Tag Archives: working

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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DWP rejection of benefit increase call proves conclusively: we’re NOT ‘all in it together’

The Department for Work and Pensions has rejected a call by its own advisors to increase benefits and help two million people get through the Covid-19 crisis.

The Tory government promised to increase the amounts of Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits payable to claimants, way back in March.

But people on the so-called “legacy” benefits like Employment and Support Allowance have been denied the same courtesy.

Ministers said this is because it would take too much time to implement.

What – a few keystrokes on a computer takes too much time to implement? I don’t believe it.

How do they manage the regular annual upgrades, then?

This Writer reckons the intention all along was to give a false impression to normally-working people who were thrown onto UC by the Covid crisis, that the benefits system provides an ample safety cushion to claimants in need. It doesn’t.

People on the “legacy” benefits already know the system is set up to punish people for being out of work, and therefore are deemed not to need an increase that is only for show, while the Covid contingent is claiming.

In other words: the Covid-related benefits boost is just another public-relations scam.

Getting people through the crisis is only its secondary function.

Its main purpose is to reassure Conservatives in the electorate.

If it dupes enough Tory voters into continuing to vote Tory, it will have done its job.

Source: DWP rejects own advisers’ call to up benefits to help two million through coronavirus pandemic

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MPs get above-inflation pay rise to £82,000 after creating massive increase in in-work poverty

Doesn’t it make you proud to be British?

The so-called Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has given MPs an enormous pay rise.

They’ll now receive £82,000 as their basic salary, with ministers receiving much more. That’s a 3.1 per cent increase – much higher than the 1.8 per cent inflation rate.

And they’ll also get increased expenses – ostensibly to cover staffing costs.

Meanwhile, eight million working-age people are in poverty, with people in work totalling nearly 60 per cent of those in poverty.

So the Tories are rewarding themselves hugely for plunging the nation into poverty.

Source: MPs handed above-inflation pay rise to £82,000 | The Independent

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Family can’t afford one-bedroom flat despite full-time work in Tory Britain. Time for a change

Tory tragedy: The Conservatives have created a housing crisis. Can Labour end it?

The Conservatives keep telling us work is the way out of poverty, but in the run-up to the election, let’s remember that they have put an end to all that.

Consider the plight of Penny Sterling, who lives with her husband Garrett and 8 month old baby, Daniel in a one-bedroom flat in Richmond.

They privately rent a one bedroom flat but struggle to cover the rent and have had to borrow from family members, despite Garrett’s full time job at a major UK airport.

She says the rent takes up most of the family income and says she “hasn’t got a clue how people worse off than us even feed their families”.

So much for the Tory claim that they’ve been “making work pay”!

Oh, and Penny had to give up her own job in a care home because the cost of child care in Tory London would have put her in even deeper financial trouble than her family is already suffering.

The Tories have said they will make £1 billion available to fund affordable childcare places – but this is over several years and they do not say who would qualify or whether it would be paid to local authorities or individuals.

So much for the Tory claim to be improving access to child care!

Meanwhile, homelessness charity Shelter has published research showing that families are paying £11 billion more than they can afford on rent.

This indicates that Tory “social cleansing” – forcing poor people to move out of areas by making it unaffordable for them to stay – is still in progress.

The Sterlings have said they would consider moving as far as Bracknell – but this would trigger high commuting costs.

And it is possible that they would move into a situation that is just as bad, if they end up renting from another private landlord.

Their current property is in extreme need of repair, and so could any other privately-rented abode.

Labour is proposing a scheme to stop landlords from forcing tenants to pay extortionate rents while refusing to carry out repairs – under it, they would have to sell properties to tenants.

So, if you’re a private tenant, it seems clear that Labour is the party for you in the general election. Right?

Source: Family who can’t afford 1 bed flat show bleak reality of Britain’s housing crisis – Mirror Online

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Food bank use has soared by 3,800% and child poverty is up 38% under Conservative rule

Child poverty is skyrocketing under Conservative rule. It’s time for a change.

As Boris Johnson tried to woo business leaders, the Mirror has revealed shocking figures condemning the way the Conservatives have attacked working families.

Figures quoted by the paper show that child poverty in working families – that’s families where one or more parent has a job, remember – rose to 2.9 million cases last year. That’s an increase of 38 per cent since 2010.

Research by the TUC shows the number of children in poverty-hit homes has risen by 800,000 in that time. Bear in mind that this increase involved children who have since become poverty-stricken adults and new children who have been born into poverty during this period.

One in four children are affected – a quarter of our young people.

Food bank use has rocketed by 3,772 per cent under Tory rule, and the number of food banks operated by the UK’s largest such charity – the Trussell Trust – has rocketed from 57 to 425. That’s a 646 per cent increase.

Volunteers gave away 1,583,668 packages – 14,253,012 meals – in 2018/19, of which 577,618 went to children.

Tories love food banks.

Their existence means Conservative governments can continue cutting in-work benefits. They give the money saved away to the rich in tax breaks, rather than investing it in the UK’s economy or other services for the population.

Other factors in the increased use of food banks were weak wage growth and the insecurity of the work on offer.

Boris Johnson won’t have said anything about that to the CBI conference today (November 18); he doesn’t care.

As I write this, Jeremy Corbyn is addressing the CBI, offering “real change”.

If I were a business leader, I know who I would support.

Source: Foodbank hell for Britain as demand soars 3,800% under a decade of Tory rule – Mirror Online

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Unaffordable rents – arranged by Tories – are pushing low-income families towards homelessness

Nine out of every 10 homes for rent are too expensive for families on housing benefit or the equivalent, Local Housing Allowance – according to the National Housing Federation.

The report finds that 94 per cent of private rental properties are unaffordable for families on Housing Benefit, or the equivalent Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

It also found that 65 per cent of the families affected are in work – proving once again that the Tory mantra that “work is the best way out of poverty” is utter claptrap while they remain in office.

LHA was initially designed to cover the bottom 50 per cent of market rents – in any area. This was reduced to 30 per cent in 2011, after the Tory-led Coalition government came into power (with help from the Liberal Democrats). Rates were divorced from market rents altogether in 2013, and frozen in 2016.

One can only conclude that this was done to price benefit-dependent families out of the market. In the least-affordable parts of the UK – southern and eastern England – only one per cent of privately-rented properties are affordable to those on LHA.

Analysis of data on private rental listings found that:

  • Only 7.54% of rental properties advertised in England are affordable to LHA claimants.
  • “Family-sized” properties, i.e. those with two or more bedrooms, are even less affordable, with only 6.5% being affordable at the relevant LHA rate.
  • Southern and Eastern parts of England are the least affordable areas.
  • In 2011, LHA was set to the 30th percentile of rents within Broad Rental Market Areas, meaning that claimants should have been able to afford 30% of the rental market in each BRMA. In 2019, the median percentage of the rental market that is affordable within a BRMA is only 5.9%.
  • Only 2.75% of rooms within shared accommodation are affordable at LHA. The shared accommodation rate is usually the only LHA rate that single people aged under 35 may claim.

The National Housing Federation has drawn the obvious conclusion – that Tory policies have pushed homelessness to record levels – and are pushing children into overcrowded and poor quality accommodation, like shipping containers and converted office blocks.

The organisation is demanding that the government LHA payments to cover at least the lowest-costing 30 per cent of privately-rented homes again. It also wants a £12.8 billion annual investment in building new social housing.

I think we all know what’s likely to happen about that: Nothing.

You can read the full briefing here.

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More working people than ever are struggling to survive

Sinking, not swimming: Under the Conservatives, more and more people are failing to pay their way.

Terrifying new information from the Trade Union Congress has shown that millions of working people are struggling to survive due to poverty.

The TUC poll suggests 20 per cent of working people – one-fifth of the more-than-30-million-strong working population – skip meals because they can’t afford the food.

One in five workers go without heating during cold weather.

One in 10 fall into rent or mortgage arrears because they can’t pay on time.

And one in five have pawned or sold belongings because they needed the money.

Asked how they would deal with an unexpected £500 bill, 30 per cent said they would be unable to pay – up from 24 per cent in 2017. Of those who said they would pay, 24 per cent said they would have to go into debt or sell something.

A quarter said they were out of cash before the end of most months, and 16 per cent said they had to cut back their spending – or stop it altogether – many times a year.

And 41 per cent said one of their biggest concerns at work was the fact that their pay was not keeping up with the cost of living.

This is damning information that knocks the stuffing out of claims that wage rises are increasing faster than the rate of inflation. Is that still true after the top 10 per cent – or even one per cent – of earners are removed from the figures? For some reason, I couldn’t find that information when I looked for it.

I remember having arguments, years ago, with people who claimed heatedly that business bosses in the UK had to keep wages depressed because otherwise they would be forced to stop trading. I wonder how many of them live in luxury mansions while their employees struggle in bed-sits, converted shipping containers or office blocks, or are forced to sleep on the streets?

None of this will change for the better under a Conservative government – especially not under one run by Boris Johnson.

I wonder how many people realise this as they plough through their daily drudgery, their only source of information coming from BBC-approved propaganda that tells them Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is unelectable?

Do any of them even realise they are being played for fools?

Source: Millions of working people struggle to put food on the table, poll shows

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Nearly a quarter of the UK population has been pushed into poverty – but Tories don’t care about the poor

Tory fail: Pensioner poverty has risen under Conservative government policies.

Around 14.3 million people in the UK are now living in poverty, with seven million suffering “persistent” poverty and 4.5 million at least 50 per cent below the poverty line.

The revelation, in a report by the Social Metrics Commission, comes after it was revealed that Boris Johnson’s senior advisor believes Conservatives don’t care about the poor.

Dominic Cummings, who was also a chief architect of Brexit, said at the Conservative Party Conference in 2017: “People think, and by the way I think most people are right: ‘The Tory party is run by people who basically don’t care about people like me.’

“I know a lot of Tory MPs and I am sad to say the public is basically correct. Tory MPs largely do not care about these poorer people.”

It means Mr Johnson is unlikely to do anything about the fact that illness and disability disproportionately influences whether people live in poverty: 6.8 million people – 48 per cent of those in poverty – are in a family where someone has a disability.

Overall, 22 per cent of the population now live in poverty – and Tory policies appear to be responsible.

Poverty among pensioners rose from nine per cent in 2014-15 to 11 per cent in 2019.

Among children, it stood at 31 per cent in 2014-15 – and is now at 34 per cent.

And with Boris Johnson determined to push through a “no-deal” Brexit that is already damaging the economy and has sent the value of the pound plummeting, we can expect worse to follow.

Because he’s a Tory, and he doesn’t care about the poor. We’ve got that from his senior advisor so we can believe it.

Source: 7 million people in the UK are ‘living in persistent poverty’, report says

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Universal Credit isn’t the reason 1,000 more people a day are in work – no matter what McVey says

You need to keep this article handy for the next time Esther McVey falsely claims Universal Credit has put 1,000 people a day into work since mid-2010.

On October 17, she said: “We know that [Universal Credit] is working and getting people into work because our employment figures that came out yesterday show over 3.3 million more people in work since 2010.”

Shame Universal Credit only started to be inflicted on claimants in 2013 – and still has not been fully implemented across the UK.

On October 12, she said: “What we’ve done is look at the whole benefit system, how do we get people into work, 1,000 people each and every day. Those people will be on less benefit by the sheer nature that they’re now in work.”

No, those who are unfortunate enough to be on Universal Credit are on less benefit because Universal Credit pays less benefit.

In addition to that – and to what follows below – it should be noted that it only appears to be assumed that 1,000 people a day are going into work. I’ve seen no figures from employers to prove it and it seems the Tory government is assuming that this is where people are going, with no evidence.

The simple fact is that the Conservatives have legislated to make claiming benefits more trouble than it is worth, forcing people to try to find other ways of surviving.

Many fail. They are dead.

I wonder if the Conservatives have checked death statistics to make sure that their missing claimants haven’t passed away. Considering their refusal to check on the progress of sickness benefit claimants who were refused Employment and Support Allowance, I’m willing to bet that they haven’t.

So we don’t even know for sure that 1,000 people have gone into work every day since mid-2010.

Now read on…

Ms McVey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has repeatedly linked welfare policies introduced under the Conservative and coalition governments since 2010 to there being 3 million more people in work. This is a misleading link to draw.

The total number of people aged sixteen or over and in employment increased by 3.3 million between February-April 2010 (just before the coalition government took office) and June-August 2018 in the UK. But the increase in the total population aged sixteen or over was similar: 3 million. In short, having record numbers of people in work doesn’t sound as impressive when you consider there are record numbers of people.

The “employment rate” is a better way of assessing the government’s record on increasing employment. It tells us what percentage of the population is in work, rather than the total number.

The employment rate among those aged 16-64 has increased under the coalition and Conservative governments, rising from 70% in February-April 2010 to 76% in June-August 2018. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has called the rising employment rate “remarkable”, in the context of wider economic performance in the decade since the financial crash.

But despite this rise, there is a second key problem with claiming that changing employment figures are down to welfare changes: we don’t have clear evidence for it.

If Ms McVey does mean Universal Credit when she says welfare reforms, then it certainly can’t have driven all the change in employment levels since 2010, as it was only introduced in 2013, and is still not in place across the whole of the UK.

The government also argues that this will get 200,000 more people will be in work by 2024/25 (compared to ten years earlier).

However, the National Audit Office says that, because of limitations in the methodology behind the government’s calculations, “the Department will never be able to measure whether Universal Credit actually leads to 200,000 more people in work”. They have also expressed “significant doubt” about the main benefits of Universal Credit.

The bottom line is that we can’t say with any precision what is driving changes in employment and unemployment rates.

Source: Universal Credit isn’t the reason there are 1,000 more people a day in work – Full Fact

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Israel’s Arab MPs back Corbyn – and oppose IHRA definition – in antisemitism row

In a Knesset session, Arab MPs protest against recent legislation that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

If your knee-jerk reaction to the headline is, “They would, wouldn’t they?” then you need to read what follows.

You see, the letter from the Joint List MPs in the Israeli Knesset – who include one Jewish representative – could really put the cat among the pigeons.

It highlights the double-standard of a UK organisation setting Jews above all other minorities – giving them protections available to nobody else – when the self-defined “nation-state of the Jewish people” has just stolen rights from all minorities in Israel.

It highlights the fact that the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism – which the Labour Party in the UK is under extreme pressure to adopt in full – prohibits opposition to Zionism, which is not a characteristic of Judaism but a political philosophy that, as characterised by the government of Israel, is racist.

Where does this put those in the UK who are demanding that Labour adopt the IHRA definition?

Where does it put Gordon Brown, who has put pressure on Labour’s NEC to adopt IHRA in full, “unanimously, unequivocally and immediately”, saying Labour is all about equality and solidarity?

IHRA would grant Jewish people more privileges than any other minority in the UK. That’s not equality. The demand that Labour supports Zionism is not solidarity.

It would be collusion in racism, as the Joint List letter makes clear.

Where does it put Margaret Hodge, who has admitted that the anti-Semitism row in the Labour Party is about right-wingers like herself and Mr Brown trying to remove Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the party?

She said: “The problem is that he is the problem.”

It puts them on particularly weak territory.

And where does it put Labour’s National Executive Committee, which is due to vote in a meeting on Tuesday, on whether to adopt the full IHRA definition, with all its examples including support for Zionism with all the implications of support for racism that it entails?

If it supports the change, the NEC will be deliberately provoking constituency party units that have supported the current code of conduct, which supports the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism but omits some examples in favour of explanations that improve on those put forward by the IHRA – removing ambiguities that prohibit criticism of Zionism and/or policies of the Israeli government?

It leaves them up to their necks in the… soup.

If they support a move to describe criticism of racist Israeli policies as anti-Semitic; if they support demands to prohibit criticism of the racist, land-grabbing and genocidal political philosophy that supports such policies; if they support self-determination for Jewish people but not for Palestinians…

They will be worse than those who are demanding it of them – because they will be silencing international condemnation that may be the only way to prevent the name of Palestine becoming just another entry in a history book – and the Palestinian people being the victims of another avoidable genocide.

A political alliance of four Arab-dominated parties in Israel’s parliament have broken ranks with fellow legislators to announce their support for Jeremy Corbyn.

In a letter to the Guardian, the Knesset members said they commended the Labour leader for “his long-standing solidarity with all oppressed peoples around the world, including his unflinching support for the Palestinian people”.

They added: “We stand in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn and we recognise him as a principled leftist leader who aspires for peace and justice and is opposed to all forms of racism, whether directed at Jews, Palestinians, or any other group.”

“As long as efforts to curb anti-Jewish sentiment in the UK are focused on combating the disparagement of Jews merely for their membership in a minority group, they have our full support,” said the group, which includes the deputy speaker, Ahmad Tibi. But they added that the definition of antisemitism “goes far beyond anti-Jewish animus to include anti-Zionism”.

Arab and other minorities in Israel have felt under threat after the Knesset passed a law in July declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination, encouraging Jewish settlement, and downgrading the status of the Arabic language.

The Joint List letter said Palestinian citizens of Israel have “yet to experience a single day of equality”, adding that millions more in the West Bank live under occupation and “under siege in the Gaza Strip”.

“Incredibly, instead of taking that government to task for its unadulterated racism, the British political class ignores the Palestinian historical plight,” it said. “With the Netanyahu government ramping up the racism, our struggle for survival is more precarious than ever.”

Source: Israel’s Arab MPs back Corbyn in antisemitism row | World news | The Guardian

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