Millions to lose £52 a week with Universal Credit, report shows

From The Observer: A comprehensive analysis of the impact of Universal Credit, compiled by the Policy in Practice consultancy, found that almost two in five households in receipt of benefits would lose an average of £52 a week.

While Universal Credit has already been rolled out in some areas for new claims, a crunch is due to come next year when millions are moved from the current system to the new programme, which rolls several benefits into a single payment.

Some 2.8 million homes would see their income cut under the Universal Credit system, according to the analysis.

According to the research, a million homeowners currently receiving tax credits will be worse off under the new system. They will lose an average of £43 a week.

Researchers found that 600,000 working single parents receiving the current tax credits system will be worse off, losing £16 a week on average. About 750,000 households on disability benefits will be worse off. Their average loss is £76 a week.

The self-employed lose out under rules in Universal Credit that assume a minimum income from self-employment, usually £1,187 a month. It means that 600,000 self-employed people will be worse off.

Under the tax credits system, payments are made for more than two children if they were born before 6 April 2017. As a result, 300,000 families will be worse off, losing an average of £40 a week each.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Private water company bosses have pocketed £175 million in last 5 years

From Morning Star: Bosses of England’s nine private water companies have pocketed £175 million in pay and benefits in the last five years, general union GMB disclosed today.

GMB, which has thousands of members working in the water industry, revealed the pay packages as part of its “Take Back the Tap” campaign, calling for the water industry to be returned to public ownership.

Since water privatisation in 1989, customers’ bills have increased by 40 per cent in real terms.

The union says the industry’s top 54 executives pocketed an enormous £40.3 million in 2017 alone. Executive directors and senior management received an average of £746,296 each in salaries, pension contributions, bonuses and benefits.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

CBI cuts forecast for UK economic growth

From The Guardian: Britain’s leading employers’ organisation, the Confederation of British Industry, has warned the UK economy will shift down a gear this year and risks remaining in the slow lane.

Cutting its growth forecasts for the year, owing to heavy snowfall in the opening months of 2018 and lingering fears over Brexit, the CBI said it expected the growth rate for the British economy to slow to 1.4%, from 1.8% last year.

The rate of GDP growth is then forecast to fall further still, to 1.3% next year, as the UK leaves the EU.

The downgrade comes as business groups become increasingly worried about the lack of progress being made by ministers in talks with Brussels, amid divisions between senior cabinet members. Business leaders fear there will be little progress made before parliament breaks for its summer recess next month.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

UK economy posts worst quarterly GDP figures for five years

From The Guardian: The weakest household spending for three years and falling levels of business investment dragged the economy to the worst quarter for five years, official statisticians have said.

The Office for National Statistics confirmed its previous estimate that GDP growth slumped to 0.1% in the first quarter, while sticking to its view that the “beast from the east” had little impact.

The latest figures will further stoke concerns over the strength of the UK economy, amid increasing signals for deteriorating growth as Britain prepares to leave the EU next year. Some economists, including officials at the Bank of England, thought the growth rate would be revised higher as more data became available.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

One in 12 young people are working in zero-hours jobs

From Morning Star: Zero-hours contracts have risen to nearly two million in Britain, with one in 12 young people working uncertain hours.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the figures, published today, increased from 1.7m to 1.8m in the year to last November and represents 6 per cent of all contracts.

Of these, the ONS has reported, 901,000 workers are on zero-hours contracts as some are forced to work more than one.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Most people are not on zero-hours contracts by choice. They want the same rights, security and guaranteed hours as other employees.

“More than half of zero-hours contract workers have had jobs cancelled with less than a day’s notice. Zero-hours contracts are a licence to treat people like disposable labour and the government should ban them.”

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Number of zero-hours contracts in UK rose by 100,000 in 2017 – ONS

From The Guardian: The number of zero-hours contracts in use across the UK rose by about 100,000 last year, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics, said the number of employment contracts without a minimum number of guaranteed hours increased to 1.8m in the year to November, up from 1.7m in 2016.

People on zero hours contracts are more likely to be young, women, students or those in part-time employment. Although some like the potential flexibility, about a quarter of people want to work more hours, compared with only 7.3% of people in other forms of employment.

A survey from the TUC found more than half of workers on zero-hours contracts have had shifts cancelled less than 24 hours before they were due to begin.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Plot by Tory ministers could slash paid holidays for 7 million workers, says TUC

From the TUC: A plot by #Tory ministers to scrap the Working Time Directive in the UK reported today could deny paid holidays to millions of workers, and make long working weeks the norm, the TUC has said.

The Sunday Times and Sun both report plans by ministers – including Michael Gove and Boris Johnson – to scrap the Working Time Directive after Brexit.

Losing the protections of the directive means that:

  • 7 million workers could lose rights to paid holidays – 4.7 million of them women, and many on zero-hours or part-time contracts.
  • Even more workers could be forced by bosses to work weeks longer than 48 hours.
  • Workers could lose the right to lunch and rest breaks.
  • Night workers could lose some health and safety protections.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This is a straight-up attack on our rights at work. Millions could lose their paid holidays, and be forced to work ridiculously long hours.

Read more

Inflation rises to 3.1%, adding to UK cost of living squeeze

From The Guardian: The government has admitted households are feeling the pain from rising inflation after the cost of living rose to a near six-year high of 3.1% in November.

The annual inflation rate has more than doubled from 1.2% to 3.1% in the past year – its highest level since March 2012.

Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, said: “Christmas dinner is going to be a lot more expensive this year. Food prices have gone up at twice the rate of wages.

“The government is failing to deal with Britain’s cost of living crisis. Working people need a pay rise. They shouldn’t have to worry about putting the turkey on the table.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

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