, being Mr Bastard, I asked him that very question. He didn’t answer, but stated that assembly was where all the work is  locally.

Aha !  said Mr Bastard, who had spent a profitable and instructive 15 minutes prior to the interview printing off jobs from the Jobcentre’s jobpoints.

“Funny you should say that,” says Mr Bastard, “I’ve just been working my way through the top 100 local jobs, and guess how many assembly jobs I  found ?” 

Mr Adviser is not up to guessing games, but Mr Bastard tells him anyway – “Two !”  He dumps the job slips in front of Mr Adviser and goes on to point out that both require previous experience and arcane qualifications, neither of which Mr Bastard – as he has repeatedly pointed out – possesses.

Mr Adviser shrugs. But there’s more – Mr Bastard dips into his other pocket and extracts a far larger wad of job slips.  “By way of comparison, in the top 100 jobs on your job points I found no less than nineteen vacancies for self-employed leaflet distributors.”

And that’s the way of it folks – 2% assembly jobs, 19% leaflet distributors. In fact its probably worse than that – had I counted several other door-to-door, catalogue selling, commision based non-jobs in with the leaflet non-jobs, they’d have accounted for at least 25% of  work available on the Jobcentre’s (and thus the government’s) own job points.

Its the unpalatable fact that they wont acknowledge – last August the Financial Times highlighted a survey of vacancies by  Adzuna.co.uk,  described as   “a search engine that collects every online job vacancy.”

According to this survey, London and the southeast accounted for 46 per cent of UK vacancies… compared with just 3.3 per cent in the North East.

Anyone having to live on benefits in the North East knows this. Anyone looking for full-time work knows it’s even worse than that – once you’ve weeded out the part-time jobs, the zero hour contracts, and the 25% of “self-employed” scam non-jobs – what’s left ?

Very little.

We know it , they must know it too, but refuse to acknowledge it, and insist we continue to chase vacancies in which we have neither the specified experience or qualifications, which we know before we even send the application  that we wont be considered for.

If you wanted to design a system that seems  guaranteed to destroy self-confidence and morale, look no further.

Mr Bastard makes these points, but Mr Adviser is obviously not interested. After all, he has his job, his little bit of power over the plebs, and is fulfilling the the trust invested in him by Iain Duncan Smith admirably.

The session petered out around now, with Mr Adviser saying that he will have to book a double-session for next time, as Mr Bastard has to agree to the revised JSAg or it will be refered to a decision maker.

WE have to mutually agree on a contract, subject to English common law” Mr Bastard reminds him, and exits, feeling he’s  probably come out on top – and still hasn’t signed the JSAg.

To be continued …