Archives For low pay

1) HSBC offers full page apology only for the least of their crimes

“They don’t mention all the tens of thousands of beheaded people in Mexico and Columbia. They don’t mention all those ripped off by all the Libor rigging, or all the clients they ripped off in the Forex scandal.”

Stacey Herbert

Max Keiser hits the nail on the head in this video, putting some perspective on the actions, treatment and non-punishment for years of mass criminal behaviour and financial terrorism at one of our largest banks, including the fact HSBC funded terrorist groups. The media has worked hard to shape the debate and limit our understanding of the gross injustice inflicted on the world by banks like HSBC. In the video, co-host Stacey Herbert highlights that the Department of Justice in the UK failed to prosecute and punish HSBC because of ‘collateral consequences’ suggesting they are too big to punish. However, Iceland has punished, sentenced and regulated their financial industries and guess what? Their economy has not collapsed, and their public are much safer.

2) Peter Oborne publicly resigns from The Telegraph over ‘fraudulent’ coverage

Political Commentator, Peter Oborne publicly resigned from The telegraph with this letter posted on Open Democracy where he accuses the Telegraph of having committed a fraud on its readers over coverage of HSBC.

 

Image: The Commentator

Image: The Commentator

From the letter:

“With the collapse in standards has come a most sinister development. It has long been axiomatic in quality British journalism that the advertising department and editorial should be kept rigorously apart. There is a great deal of evidence that, at the Telegraph, this distinction has collapsed.

“Late last year I set to work on a story about the international banking giant HSBC. Well-known British Muslims had received letters out of the blue from HSBC informing them that their accounts had been closed. No reason was given, and it was made plain that there was no possibility of appeal. “It’s like having your water cut off,” one victim told me.”

“When I submitted it for publication on the Telegraph website, I was at first told there would be no problem. When it was not published I made enquiries. I was fobbed off with excuses, then told there was a legal problem. When I asked the legal department, the lawyers were unaware of any difficulty. When I pushed the point, an executive took me aside and said that “there is a bit of an issue” with HSBC. Eventually I gave up in despair and offered the article toopenDemocracy. It can be read here.

“I researched the newspaper’s coverage of HSBC. I learnt that Harry Wilson, the admirable banking correspondent of the Telegraph, had published an online story about HSBC based on a report from a Hong Kong analyst who had claimed there was a ‘black hole’ in the HSBC accounts. This story was swiftly removed from the Telegraph website, even though there were no legal problems. When I asked HSBC whether the bank had complained about Wilson’s article, or played any role in the decision to remove it, the bank declined to comment. Mr Wilson’s contemporaneous tweets referring to the story can be found here. The story itself, however, is no longer available on the website, as anybody trying to follow through the link can discover. Mr Wilson rather bravely raised this issue publicly at the ‘town hall meeting’ when Jason Seiken introduced himself to staff. He has since left the paper.

“Then, on 4 November 2014, a number of papers reported a blow to HSBC profits as the bank set aside more than £1 billion for customer compensation and an investigation into the rigging of currency markets. This story was the city splash in the Times, Guardian and Mail, making a page lead in theIndependent. I inspected the Telegraph coverage. It generated five paragraphs in total on page 5 of the business section.

“The reporting of HSBC is part of a wider problem. On 10 May last year theTelegraph ran a long feature on Cunard’s Queen Mary II liner on the news review page. This episode looked to many like a plug for an advertiser on a page normally dedicated to serious news analysis. I again checked and certainly Telegraph competitors did not view Cunard’s liner as a major news story. Cunard is an important Telegraph advertiser.”

In this short video, Oborne explains how news judgements were made based on advertising partners which severely distorts journalism. This is why we need Real Media.

3)  Cameron takes aim at working poor and ‘unhealthy’

While David Cameron claims to be on the side of the ‘hardworking’ he quietly slipped through plans for a pilot scheme beginning in April targeting and punishing those in low paid or part time work.

It is important to bear in mind that Cameron has garnered an environment of low pay and insecure employment with record numbers of people in in-work poverty. The Prime Minister has taken steps to remove power and rights from employees, and give more to employers. This allows large employers to exploit desperate workforces, keeping them on poverty wages, while company profits are subsidised by the state when topping up low pay. And for this, Cameron now plans to make the lives of employees even harder with the kind of bureaucratic delays, sanctions, punishment and hardship which halt people’s ability to function or get on in society.

“One change in particular threatens to scupper Cameron’s claim to be on the side of Britain’s hard working people. In an alteration to legislation that went largely unnoticed at the end of last month, the government introduced a pilot for 15,000 low-paid working universal credit claimants. Those participating in the mandatory scheme may find that their benefits are reduced if they do not actively seek to work more hours or increase their salary.

“The change is important because this policy goes beyond targeting jobseekers, the sick and disabled. If penalises those who are hard at work, maintaining part-time, low-salaried jobs

“Labour peer Baroness Sherlock said in the House of Lords before the secondary legislation was introduced: ‘If you have been on benefits and you get a job, you do not expect the department to ring you up at work saying, “Come and talk to me because you’re not working enough”.

‘I think that people who feel that they have escaped the tender ministrations of the jobcentre are going to be a little taken aback when they find that it starts following them to work.’

“Sanctions can apply of claimants working less than 35 hours a week on minimum wage (typically £12,000 a year) who do not comply with the scheme. Failure may include failing to attend ‘job focused interviews’ or failing to apply for a job that might bring in extra hours. Welfare reform minister Lord David Freud says “tougher” conversations will be had with claimants after two months.

“For claimants, one of the most worrying aspects of the programme – called work related requirements – is that it can apply to housing benefit (technically the housing cost element of universal credit). That’s potentially a chunk of your rent lost to the DWP if you do not take active steps to get a better-paid job.”

Cameron also announced that benefits would be cut for obese people and addicts who refused ‘help’, pretending he was a moral crusader by condemning more poor people as moral failures who need to be punished.  Meanwhile, Tory Minister Lord Green is protected and rewarded by Cameron and his party, despite his chairmanship of HSBC during heinous criminal activity remarked on above. He cares so much.

Read more about this story here.

4) Universal Credit Fact Sheet

HuffPost shared this fact sheet on the bewildering Universal Credit system, just in case there was any lingering confusion on the flagship scheme which is now being rolled out nationally.

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(Fact sheet created for HuffPost UK Comedy by David Schneider and David Beresford)

Daniel Pacey, who was featured in the government’s own film about Universal Credit, has since spoken out about the ‘nightmare’ system which left him with no money for six weeks before his first payment, and ongoing problems and delays to his claim. Pacey warned that Universal Credit is likely to push people into hardship.

5) Firefighters strike this Wednesday

Firefighters confirmed plans for a 24 hour walkout taking place this Wednesday, over continued fights for pensions and disputes on retirement age.

The strike comes after fire authorities backed down on promises to not reduce pensions for those failing fitness tests over the age of 55.

The strike begins at 7am on Wednesday with many staff joining a Fire Brigades Union demonstration in Westminster.

Read more about this story here.

1) ‘That’s rich’ – Osborne feigns concern for energy costs to consumers. Election time is here.

Image: businessforscotland.co.uk

Image: businessforscotland.co.uk

Chancellor George Osborne and the Tories attempted to double back on energy policy they had promoted and voted for to feign concern for the public. Unsurprising that this has happened four months before the election, as Michael Meacher explained in his post last week:

“It’s really rich that Osborne has tweeted: “Vital this (drop in the oil price) is passed on to families at petrol pumps, through utility bills and air fares”.   He’s spent the last 5 years lambasting Labour in support of the Tory free market mantra that the State should get out of the way and leave it all to the markets.   Now rather pathetically he’s pleading with market operators to show a dose of fair play rather than exploit a windfall for their own interests which is the natural instinct of capitalism.   It takes some gall for Osborne to try to jump on the bandwagon at the last minute, four months before the election, when he’s been aggressively promoting ruthless self-interest throughout his chancellorship.”

Osborne’s gesture is made even more hypocritical and insincere when taking into account the Tory participation in the vote AGAINST giving the UK’s energy regulator a statutory duty to pass on energy savings to customers when wholesale prices fall. You can see a list of who voted against and for on the Vox Political site here.

The cost of this self-interest goes much further than hypocrisy before an election. Last year, there were 18,000 excess winter deaths in the UK, with more than 6,000 dying from the impact of a cold home.

2) Manifesto calls on next government to end homelessness

A manifesto sent to politicians by Homeless.org calls on those seeking the next government to vow to end homelessness by focusing on five key areas. “Let’s Make the Difference” uses the experiences of those who have been homeless, and the services that support them, to understand what is needed from government.

The manifesto says that it is ‘unacceptable’ that people are sleeping rough in Britain today. And they are right. We have the resources to house every person in this country, yet homelessness is rising, increasing in cost to the public purse and the mental and physical health of those out on the streets.

Homeless.org.uk

Homeless.org.uk

Read the manifesto in brief and find out more about homeless,org here. 

Read the full manifesto here.

3) Greens have more members than UKIP

The number of Green Party members overtook UKIP numbers last week.

“On Thursday morning Green Party sources said it had 43,829 members as of midday. Ukip’s reported membership is 41,966.

Green Party sources also claimed to have put on 2,000 members yesterday, in what potentially is its biggest one-day surge in numbers ever.”

The news comes as The Green Party leader Natalie Bennett battles for a spot on TV debates.

Ofcom ruled that the Greens were not a ‘major party’ in the way that Lib Dems, UKIP, Conservatives and Labour are. However, following this increase in members many are calling this ruling into question.

David Cameron said that he would not take part in the debates if the Greens were not included, and has been accused of using this as an excuse to avoid the debates. Clegg said the idea of Cameron’s concern for a fair debate with the Greens included was ‘laughable’.

Read more about this story here.

4) Farage faces challenge from FUKP

Al Murray’s comic character, The Pub Landlord, has announced he is standing for election in Thanet alongside Nigel Farage, for the Guv’nor’s newly formed Free United Kingdom Party “because it’s time for a man waving around a pint offering some common sense solutions.”

The landlord sets out 13 points as his manifesto in this following video, assuring voters he will “make Thanet the capital of the UK” with “pints for 1p” adding:

“Let it be known that like many of the Parliamentary hopefuls in the forthcoming election, I have no idea where South Thanet is – but did that stop Margaret Thatcher from saving the Falkland Islands? No.”

5) Government names and shames 37 National Minimum Wage offenders

The government released the names of 37 employers who failed to pay the National Minimum Wage to employees on 15th January. Business Minister Jo Swinson released names and penalties totalling £51,000 for the employers who owe £177,000 collectively. This follows the release of 55 other offenders since the ‘naming regime’ came into force in October 2013.

Employers face fines of up to £20,000 for paying below the minimum wage, currently set at £6.50 for those aged 21+. Jo Swinson has announced that government are now looking to apply this penalty per employee rather than per company.

You can find the list of employers here.

 

1) Record numbers of people on low-pay

A report by the Resolution Foundation has found that there are record numbers of people stuck on low pay in Britain.

After an additional 250,000 people joined the workforce last year on or around the minimum wage, there are now around 5.2m people on less than two thirds of the median hourly pay, £7.69.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

The minimum wage was recently increased to £6.50 but after years of failing to keep pace with inflation, the minimum wage is rendering an amount that leaves millions in poverty.

The coalition vowed to ‘make work pay’ but the report from the Resolution Foundation suggests that the bottom-heavy jobs market will see less tax paid as lower incomes are taken out of the tax bracket, and a growing benefits bill as workers are unable to make ends meet.

“All political parties have expressed an ambition to tackle low pay, yet the proportion of low-paid workers has barely moved in the last 20 years.”

Matthew Whittaker, Resolution Foundation

Part of the increased difficulty in low pay is the increased amount of time many are spending trapped on low pay. In 2004, around 11% of the workforce were within 5p of the minimum wage for over 5 years. In 2013, this figure was 23%.

Read more about this story here.

Read our earlier interview with the Resolution Foundation here.

2) Child Poverty rising in UK because of austerity measures, says Unicef

child poverty

More than 1 in 4 children are now living in poverty, and it is only going to get worse, says charity Unicef.

The charity found the UK’s attempts at reducing poverty “disappointing” in comparison to 18 other wealthy countries who had actually cut down on the issue during the recession.

The UK was also ranked 25th out of 41 developed nations for allowing the economic crisis to affect vulnerable families.

Ahead of further austerity measures, Unicef warn that these problems will only get worse.

However, the Department for Work and Pensions has hit back at the report which compiled data from 2008 to 2012. The DWP said that the report makes ‘distorted comparisons’ due to a change in the reporting used, which switched from ONS figures to ones compiled by the DWP in the last year of the report.

A spokesperson for the DWP said (with reckless disregard to the previous story and other reports of growing child poverty):

“Our reforms are improving the lives of some of the poorest families by promoting work and helping people to lift themselves out of poverty.”

Read more about this story here.

3) Leaked memo shows continued struggle to rollout ‘Universal Credit’

A leaked memo shows that the government is still struggling to rollout the flagship Universal Credit scheme.

The memo titled ‘Ideas Please: Sinking’ was sent by a jobcentre manager to her staff in a plea for help with ways to deal with the increased workload from the new social security system.

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The memo was uncovered by Channel 4’s Dispatches and shows that in one of the centres where the scheme has been rolled out “is generating such a substantial backlog of claims, centre staff will have to work three times more than their limit to clear it.”

Read more about this story here.

4) Fracking company applies for licence in London

A new fracking company has applied for a licence to frack in London in an area that reaches from Harrow to near Downing Street in Central London.

Nick Grealy, who runs London Local Energy is outspoken in his support for the fracking industry, and says that fracking in London will make it easier to overcome the complaints about noise pollution raised in the mainly rural areas where fracking has previously been proposed. He also said:

“We want to light a fire under the debate and we want to make money as well.”

Quite.

Read more about this story here. 

5) One-man protest over ‘slave labour’

John McArthur, 59, has been staging a one man protest against slave labour, outside the charity he used to work for.

McArthur has not claimed benefits since August after refusing to participate in a six month work placement at LAMH Recycle in Motherwell. He is now struggling to pay bills and rent as a result.

Still, McArthur protests outside LAMH Recycle for two hours every weekday, handing out leaflets and informing the public of the government workfare scheme LAMH Recycle use.

Image: The Motherwell Times

Image: The Motherwell Times

McArthur used to work for the same company he protests against, and was paid the minimum wage. After falling into unemployment, the jobcentre attempted to place McArthur on a workfare placement at LAMH Recycle, which would see him work for free at his previous employer.

“He said; “It’s essentially slave labour which bypasses the minimum wage regulations.

“My trade is electronics, but I’ve been applying for every kind of job. I make around 50 applications a week, but I refuse to work for nothing.”

Mr McArthur, who is single, said it’s not the first time he’s had his benefits stopped – he went without for 18 months after pulling out of another Government programme.

Although he has a works pension, he is struggling to survive without jobseeker’s allowance. He said: “I can’t put the heating on and I’m living on 16p tins of spaghetti.”

Motherwell Times

Read more about this story here.

6) Ritzy Cinema’s Living Wage Campaigners WIN!

The owner of Ritzy Cinema in Brixton made a huge u-turn on threats to job cuts for a third of staff, instead implementing the Living Wage which staff and campaigners have been demanding.

The news that the cinema would cut jobs sparked a fightback from staff, seeing public protests and boycotts. The campaign was supported by several celebrities including Will Self, Owen Jones and Russell Brand.

Now managers have backed down and said that no one will face redundancy.

Image: citizensuk.org

Image: citizensuk.org

Cineworld managers say that there were crossed wires in communication with Picturehouse, who manage Ritzy, and these played out in the ‘public domain,’ adding they were not consulted on the measures to cut jobs.

Read more about this story here.

7) Disabled woman steals food after benefits are stopped

In a case that highlights how the poor are being criminalised for their poverty, a disabled woman in Poulton faced charges over theft from a supermarket after her benefits were stopped and she was left penniless.

Wendy Rogers, 51, plead guilty to two charges of theft from Asda, where she stole Lamb and cheese. She had no previous convictions.

Read more about this story here.

8) AltGen & Co-operatives UK offer start-up money for new co-operatives in Young Co-operator’s Prize

AltGen, a co-operative dedicated to enabling young people to create their own employment as a solution to the insecure jobs market, are offering several prizes of £2000 along with mentoring and business advice in the Young Co-operator’s Prize.

To enter or find out more, visit the website and check out their video below!

“As the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission (2013: 6) recently concluded, ‘a comprehensive approach to tackling in-work poverty is the missing piece of the Government’s policy jigsaw’.”

Joseph-Rowntree-Foundation

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has released some research on tackling low-pay. The report, Rewarding Work For Low Pay Workers, looked at possible ways to deal with the growing problem of low pay, and to find the causes of it’s prevalence. The growth of in-work poverty is damaging, and tackling low pay is one way of addressing the issue, though the JRF noted, it is not the full story.

The report found that the complexity of the issue could lead to no single one size fits all approach, but there are definite actions that could improve the jobs landscape and opportunities for jobseekers.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

Encouraging better pay from those who can afford it

“There are organisations, including large organisations in sectors with a high incidence of low pay such as retail, that could clearly pay substantially more to those they employ, either directly or through contractors, without this having any discernible impact on costs or profits,” according to the JRF report.

However, the report also highlights that this is not universally true, and smaller companies or contractors struggle to pay the National Minimum Wage, thus “policymakers prefer to play safe and combine a modest NMW with tax credits for low-income households.” This has meant that while the NMW has abolished “extreme low pay,” it hasn’t stopped the widening numbers of those on low pay, as large companies who can afford to pay more take advantage of tax credits and the state help to top up wages.

Concentrating the help the state can give to those who most need it would be helpful here, but this over-widening of resources and help to the point of benefitting those that don’t need benefitting is common in other areas of policy too.

Take for example the introduction of childcare vouchers by George Osbourne last year. Families earning up to £300,000 can claim £1200 in childcare vouchers to help them get into work or work more. However, the scope to upper levels of income in this scheme take away concentrated life-changing help from those in need, who are at the bottom of the pay scale. We spoke about this with Giselle Cory, from the Resolution Foundation a while back:

“I think a much better way to spend the money, is to make sure the people who can be persuaded into work and can be helped into work… we focus whatever funds we can on childcare for these families, because it’s firstly, unlikely that higher income families would change their decision about work based on that support, and secondly, it’s unlikely that a large proportion of their income would be taken up by childcare. So we’re not changing their lives much. We’re helping them a little bit, but the life changing stuff is for the people on low incomes. The government have proposed £200 million of extra childcare for this group, but the problem is that £200 million doesn’t really go far enough. You either have to target a specific sub-group or it’s spread out amongst everyone and you lessen it’s bite significantly.”

In a similar way, concentrating tax credits and help to smaller companies who are struggling to pay the NMW would allow more resources for those who distinctly need it, and less cost to the taxpayer for topping up wages that can be afforded by the employer.

“Influence of Conceptual frameworks”

Amongst the organisations where low pay is present but not necessary, conceptual motivations can help push them to pay more. Hence when the Living Wage concept entered the mainstream and companies were called on to adopt the wage voluntarily, many did in order to align themselves with being good employers. Awareness in the public field and reputation can encourage employers who are able to raise wages to do so.

“It is no wonder that organisations most willing to sign the pledge on the Living Wage are large, highly profitable corporates in sectors such as banking and finance (Bain, 2013).”

One very successful example of this is the “Best Companies to Work For” list. This has often been “cited as a reason why some large employers in sectors such as retail choose to pay employees more than the NMW or offer an array of non-wage benefits to boost their reputation in the eyes of employees, potential employees, customers and the community at large.”

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Adding value to low wage employers

“But what would be of little consequence for these organisations is at the same time likely to result in a significant profit squeeze for many low-paying organisations. Those that find this difficult – where raising prices means less business and they’re unable to absorb costs through increased efficiency – may have little choice other than to cut the number of people they employ or the hours of work they offer simply in order to survive, to the detriment of low-paid workers themselves.”

On the other side of the scale are the companies who would struggle with raising wages, and this JRF report looked into ways to improve the working conditions and benefits for employees that could see an increase in value in the job and employee experiences.

“With increased demand for higher level knowledge skills generally outstripping increased supply, the underlying tendency has been for pay at the top of the distribution to rise relative to the pay in the middle. By contrast, the supply of people seeking work in service-oriented jobs has generally exceeded demand, thereby depressing pay toward the level of the NMW, making the UK’s low-paid labour market, in the words of the first Chairman of the Low Pay Commission, ’increasingly bottom heavy’ (Bain 2013).”

As well as this, rewards and non-pay benefits have also stalled in the make up of low pay organisations. Between 2004-2011 there was “no general increase in the provision of flexible working practices; indeed, the proportion of workplace managers who consider balancing work and family responsibilities as down to individual employees rather than the organisation increased from 56% to 71%.”

These attitudes are also symptomatic of a jobs market which is moving in the direction of greater (undue) power to the employer, whilst reducing power and stability for the employee. These conditions are growing in the jobs market with statistics from the ONS last week revealing that 1.4 million Brits are not on Zero hour contracts with one in ten employers now using these casual employment contracts, that do not commit employers to holiday pay, sick pay or a minimum promise of work.

The JRF report stated, “given that labour turnover is costly and low employee morale can be detrimental to their productivity or overall organisational performance, it is thus contended that low-paying organisations could improve their financial bottom line by improving the working conditions of their employees.”

This is also conducive to other benefits for the employee and wider society:

“The Government Office for Science, through the Foresight Unit, has stressed the importance of good working conditions to mental well-being in the workplace and society as a whole (Foresight Unit, 2008).”

The JRF used the example of the care sector, to demonstrate where rewarding workplaces are necessary in low pay sectors, to provide a good service, as documented in the final report of the Commission on Dignity in Care for Older People (2012:13):

“Caring for older people is skilled, demanding and often stressful work. Staff who are appropriately trained and who feel valued and empowered to make decisions will be the ones who support dignified care. Staff who are denied the right to training and development, who do not feel valued by their organisation, who are not encouraged by their managers, and who do not feel that they have the freedom to make the right decisions for patients and residents are far more likely to deliver poor care.”

However, improving working conditions can differ in meaning and approach from workplace to workplace. “The Good Work Commission, established by the Work Foundation, describes the concept of GW (Good Work) as ‘inherently ambiguous’, with some definitions emphasising the interests of the employees while others focus on what it means for employers and the wider community. According to the Commission, for employees GW concerns the development of skills; choice, flexibility and control over working hours and the pace of work; trust, communication and the ability to have a say in decisions that affect them; and a balance between effort and reward. For employers, GW is about engaging employees to encourage their contribution to organisational success. For the community, GW is about organisations being socially aware, ethical and sustainable.”

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This requires the close attention and respect of the role of human resources and development (HRM/D). Managers and owners would need to lock into what would make a difference to their employees. The JRF noted that the presence of HRM/D personnel lowered the smaller a company or workplace got, however, their presence is also not useful unless they are committed to making a difference.

“If managers merely pay lip service to HRM/D practices, this will limit their effectiveness. But this lip-service effect might itself be a reflection of deeper inadequacy in leadership and management, or indicative of a low-trust organisational cultures that also impinges on performance.”

The effect of creating better working environments and resourceful, supportive management approaches has long been considered effective for employee, who gains the benefits of this environment, and employer, who gains a more efficient and productive employee. The ideas behind improving HRM/D have gathered pace in the last few years, “so much so that ‘personnel economics’ is now considered a major sub-field in labour economics” (Bloom & van Reenan, 2010).

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But it is the application of these approaches which could see their downfall for low wage employers, especially when taking into consideration the poor skill levels of managers in the UK:

“Given this, improving the quality of management and leadership might be a more appropriate means of improving organisational performance than the adoption of HRM/D practices per se – a possibility strengthened by evidence that UK managers are less well qualified than managers in other advanced economies despite being far greater in number (there are 4.8 million ‘managers and senior officials’ in the UK, accounting for one in six people in employment; Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) 2012).

“The definition of ‘manager’ is more loosely applied in the UK compared with other countries – hence the large management cadre – but only one in five has a management-related qualification and of these fewer than two in five are qualified at NVQ level 44 or above. According to the UKCES, only one in three organisations provide management training, another report for the government also commenting that ‘UK provision of leadership and management training tends to be ad hoc rather than strategic’ (BIS 2012: 20).

“Studies suggest that this comparative deficit in management quality contributes to the UK’s well-known productivity gap with major competitors and results in the UK having a ‘long-tail of poorly managed firms’ (ibid).

“One consequence of this is that UK managers are found to be slower and less successful at translating new management practices into improved performance than their counterparts in France, Germany and the United States. Survey-based analysis also shows a statistical relationship between organisations’ commitment to management and leadership development, related HRM/D practices and organisational performance measures (McBain et al 2012). The relationship was found to be associated with a 23% variation in organisational performance measures, though no direct causal process was demonstrated.”

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The report concluded that there was no clear single answer to tackling low pay, but that a campaign that encourages workplaces to become ‘Anti-poverty Employers’ or something similar could help improve the working conditions and pay in some companies.

Further, HRM/D could help companies who already struggle to pay their staff at NMW to add value to the employment they offer. However, certain industries such as care and hospitality which may be contracted and thus, the aim is to keep costs as low as possible, or that the sector is historically a low paid industry with factors that maintain the pressure on low wages, need closer attention, as the effects of improving the working conditions and pay in these sectors can bear the fruit of better service and efficiency – which these sectors are built to provide.

Facts from Rewarding Work For Low Paid Workers:

  • “At one in six private-sector workplaces, at least a quarter of employees were paid an hourly rate at or below the adult National Minimum Wage (the proportion is as high as two in five in the wholesale and retail sectors; and one in four in the hotel and restaurant sectors). The corresponding proportion in the public sector is 1 in 40.”
  • “The hospitality, retail and cleaning sectors together account for over half (54%) of minimum wage jobs, while social are, childcare, transport, food processing and storage each account for between 3% and 4%.”
  • “The incidence of low pay rises as the size of organisation falls: minimum wage jobs account for one in 20 jobs in large firms (250 or more
    employees) but one in twelve in small firms (10–49 employees) and one in eight in micro-firms (1–9) employees.”
  • “If the Living Wage were paid universally in the private sector, the government would at present save £3.6 billion from increased tax revenues, higher National Insurance contributions and reduced spending on tax credits to the low paid.”

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

George Osborne announced earlier this month that he would support the suggestion of the Low Pay Commission to raise the minimum wage in the UK to £7 from it’s current £6.31. Should the move go ahead, we will see the wage instated around Autumn bringing it in line with inflation for 2015, and catching up three years earlier than expected.

The Telegraph

The Telegraph

This signals an 11% increase and there have been some warnings about potential detrimental effects on SMEs (small and medium enterprises), should the move go ahead. In fact, any raise in the minimum wage, particularly during the recession, has seen a strong backlash from businesses of all sizes.

When the minimum wage was first brought in, in 1999, Conservatives opposed it, and economists predicted that it would have a devastating effect on the economy. It didn’t. In fact, it brought stability to the market, and raised living standards for those entering work.

Indeed, it will be SME’s who will struggle most with adapting to the proposed increase, and had the minimum wage increased steadily over time, this jump would be unnecessary and maybe, more adjustable.

Nevertheless, the raise is much needed, and whilst we focus on the effects on business, we also need to understand what the current rate is doing to our economy and those on the minimum wage.

The Resolution Foundation calculates that the minimum wage is around £1,010 lower a year than it was in 2008, in real terms. “That matters because around 1 million adult workers in Britain are paid the minimum wage, while twice that number earn within 50 pence of the minimum wage.”

Resolution Foundation

Resolution Foundation

The pressure put on keeping the minimum wage low and straggling behind inflation against rising living costs has caused the current rising rates of in-work poverty, where families and individuals working full time continue to live below the bread line. In September, in Wales, the number of people in in-work poverty, outnumbered the ones out of work – proof that retaining the current minimum wage will fail to make work pay, increase poverty and de-incentivise work.

Some help has been provided by the state up to now, in the form of Tax Credits for those on low incomes. Working Tax Credits top up the income of those on low pay, however, they have proved in some areas to be a hindrance to increased pay rates for employees.

The WTC was introduced in 2003, to incentivise people into work on low pay. However, research by the LSE found that it was not necessarily effective, as many potential employees wanted to work, and felt devalued in being unable to support themselves without help from the state:

“The recipients’ motivations to work were far more complex and varied than a simple response to a financial incentive. Recipients wanted by and large to work, and often felt good that they could, but sometimes the value they placed on work had little to do with money, or else the jobs they were doing failed to meet their aspirations or undermined their sense of self-worth.

“Professor Dean said: “Although the WTC scheme was generally viewed positively and most of the people we talked to were grateful for the additional income, there were still some important undercurrents of resentment. WTC does not of itself compensate for the injustices or adverse effects of a precarious and inadequately paid work. Paradoxically, hardly any of the people who took part in this research explicitly recognised that schemes like WTC are in effect a subsidy to low paying employers, but a lot of them felt devalued at work or locked in to menial jobs.”

In 2012, £14bn was spent on Working Tax Credits, as they become used more and more by employees of huge chains and not just SMEs. Supermarket chains, retail stores and other global businesses have been able to take advantage of paying below inflation minimum wages, as opposed to what they can afford, and this has contributed to a culture of large businesses relying on the state to pick up part of the bill they should be paying in wages to employees – essentially allowing the state to pay the profits of large businesses. To be more effective, the WTC should have only been offered to help smaller businesses take on employees – concentrating this help to where it is most needed, and this support should be continued where increases in the minimum wage could seriously affect SME’s.

The proposed increase could see a dramatic reduction in spending on Working Tax Credits. Further, the increase in money among the low paid will see further economic mobility, as the low paid spend much larger portions of their pay, and this re-invests into the economy creating growth, rather than those on low pay accumulating debt or being unable to afford to spend more on essentials.

Living wage campaigners have welcomed the proposed increase but remain adamant that there is much work to do to get their suggested rates of £7.65 an hour in the UK, and £8.80 in London – figures calculated on the basic cost of living in the UK.

Image: citizensuk.org

Image: citizensuk.org

Whilst this seems like a huge jump, working towards this incrementally is possible and should be a goal, because for as long as we legislate minimum wages that keep people in poverty, we are legislating poverty and maintaining a section of the population in poverty.

When the minimum wage faces any increase there is alway strong reactions from businesses in the media, and they often do talk to SMEs at this point. However, there is rarely any input or opinion from the large global traders and retailers who keep thousands on the minimum wage, and rely on the state’s help to top up pay. This culture is not one that we can afford, yet remains out of the limelight as SMEs fight the battle when the issue of a raise for the minimum wage comes up. However, it is the abuse of the minimum wage by large companies that has created reliance on the state to this extent, and to get them to pay, we need the minimum wage raised.

In truth, increasing the minimum wage will bring lots of positives to our economy. And, the question that seems to escape media attention most when it comes to this subject, is what we want to work towards in the larger scale of things. As the 7th richest country in the world, shouldn’t we be doing all we can to ensure our minimum wage is one that lifts people out of poverty and can deal with the basic cost of living? And if our current system is one that legislates in-work poverty, then maybe we need some drastic action and a re-think of what our economy should be providing.

Minimum Wage Poverty Image: unisonactive.blogspot.co.uk

Minimum Wage Poverty Image: unisonactive.blogspot.co.uke

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1. 85 richest people own nearly half the world’s wealth, say Oxfam

According to new research by the Oxfam charity, the widening wealth gap means that the 85 richest people in the world own as much wealth as the 3.5bn poorest people – half the world’s population.

The report, “Working For The Few”, highlights the growing economic inequality and it’s effect on “human progress.”

The report said:

“Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown.”

Source: Oxfam Image: The Independent

Source: Oxfam Image: The Independent

Read the report here.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

2. HSBC forced to retreat on proof policy for customers making withdrawals

HSBC sparked controversy last week as thousands of customers were refused cash withdrawals, fuelling speculation that the bank is in trouble, and another crash may be imminent.

According to a report on the BBC programme Moneybox, customers wanting to withdraw cash sums of over £1,000 were refused or asked for reasons for their withdrawal. One customer, Stephen Cotton, told the programme:

“When we presented them with the withdrawal slip, they declined to give us the money because we could not provide them with a satisfactory explanation for what the money was for. They wanted a letter from the person involved.”

Mr Cotton says the staff refused to tell him how much he could have: “So I wrote out a few slips. I said, ‘Can I have £5,000?’ They said no. I said, ‘Can I have £4,000?’ They said no. And then I wrote one out for £3,000 and they said, ‘OK, we’ll give you that.’ “

He asked if he could return later that day to withdraw another £3,000, but he was told he could not do the same thing twice in one day.”

HSBC argue that they introduced this new policy for customer security, but the customer backlash has forced the bank to withdraw their policy in a statement released this morning:

“Following feedback, we are immediately updating guidance to our customer facing staff to reiterate that it is not mandatory for customers to provide documentary evidence for large cash withdrawals.” 

Still, speculation over the future of HSBC, which has also been exposed for laundering money, assisting terrorists and having an £80bn capitalisation black hole, remains doubtful, with some warning customers to get their money out now.

3. George Osbourne announces plans to raise the minimum wage

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to raise the minimum wage to £7 an hour for the over 21s, a rate suggested by the Low Pay Commission.
Osborne said the “economy can now afford” to raise the rate, following it’s continuous fall in real terms since 2008, as inflation continues to rise. 

The current minimum wage is set at £6.31 an hour for the over 21s. For 18-20 year olds it is £5.03 and £3.72 for the under 18’s.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

4. Employment figures celebrated by coalition at PMQ’s, but mask the continuing cost of living crisis

Ahead of PMQ’s last Wednesday, the employment figures gave the coalition something to boast about. Unemployment fell from 7.4% to 7.1% – the sharpest drop since 1997, and the lowest level since 2009.
The figures were certainly positive, but were used by the coalition to sound out the continuing problems of underemployment – where people do not have enough hours, and also the problem of low pay:
 
“Average earnings are up by just 0.9 per cent (as people price themselves into work), leaving them 1.1 per cent below inflation. Those Tories who proclaimed the end of the “cost-of-living crisis” when inflation fell to the Bank’s target rate of 2 per cent have been left looking predictably foolish. After five years of declining real wages, there is still no end in sight to the longest fall in living standards since 1870. So long as that remains the case, Cameron will still struggle to rebut Ed Miliband’s attack lines.”
by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

Despite an outward stress on the necessity of work, the coalition government have helped to garner an employment landscape of insecurity, poverty and low worth. Welfare policy and employment laws changed over the last two years have been crucial in creating a power imbalance in favour of employers, ultimately damaging employee worth, status and work life.

At the beginning of this year, David Cameron announced plans to make it easier for employers to fire workers. By increasing the length of service from one year to two before a hearing can be called following dismissal, and by reducing the sick pay, redundancy pay and compensation amounts employees can claim for, Cameron said that these relaxations in employment laws would make companies see less risk in hiring more people, and this would also ‘get rid of the bad’ to let in the skilled employees.

David-Cameron1

However, allowing employers to fire employees more easily by cutting red tape does not solve the problem of a lack of jobs. Further, the report that David Cameron commissioned from Adrian Beecroft in support of law relaxation was admittedly based on a ‘hunch’ rather than economic proof or explanation:

“Quantifying the loss of jobs arising from the burden of regulation, and the economic value of those jobs, is an impossible task…How many more businesses would there be, how many people would they employ, how many more people would existing businesses employ, how profitable would all these businesses be? Who knows?”

Yet, Cameron pressed to apply these measures, insisting that America had relaxed it’s laws and seen a drop in unemployment. But, while the US remained relatively stagnant in it’s position, Germany halved it’s unemployment figures whilst maintaining much stronger laws and regulations for employers.

Whilst Cameron was forced to retreat on these plans by deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the subject has surfaced again a few times, with support from Vince Cable and some Tory Ministers. Still, changes to laws like this during a fragile recovery will only cause anxiety for workers who feel the threat of losing their jobs on top of the hardship of the current climate. It also assumes the employer acts in employee interests which has been disproven time and time again, says lawyer Edward Cooper:

“An underlying assumption in these proposals is that employers all act reasonably. We see day in and day out that employers do not always act reasonably, especially when there is money to be saved.”

Edward Cooper, Channel 4, 2012

Despite these proposals being put on the back burner, changes to employment tribunal fees were passed in July this year, meaning that employees seeking justice, investigation, hearing or tribunal would now have to pay to have their case heard. Again, at a time of fragility for the market, this put employees on the back foot should they be treated unfairly by their employer.

Under the new rules, it would cost £160-250 to lodge a claim and a further £230-950 if the claim goes to court, which is usually the case with claims such as unfair dismissal or discrimination. The Ministry of Justice also charge £1200 for a full hearing if people want to challenge the decision of an employment tribunal.

Government have said that these fees were brought in to encourage ‘mediation’ and negotiation without the Courts, in the hope more cases could be settled outside the legal system.

However, these fees are attacks on the employee’s rights alone, and only make it harder for employees to fight companies who often already have the upper hand. The fees give companies more leeway to treat employees unfairly, in the hope they cannot afford to bring them to justice. For some grievances, the cost is more than the money an employee feels they are owed, but could count highly as a case for morality or discrimination and be important in ensuring a company is reprimanded for treating someone unfairly.

Despite the fees now existing, trade union Unison has won the right to take the case to judicial review, in the hope the fees will be lifted. Unison, with the support of the Human Rights Commission, argue that the fees make it impossible for workers to exercise their rights. The Ministry of Justice have vowed to refund all fees should Unison win the case.

Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary said the fees “give the green light to unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over already basic workers’ rights.”

The hearing continues.

As well as these changes to laws, the government have implemented their own damaging schemes, which are currently taking their toll on the employment market. Welfare-to-work schemes which incorporate workfare policies are forcibly sending unemployed people to work for 30-60 hours a week for their unemployment benefit or they risk sanctions or withdrawal of benefits.

Minster for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith insisted these policies were designed to allow people to gain work experience to secure future employment. However, the schemes have just widened the already burgeoning ‘work experience’ and ‘intern’ industry which already operates cruelly in the fashion, media and music world and employs an entire workforce of free labour for the same, often unlikely, chance of employment at the end.

Whilst gaining months of free work experience was once expected if you wanted to get into a much sought after industry, now workfare policies insist they are required for minimum wage jobs stacking shelves. As the interns of the music and media industries are trying to gather to gain some rights and protection against being exploited by companies and employers, the welfare-to-work programmes are normalising work experience for the low paid.  Entry level jobs are beginning to carry work experience criteria, and the free workforce donated by the government rotates to feed a steady supply of workers to companies. This sort of policy replaces paid jobs with free labour. It devalues work and treats workers as commodities. It creates higher barriers to work by insisting on months of free work for minimum wage jobs.

Image: legal-aware.org

Image: legal-aware.org

Thus workers are desperate, and employers are often only happy to exploit this, as we have seen in the prevalence of the zero hour contract. Sports direct used these contracts for over 90% of staff. They offered no holiday or sick pay, and did not have to guarantee any hours. To ensure employees would take home money, they would have to take any hours the employer asked of them, at whatever short notice. Giselle Cory of the Resolution Foundation said in an interview with RealFare earlier this year, that these contracts were also found to be used as management tools, to punish employees if they did not take on work when and as the employer demanded:

“But what we see actually, is that these contracts are being used to disempower the employee. We’ve seen evidence of really bad management practice where someone is on a zero hour contract, their boss says ‘I want you to work Saturday.’ They might say ‘I can’t’ or ‘I can’t get childcare’ for example, or ‘I would simply rather not’, and they are zeroed down, which is effectively where they’re pushed to very few or no hours in the medium or longer term. So that’s in effect, using these contracts as a management tool, when that’s not what they’re intended for and that’s a great imbalance of power between the employer and the employee.”

Giselle Cory, Resolution Foundation

And with the rise of these contracts we also see the worst rates of underemployment on record, with 1.46m people in part time work in need of more hours. Thousands of people are desperate for work and so many take on any contract and terms they can. This is at the expense of their rights and their home life as work may demand availability at any time. Many are at the mercy of employers to work at short notice and so sacrifice plans, commitments, family time for minimum wage jobs that offer them no security or help should they fall ill or need time off. The imbalance is clear.

And the government’s moves have made it easier to exploit employees, and treat them as disposable. The priorities have not been to make a secure employment landscape for people in the recovery but to allow employers to use and abuse at will. Whilst the government and media rhetoric has made it shameful not to work, employers are made to feel no shame for making workers poor on time, worth and money.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

Corporate benefits is a feature which aims to cast light on how big businesses and companies receive benefits and gain profit from welfare policy. Whilst the media have been quick to name and shame the benefit cheats that make up 0.7% of all claimants, they have been quiet on the ways in which corporations profit handsomely from our ‘bloated’ welfare system.

In the last article, we spoke about Workfare – a series of schemes set up by government which hand companies a free workforce, paid unfairly (and unlawfully when referring to laws on the minimum wage) at a cost to the taxpayer and other workers.

This time, we look at Working Tax Credits.

Image: taxcredits.net

Image: taxcredits.net

Working Tax Credits are a means tested benefit for those on low incomes. Essentially, they top up low pay. Working Tax Credits were introduced in the UK in 2003, as a way of encouraging people to take on low paid work. Last year, £14bn was spent on such credits, and as the government pull back welfare spending in all other areas, the solution to saving money here is rarely tackled.

Despite the Working Tax Credit being a huge help to those on low income, it does not address the subject of low pay. And far from the credit being used to help top up the pay of employees of small companies and start up businesses, it now subsidises the pay of employees from huge corporate conglomerates who’s profits are in the billions.

Huge supermarket chains, clothes stores and other companies now have thousands of employees who claim Working Tax Credits. This calls into question the helpfulness of the policy, as what seems to be materialising is a culture of low pay amongst large companies who are aware that the state will pick up the bill.

Whilst the introduction of the minimum wage was meant to protect against the low pay issue, the wage has not increased in line with inflation for years and is running behind at a rate of 10-12%. Thus, the minimum wage is not performing the action of a minimum standard of living. This is why we have recently seen the Living Wage being pressed for in news and media.

Image: citizensuk.org

Image: citizensuk.org

The Living Wage is a rate set according to the basic cost of living in the UK and it recently rose to £7.65 per hour in the UK and £8.80 in London. Companies may take on the Living Wage on a voluntary basis, but as the gap between the minimum wage, inflation and the cost of living increases, the need for the Living Wage is becoming ever more important to those on low pay.

Ed Miliband recently promised a temporary tax break to companies who begin using the Living Wage, if Labour are elected in 2015, and while the momentum for this pay is increasing and positive, legislation is the real power that can change the conditions of all on low pay.

Working Tax Credits, whilst seemingly helping out the low paid worker, is allowing companies – who can afford to pay a living wage – the ability to underpay employees with the knowledge that the welfare system is at hand, and for these companies the tax credit is subsidising profit and avoiding the issue of low pay. Working Tax Credits should only be awarded to those working for small businesses who are trying to grow, as a support to both the worker and the business, if used at all.

Around 20% of welfare spending goes to in-work tax credits, and if the government are serious about cutting welfare spending then it is about time they asked large companies to pay fairly for staff, and put an end to a culture where companies reap the benefits and profits from low paid employees and our welfare system.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1)   Miliband promises tax breaks for companies that pay the living wage

Following the publication of a KPMG report that showed there were 5.2 million people earning below the living wage in the UK, Ed Miliband has vowed to introduce a new contract that gives companies tax breaks for up to twelve months for paying the living wage to employees.

The number of people on less than the living wage has gone up by 400,000 in the last year from 4.8 million to 5.2 million. And it has increased by 1.8 million over the last five years. Miliband is expected to say; “We’ve now got to the point where more of the people bringing up families in poverty are in work than out of work’ and warn the Britain risks an “era of growth without prosperity.”

Image: Belfast Telegraph

Image: Belfast Telegraph

Companies could be given tax breaks ranging between £445 and £1000 for employing someone on the living wage. The news is welcomed by some as a way of tackling the low pay problems which are exacerbated by the below inflation increases of the minimum wage over the last few years, ultimately meaning that for some, full time work on the minimum wage can still mean poverty, despite the coalition promises to ‘make work pay.’

Although this is a step in the right direction for a problem that needs to be addressed, legislation of the living wage as a requirement would be the greatest help for the low pay crisis.

 Read more about this story here.

2) Victory for campaigners, as bedroom tax rules changed to make disabled children exempt

The government has amended its ‘under occupancy policy’ to make disabled children who cannot share a room exempt from the penalty.

The change comes following a battle from five families who challenged the Secretary of State over their need for bedrooms for their children. The court ruled in favour of the families in July, and the government has finally changed legislation to reflect this.

Image: The Mirror

Image: The Mirror

When the bedroom tax was brought in David Cameron promised that it would not affect certain families and individuals, including those with disabled children, however this was not true and thousands of families across the country caring for disabled children have been hit with the ‘bedroom tax.’ This victory will come as relief for them.

The mother of one of the clamants said:

“I am relieved that at last the position for families like mine is clear and that following the court’s decision in July the government have finally changed the rules which would have had such a terrible effect on families like mine. My son needs his own bedroom because of his serious health problems. Without that bedroom, we were told he would have to go into residential care. I m sure that everyone can understand what heartbreak such a situation would cause any mother. We have been very disappointed by the way that the government have behaved throughout our case, but delighted that at last the position is clear. We will continue with our appeal, because at the moment the government has an order for legal costs against us, which seems ridiculous to me, given that we won our case and that the rules have now been changed as a result. However, we are so happy that the real battle is over.”

Read more about this story here. 

3)   Leading doctors warn of ‘worst winter’ crisis for NHS hospitals

Leading  accident and emergency doctors have warned that this could be the ‘worst winter crisis’ for the NHS, as the number of wait times of over four hours in hospitals have increased by 43% in the last two years.

Doctors say that this winter is already shaping up to be worse than last year’s and this will put a huge strain on the health service’s resources in the coming months.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham accused ministers of ‘leaving the NHS on the brink of its most dangerous winter in years’ and slammed the government for not heeding previous warnings.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

Mark Porter, leader of the British Medical Association called for a halt to the fall in NHS bed numbers and a re-think of the £30bn NHS ‘efficiency drive’, commenting, “We have all the symptoms of a system under pressure, that’s what these figures show. While we have this it would be foolish to pursue a policy of still constraining resources in the acute sector.”

Read more about this story here.

4) Day of civil disobedience and the bonfire of austerity approaches

Tuesday the 5th of November is fast approaching and marks what is hoped to be a huge protest against the austerity measures of the coalition government.

The People’s Assembly have a list of all the events taking place on their website. It is hoped that the day will see protests in every town and city in the country. Action is planned in the morning, afternoon and evening, and planned bonfires are expected to contain threatening eviction and debt collection letters caused by the harsh welfare reforms and budget cuts.

The Million Mask March is also taking place tomorrow night along with around 400 locations worldwide.

Read more about this story here.

 

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) Half of families hit by ‘bedroom tax’ now in debt

The bedroom tax has pushed more than half of those affected by it into debt, in the first three months since its launch.

The National Housing Federation (NHF) reported that in a survey of 51 of it’s biggest housing association members, more than half of tenants affected could not pay their rent between April and June.

The findings come after UN Special Rapporteur Raquel Rolnik was caught in a row with Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps over the spare room subsidy. Rolnik put out a press release last week asking the government to suspend the levy after her investigation into housing found that it may be in breach of human rights. Shapps hit back at Rolnik claiming that she had not spoken to the appropriate officials, and even wrote to the UN to complain.

The findings of the NHF will now come as a blow to Shapps and the government.

NHF Chairman, David Orr will now follow Rolnik’s argument. He is expected to say: “Housing associations are working flat-out to help their tenants cope with the changes, but they can’t magic one-bedroom houses out of thin air. People are trapped. What more proof do politicians need that the bedroom tax is an unfair, ill-planned disaster that is hurting our poorest families? There is no other option but to repeal.”

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

Read more about this story here.

2) Labour announce policies, including scrapping of ‘bedroom tax’ and sacking of ATOS

Labour have announced that they will scrap the ‘bedroom tax’ and sack French healthcare group, ATOS who provide the fit-to-work tests, should the party win the next general election.

Other policies include strengthening the offence laws on disability hate crime, which are thought to have risen in part due to the “benefit scrounger” rhetoric pushed by government and media. Ed Miliband has also promised to strengthen the minimum wage.

The Labour Party Conference was held on Sunday, in Brighton. For many campaigners, the news that Labour will take strong action against the mis-handlings of the benefits system, pay, fit-to-work tests and ‘bedroom tax’ comes as a relief. However, many believe there is more to do to ensure that Labour lives out it’s promises and does away with faulty social policy systems.

Read more about this story here. 

3) Homeless hit harder by welfare cuts, says research

According to research carried out by the charity Homeless Link, the increased punitive measures used against jobseekers are hitting the homeless harder than other groups.

Image: towntalk.co.uk

Image: towntalk.co.uk

Research covering more than 50 organisations show that around a third of homeless people have been sanctioned compared to 3% of other jobseekers. With homeless people often battling a number of obstacles including mental health issues, learning disabilities and substance abuse, the sanctions pose a further threat to their wellbeing, instead of motivating them (as the sanctions were meant to, according to the coalition).

Chief Executive of Homeless Link, Rick Henderson said: “Claimants do have responsibilities but it is clear that sanctions may be forcing them deeper into the problems that led them into homelessness in the first place. We’re calling on the Government to ensure the conditions for receiving benefits take into account individual circumstances.”

Read more about this story here.

4) In-Work poverty exceeds out of work poverty in Wales

Around 700,000 people live in poverty in Wales, equating to a quarter of the population. 51% of working age adults and children in poverty are in working families, according to new research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – outnumbering those out of work and in poverty.

The report reveals the pressures put on families and wages, and calls on government to deal with low pay and working conditions, as well as welfare reform.

“Peter Kenway, Director at NPI, said: “This report shows there are not enough jobs, not enough hours and not enough pay for people in Wales. These are families who are going out to work but still have so little they are living below the poverty line and struggling to make ends meet. Low pay and low hours go hand in hand: job creation is a priority, but this must lead to better pay and more hours to tackle in-work poverty.”

Image: The Huffington Post

Image: The Huffington Post

Read the press release and report here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass