Low pay in Britain is scandalous, and it has got considerably lower since 2010. Low pay is conventionally defined as the number of workers paid less than the Living Wage of £7.45 per hour outside London and £8.80 in London, and on that basis workers on low pay have increased by almost 2 millions since the last election. In 2010 there were 3.4 million paid below that level, and now it is 5.2 million, which represents 1 in 5 of all workers and 1 in 3 of all women at work.
But what makes matters a lot worse is that these very low rates of pay are not linked to a moving upper threshold, and are therefore stuck at the bottom of the wage pyramid until raised by some minuscule amount in an opaque administrative process influenced by the CBI. Thus it is proposed to increase the minimum wage later this year from £6.31 an hour to £6.50. Another major flaw in this current system is that, even if it is raised by these tiny amounts, many employers simply ignore it and there is a wholly inadequate number of wages inspectors to enforce it and derisory penalties imposed even in the rare cases where employers are booked. Continue reading
They call it a recovery. The OECD has raised its forecast of UK economic growth from 0.8% to 1.5%. This follows on from the British Chambers of Commerce who’ve floated a similar figure. While economics wonks are muttering “caveats, caveats” the Daily Express have had no hesitation proclaiming “Britain’s economic recovery is now in overdrive“.
Resting arguments on evidence might be out of sorts when it comes to punditry, but as someone who thinks commentary should fit the facts and not the other way round it would be dumb to deny the numbers are, handily, falling like pennies from heaven for our clueless, beleaguered chancellor. Befitting their stupid epithet, the Conservative Party will hail this from now until election day as proof their economic policy works. The small matter of three wasted, stagnant years falls down the memory hole every time positive economic news is broadcast. Continue reading
Pay cuts may drive short term profits and help governments balance the books — but they do nothing for social justice and also damage the economy. Here’s why:
Yesterday, at Unison Scotland, we launched a report on the impact of real wage cuts on workers and the economy. It contrasts the increasing wealth of the richest with the “triple whammy” of frozen pay, inflation and tax and benefit changes affecting ordinary families. Continue reading
Ian Duncan Smith (IDS), fresh from supporting corrupt and ineffective welfare-to-work companies like A4E, chopping disability living alowance and incapacity benefit for up to a million disabled persons, extending unpaid mandatory work schemes, and forcing 100,000 families out of their homes through cuts in housing benefit – all part of the government’s overall plan to cut benefits by £18bn while the ultra-rich have gained £155bn over the last 3 years but pay little or no tax – is now set to axe strikers’ benefits. Continue reading
By a striking coincidence turkey-fattening season in the City, otherwise known as bonus time, happens to be rolled out at the same time as the rest of the population is being told that the pay freeze, after last year’s big 4.2% drop in real wages, is now expected to last till 2020.
However, for the City’s 1200 ‘code staff’, i.e. those ‘responsible for taking and managing risks’, it’s not all gloom. They’ll be getting on average £1.8m this year, 78 times the average wage. Continue reading