Category Archives: Employment

Plaudits for Naga Munchetty after she demolishes Zahawi over help for the self-employed

A few facts about Nadhim Zahawi, the current UK business minister: these are from 2016 so it’s a few years since he voted to cut disability benefits but that cut is still in force. I wonder how warm his stables are today?

Naga Munchetty is carving herself a niche as the hard woman of BBC Breakfast.

This morning she made mincemeat out of Tory business minister and twit Nadhim Zahawi over the government’s lack of interest in supporting people who are self-employed:

The performance raised a huge amount of support for Ms Munchetty on the social media:

At this rate, the Tories won’t be able to use the BBC as a mouthpiece for their daft policies any more. Then where will they go?

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The big Tory ‘Rethink Reskill Reboot’ blunder that has backfired badly

Boris Johnson should have known better but he didn’t. Neither did his Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, who is more directly responsible.

You see, after he announced that he was re-focusing government support to concentrate only on “viable” employment, Sunak had to answer questions about what was to be done with people whose jobs were “unviable”, according to his reckoning.

His answer? “Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.” He wanted people to re-train for different jobs.

No doubt he is now left wondering why people in some employment sectors have taken his words as an attack…

… especially after a government advert that appeared today:

It specifically targets entertainers – “Fatima” is a ballet dancer, and therefore belongs to a highly-exclusive corner of the live entertainment sector.

And it suggests that her time would be better-spent working at a desk, in front of a computer, making money for somebody else. Hence this response:

(Of course the reference is to the fact that the government lost more than 16,000 positive Covid-19 traces because it was recording them on an Excel spreadsheet that ran out of fields.)

Others have responded equally bitingly – and often amusingly. I’ll intersperse what follows with some of these.

But it is important to mention the elephant in this particular room: the fact that entertainment is a multi-billion pound industry that deserves government support that Sunak and Johnson aren’t providing.

The case was made very well by Rou Reynolds. If you’re not familiar with the name, he’s the lead singer of the band Enter Shikari – a personal favourite of This Writer’s stepdaughter, before you all start labouring under illusions that I’m suddenly “with it”.

In an open letter to Sunak, published by that venerable pop periodical Kerrang!, he made the case for entertainers to receive support – and he made it well:

Musicians rely on live performance for their main source of income.

The music industry has been one of the most drastically hit industries throughout the whole [Covid-19] crisis. And as the government furlough scheme ends in a few weeks, your government has decided to give the least amount of support for one of the hardest hit industries.

Like a fish writhing in the dust at the bottom of a drained lake, in losing the option of gigging, those in the music industry have been deprived of their life-source.

And the government is standing on what was once the shoreline, suggesting to the fish that it retrains as an elephant.

Most people in the music industry are now being told they no longer have a “viable job” and must retrain or otherwise adapt. There is to be no financial support for them. This, from the same government that wasted £2 billion on helping businesses that are actually thriving during the pandemic. From the same government that wasted millions painting planes, handing out dodgy coronavirus contracts to its ill-equipped pals and employing inept private companies to do jobs they aren’t trained for.

Lots of people are rightly focusing on the economics, pointing out that the music industry adds £5 billion a year to the UK economy. Live music specifically adds the same amount as the whole of the UK fishing industry.

But I would argue that even more important than the economics, live music creates community, friendships and it brings people together indiscriminately – something that this country desperately needs. It is a reliable tonic for our mental health, both for the performers and the listeners. It heals, it unites, it gives hope, it provides escape, it motivates us and it connects us.

Of course, these things are not measured in our economic statistics. Nor do they seem to be acknowledged at all.

Telling artists to diversify, retrain, or simply get another job is even odd in itself, to be honest. Most artists do have other jobs already. Most artists juggle multiple aspects of their own career already. Many could attempt to get more hours in the jobs they have outside of the music industry and just what…? Leave it to rot? Leave it in the safe hands of the well-funded, “establishment-approved” mainstream, and lose all the beautiful diversity and nuance of the underground, the alternative and the more esoteric scenes? The very scenes that have made UK music the world’s most inventive and leading cultural force for decades.

And it’s not just artists that are going to struggle either without support, is it? It’s not just whinging, complaining singers like me!

You remember those iceberg diagrams? The musicians are the little bit of the iceberg we see above the water. Look below the surface and you witness the true extent of the colossal size of the industry: it’s huge.

It’s the stage technicians, lighting designers, engineers, management and production teams, agents, press teams, media, photographers, videographers, promoters, venue staff, security, bus and truck drivers, caterers, even the kebab shop near the venue that relies on the gig-goer’s custom to keep its doors open. What happens to them?

And if you remove an artist’s main source of income, how are they then supposed to afford to record new music? You’re then impacting the record producers, the studio engineers, the mixing and mastering engineers, the session musicians, the video directors and music video production teams, the labels and the publishers.

You and your government must reconsider.

Yours,
Rou Reynolds (unviable content creator, awaiting retraining)

Source: An Open Letter To Rishi Sunak, By Rou Reynolds — Kerrang!

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Sunak announces furlough scheme replacement. Is it any good?

After he served up this little howler – and pushed up Covid-19 infections massively, Rishi Sunak needs to make a good impression with his plan to replace the furlough scheme for jobs affected by Covid-19. Has he managed it?

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new “job support scheme” to replace the “furlough” programme he has been running since lockdown began in March.

This new scheme will run for another six months until the end of April 2021.

What is it?

A six-month scheme starting on November 1.

To be eligible, employees must work a minimum of 33 per cent of their normal hours.

For the remaining hours not worked, the government and employer pay one-third of the wages each.

So employees working 33 per cent of their hours will receive at least 77 per cent of their pay.

Where will employers get the extra money?

According to BBC News:

Sunak announced a “pay as you grow” scheme for businesses which took government guaranteed loans during the crisis.

“Loans can now be extended from six to ten years nearly halving the average monthly repayment,” he said.

They can also move to interest only payments or suspend payments if they are “in real trouble” for up to six months.

He said no credit rating will be affected.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will also be extended for up to 10 years.

There will also be a new loan scheme in January, the chancellor says.

He is also extending the scheme for self-employment on “similar terms” to the existing job support scheme.

The scheme is mainly for small and medium-sized firms. Only large firms that can prove they have been harmed by Covid will be eligible for the Job Support Scheme.

What about VAT?

Sunak is also cancelling the planned increase of VAT from five per cent to 20 per cent, which was due to come into effect in January.

Instead, the lower rate of five per cent will remain until 31 March next year.

Viable jobs?

Sunak said the new scheme is intended to support “viable” jobs only – and that should ring alarm bells:

Of course – Tories being Tories – certain extremely rich people are enjoying the continuation of their own subsidies at the same level:

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#CorridorsOfPowder – hypocritical Tories will force big employers to do random drug tests. What about Westminster?

Shaun Bailey: he has already been branded as the Conservative candidate for Islamophobia, sexism and misogyny. Now he’s adding hypocrisy to the list with a plan for drug testing in major firms, but not in Parliament – which is known to have a serious cocaine problem.

It seems Priti Patel has picked up on Tory London Mayor candidate Shaun Bailey’s plan to force firms that employ more than 250 people to subject the workforce to random drug tests.

Her endorsement follows one by Iain Duncan Smith last month.

But how strange that the UK Parliament, where the House of Commons alone employes around 2,040 people – not counting MPs, is to be exempt from any such legislation!

The Conservative government are planning to introduce legislation which would force big employers to carry out random drug tests on their employees – but MPs look set to be exempt from the policy.

Yesterday, the Home Secretary Priti Patel endorsed controversial plans drawn up by the Tory candidate for Mayor of London, Shaun Bailey.

The Tory Mayoral candidate says the policy is designed to reduce ‘middle-class cocaine usage‘ in the capital. However, MPs – who are notorious users of the drug – will be exempt.

Yes indeed. Back in August, This Site pointed out that cocaine use in the House of Commons has become so bad that at one point even the arch-Tory Daily Mail published an article dubbing the Palace of Westminster “corridors of powder”.

Apparently the washrooms of Parliament are… awash with the stuff.

I wonder if this is not a subtle (especially for the Tories) bid to sabotage Bailey’s bid to be Mayor of London.

He has already blotted his copy book in the past and it seems hard to believe this plan will be a vote-winner. People who take the drug won’t support a man who has inflicted random testing on them and those who don’t will hate the fact that the Tories are imposing tests on others but not submitting to the same tests themselves, even though it is well-established that Westminster has a serious nose candy problem.

Perhaps someone thinks it is a way to get rid of him, while still imposing a little extra unnecessary unpleasantness into the lives of ordinary people (most of whom won’t have been anywhere near cocaine).

Source: The Tories are planning to force workers to undergo random drug tests – but MPs will be exempt | Evolve Politics

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Why does Sunak have billions for dormant companies, but not a penny to safeguard our jobs?

Rishi Sunak: he doesn’t want to save UK jobs. Meanwhile his government is funnelling billions into companies run by friends of the Tories – who can’t deliver what they promise.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak has again been urged to extend the furlough scheme that safeguards huge numbers of UK jobs during the Covid crisis – a scheme he is adamant will end on October 31.

The Commons Treasury select committee has urged him to renew support for sectors of the economy that are still suffering because of the pandemic, saying the alternative is mass unemployment and an end to viable firms.

But you can probably see the problem Sunak has in the committee’s own words:

“Effectively targeted assistance to those who need it is important,” the committee says in an 84-page report, ‘Economic impact of coronavirus : the challenges of recovery’.

“The Chancellor should carefully consider whether a targeted extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and/or other targeted support measures might be required and explain his conclusions.”

The problem is that the UK’s current Tory government hasn’t yet had a target that it could hit.

Meanwhile…

Yes, we deserve far better. But we’re not going to get it.

Source: Coronavirus furlough ‘must be extended’ to avoid mass unemployment from October 31 – Mirror Online

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Do you believe this ‘four-day working week to create half a million jobs’ bunkum?

Commuters: to many of them, the idea of a four-day working week may seem highly attractive – but not on these ‘castle in the air’ terms.

Someone’s trying to lead us up the garden path:

The public sector should switch to a four-day week to create 500,000 jobs and help ease a predicted spike in unemployment following the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report.

The Autonomy think tank said “the time has come” for a shorter working week as the end of the government’s furlough scheme in October is expected to cause an unemployment crisis.

Research by the thinktank suggests public sector workers could move to a 32-hour week without any loss in wages at a cost of up to £9bn a year.

This figure, according to Autonomy, represents 6 per cent of the public sector salary bill and costs the same amount as the furlough employment scheme brought in to save jobs during the peak of the pandemic.

Who says any government is going to give public sector workers a cut in their working hours while keeping their wages the same (that’s a massive real-terms raise) – especially a Tory government? They imposed a public sector pay freeze for years!

And the claim that it would cost up to £9 billion a year – the same as Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme – is just more evidence that it wouldn’t work. Sunak is scrapping the furlough scheme on grounds that it is too expensive to continue indefinitely.

Not realistic.

Source: Four-day working week in public sector could create 500,000 jobs, says thinktank report | The Independent | Independent

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Distraction tactics: why pay attention to all this right-wing fiddling while your country burns?

Jeremy Corbyn: it’s nice that a Twitter poll has rated him the best prime minister the UK never had, but the PM that we’ve got is turning the UK into a major disaster and this stuff is nothing more than an attempt to distract you. Did it work?

We all know bank holiday Mondays are where the news goes to die but August 2020 was particularly bad.

Judging by Twitter, the event that caught everybody’s imagination was a poll by right-wing Times Radio that resulted in a nobody presenter – This Writer has never heard of him – having to declare that Jeremy Corbyn is the best prime minister the UK never had.

(It means he would have been a better choice, not only than Boris Johnson or Theresa May, but better than many others as well – according to those who took part in the poll.)

Certain right-whingers immediately took it upon themselves to alleged – without any factual basis – that Corbynista Twitter users had ganged up to rig the poll.

Who cares?

It doesn’t matter. We didn’t get Corbyn. We got Theresa May in 2017 and Boris Johnson now – partly because Labour apparatchiks conspired to bugger up Corbyn’s campaigns on one or both occasions, if you believe a certain report (I do).

And it diverts attention from the failures of the government we have – especially at a time when Parliament is about to resume sitting after the summer recess.

The Guardian‘s editorial has identified a few of the political crises from which the poll has diverted our attention. For example:

Rishi Sunak is determined to end his Job Retention Scheme – the furlough to you and me – at the end of October, triggering a huge wave of unemployment. That’s right, even more people are about to learn what Universal Credit is all about – and they’re not going to like it.

He’s facing an annual national deficit that will have grown to twice the amount faced by Gordon Brown’s Labour government during the so-called “great recession” of 2008 or thereabouts. His party made a lot of mileage out of criticising Labour’s handling of that recession, slithering back into office by claiming it would end deficit spending and cut the national debt as well (instead the Tories more than doubled the debt to £2 trillion).

And in November Sunak has to produce a budget that will boost the economy and return the national finances to some semblance of balance (fat chance! He’s already facing a backbench rebellion on his mooted plans for tax rises).

Nobody’s going back to work because they don’t trust the government’s proclamations that it is safe from Covid-19. Nobody is likely to go back to universities for the same reason. The only people likely to want to go back to school are the kids – and that’s because they’re probably a bit bored by now and want to see their buddies again.

The Johnson government’s determination to push through Brexit as planned by December 31 means the party that pledged to end the scourge of “red tape” is more likely to throttle us with it, as businesses have to deal with an avalanche of pointless bureaucracy.

These are all problems that the Tories have created for the rest of us, either by incompetence or by design, since they first came back into power in 2010 – and most particularly since Boris Johnson became prime minister last year.

You need to be thinking about that, but instead you’re being seduced into thinking about a dopey Twitter poll that doesn’t mean anything at all.

You’re watching the right-wingers fiddling around while your country burns around you.

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25 jobseekers for every job on Tory government’s own website

Do the Tories really intend to penalise people for failing to get work – according to Universal Credit rules – when there are so few jobs available?

Thanks to Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, and their government’s inability to manage Covid-19 properly, there are now 2.3 million UK citizens claiming Universal Credit.

Sanctions have been reimposed so they must follow the rules and go after the jobs that are available – no matter how unsuitable, or indeed distant.

The situation is absurd – as the Frank Zola blog pointed out while revealing that current figures on the government’s own jobsite mean 25 people are available for every job.

That’s not taking into account regional issues – the jobs are unlikely to be in the same places as all the people available for them.

What a ridiculous situation. And to think only last December people trusted the Tories.

Source: Absurd as 2.3 million Universal Credit claimants required to chase “90,939 Jobs” on DWP Jobsite (findajob.dwp.gov.uk) | Frank Zola

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Will glue company come unstuck over ‘two weeks without pay’ offer to Universal Credit claimants?


Why is the Tory government allowing this?

A glue company called Bond It has advertised jobs via Universal Credit work coaches – which may sound great in these recession-ridden times.

There’s only one catch:

The firm is asking UC claimants to do the work without pay for two weeks.

Not only that, but the job does not appear on Bond It’s own site, nor is its two-week unpaid “trial” mentioned on any other site that advertises jobs.

As Ben Claimant points out below, it is specifically for Universal Credit claimants.

And your Tory government supports this behaviour.

Your Tory government considers anybody on Universal Credit to be available to companies to work for nothing –

That’s slave labour, by the way!

– simply because they have to claim a so-called benefit that pushes them into poverty as a condition of claiming (that’s the intention of the five-week wait before payments begin), that punishes them if they are paid at irregular times of the month for the work they do, and that punishes them if they are unable to secure better-paid work.

Strangely, Labour has managed to actually ask the government what’s going on…

… although it is doubtful anything will come of this.

The story in the New Statesman article refers to a person who was already claiming UC, so is familiar with its injustices already.

But millions of people have signed on as a consequence of Covid-19.

I hope they get job offers like this.

It will show many of them what they’ve been supporting all these years.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Is this Tory scheme ‘to help disabled people work from home’ actually any good?

The Department for Work and Pensions is offering people with disabilities – who are able to work – financial help so they can do it at home.

This Writer hates to say it about the Tory DWP but it actually seems to be a good idea!

Please let me know if it doesn’t behave in the best interests of the people it is supposed to be helping (I can’t find out myself because I’m not disabled and Mrs Mike – who is – doesn’t work).

The blurb on gov.co.uk – sorry, gov.uk – says the Access to Work scheme is being extended due to the Covid crisis. It says:

“You can get grant funding if you’re disabled and need support to work from home because of Covid-19, which can help pay for special equipment such as a screen reader or video remote interpreting or support worker services.

“This funding can also be fast-tracked if you’re in the clinically extremely vulnerable group.

“If you’re travelling into the office and due to your health condition public transport isn’t a safe option for you at the moment, you can also apply for financial support with things like taxi fares.

“If you are anxious about returning to work and need support, you can also get mental health support through Access to Work with a tailored package of support for up to nine months.”

Apparently “applying for funding is easy” you can do it online at: gov.uk/access-to-work or over the phone on 0800 121 7479. “Following a short assessment, you can start getting support.”

I want to know if that’s accurate. Let me know your experiences.

Source: New help on offer for disabled people working from home during the pandemic – GOV.UK

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook