Here, for example, is an extract from Cameron’s speech designed to introduce the help-to-work scheme that aims to force the unemployed into unpaid labour or attend a job centre five days each week.
“A key part of our long-term economic plan is to move to full employment, making sure that everyone who can work is in work.
“We are seeing record levels of employment in Britain, as more and more people find a job, but we need to look at those who are persistently stuck on benefits.
“This scheme will provide more help than ever before, getting people into work and on the road to a more secure future.”
And here is Leeds NW’s Lib Dem MP, Greg Mulholland, writing on his website in December 2013:
“30 million people in work is another huge success on the road to recovery.
“This recovery could not have happened without the work of the Liberal Democrats.
“This recovery has only been possible because we’re sticking to a sound economic plan in addition to the hard work of the British people and of British business.”
‘Stronger Economy, Fairer Society’ – that’s the LibDem boast.
For example on May 7 2014, days after Cameron’s Essex speech, we reported that research undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the extent to which zero-hours contracts have become common in the United Kingdom. The ONS showed that based on their own survey of 5,000 businesses in January to February 2014, “…. there were around 1.4 million employee contracts that do not guarantee a minimum number of hours, which provided work in the survey reference period of the fortnight beginning 20 January 2014.”
Since then the Resolution Foundation has published its damning research into the nature of self-employment in the UK, ‘Just the Job or a Working Compromise? The changing nature of self-employment.’
In what follows we will present the Resolution Foundation’s findings.
Nearly 4.5 people in Britain may be classed as self-employed, that is about 15% of all employment. The variety of self-employment is vast. It ranges from the casual gardener cutting a few lawns in the summer months, through the care home assistant forced to treat him/herself as self-employed by the care home company. It includes the person running a local IT store – and Richard Branson!
The growth in the number of the self-employed is remarkable. Since the recession in 2008, 650,000 additional people have declared themselves as self-employed.
Good news? Not really.
In their analysis of national datasets and a new survey of just under 1,000 self-employed people the Resolution Foundation looked at how self-employed people are faring financially. This is what the analysis showed:
1. self-employed weekly earnings are 20 per cent lower than they were in 2006-07, while employee earnings have fallen by just 6 per cent;
2. this drop has been seen across genders and industries but is particularly notable among people of prime earning age (35 to 50 years old) whose earnings are 26 per cent lower;
3. as a result, the typical self-employed person now earns 40 per cent less than the typical employed person;
4. only 30 per cent of self-employed people are contributing to a pension, compared to 51 per cent of employees.
The Foundation’s survey also indicates that a minority of self-employed people are experiencing difficulties getting mortgages, tenancies and accessing personal credit and loans, specifically due to being self-employed.
If the Foundation’s report is reliable, and no-one including the LibDem/Tory Coalition government has criticised or refuted it, then the findings have very serious consequences. Here is how the Foundation sums them up:
“If high levels of self-employment are set to be a permanent feature, it is crucial that this 15 per cent of the workforce are able to access basics such as housing and credit and have sufficient pensions and savings. Our analysis suggests that for too many self-employed people, these essentials are proving difficult to access with many looking to be poorly positioned to cope with unexpected financial demands and retirement. Reform of the mortgage market, the pensions system and the introduction of Universal Credit should take into account the needs of this ever-larger group.”
How has this affected Yorkshire and the Humber?
Since the recession employment in the north of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has fared worse than London and the South East. According to the ONS, Workforce survey:
Yorkshire and the Humber has lost 64,000 employee jobs and gained 37,000 self-employed making a total loss of 27,000 people in employment.
London has gained 285,000 and gained 85,000 self-employed making a total gain of 370,000 people in employment. This is more than the population of the City of Wakefield!
Nothing to crow about.
Yet earlier this year, Nick Clegg – the leader of the Lib Dems – crowed:
“This Government has worked hard to repair and rebalance the economy, helping to create nearly 1.7 million new private sector jobs since the election, strengthening Britain’s economy and building a fairer society.”
The Deputy PM omits to mention the fact that hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their jobs in the public sector.
But, even leaving this aside, we do not think that he ought to crow about the fact there are now 1.4 million people employed on zero-hours contracts
-and a further 650,000 self-employed -but not really self-employed.
And yes, Mr Mulholland is right, “ …. this could not have happened without the work of the Liberal Democrats.”
There’s some ‘work’ we can do without.
Britain Can Be Better Than This
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