1) Jobseekers must now take on zero hour contracts or face sanction
Jobseekers will face sanctions for three months or more if they do not take on zero hour contracts, according to a leaked letter from Employment Minister Esther McVey last week.
For the first time, claimants could be sanctioned for not applying or accepting certain zero hour contract jobs, despite growing concern that these contracts lead to insecure employment and an undue upper hand to the employer. The ONS revealed last week that 1.4 million Brits were now on zero hour contracts, a number that has more than doubled in the last year.
“The senior Tory confirmed that, under the new system, Jobcentre “coaches” would be able to “mandate to zero-hours contracts“, although they would have discretion about considering whether a role was suitable.”
Government insists the change is possible because Universal Credit will be able to track what hours were worked each week and adjust payments to suit. However, the Universal Credit system has been awash with problems and delays, and critics say this could hamper claimant chances of finding more secure work or training.
2) In-work Housing benefit claimants rise by 60% since coalition
The number of people in-work claiming housing benefits has risen by 60% since the coalition took power in 2010.
The figures were revealed by the House of Commons Library after a request from the Labour Party, and showed “the number of Housing Benefit claimants who are in-work and struggling to keep up with their rent payments increased from 650,561 in May 2010 to 1.03 million by the end of 2013, and is continuing to rise.”
This will cost the taxpayer an extra £4.8 billion by May 2015 and demonstrates that falls in working conditions and pay are also contributing to rises in poverty, and that claimants are not restricted to the unemployed.
The rise also demonstrates the spread of extortionate rents, which people are struggling to keep up with. Yet, the rate of house building remains at it’s lowest for decades, despite the prospect of creating jobs, housing stock and affordable rent prices.
3) Tory led company made £8m profit from Royal Mail fire sale
An investment bank which made profits of £8m in one week following the sale of the Royal Mail, was led by former Tory Chairman, Archie Norman.
Lazard, a bank which was invited to advise on the Royal Mail deal whilst also given preferential terms in the sale of under-priced Royal Mail shares, was promoted by Vince Cable as one of the firms that would form “a core of high quality investors.” Yet, one of the divisions put their shares up for sale within a few days, taking advantage of the predictable rise in price and trousering £8m in one week.
Financial News reported back in July 2013:
“Lazard, the independent investment bank, has appointed former Conservative minister and ex-Asda chief executive Archie Norman as its London chairman, as the firm works on the privatisation of the Royal Mail.”
“Norman, 59, who has been a senior adviser to Lazard since 2003, will strengthen his ties with the investment bank at a time when a string of UK Government mandates are up for grabs.”
4) Britain’s rich now have more than pre-recession wealth
The Sunday Times Rich List has revealed that there are more than 100 billionaires now living in Britain, with a combined wealth of £301 billion.
This has more than tripled from a decade ago, when £700m was required to enter Britain’s top 50 wealthiest people. The entry rate is £1.7 billion now.
The UK has the highest rate of billionaires per head anywhere in the world, and London has the highest rate of any city.
5) “I have no time for you, sir” – BBC Question Time audience member tells Farage.
by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass