Two reports in the Guardian at the weekend demonstrated the difficulties facing those in low paid, insecure work, with many employers exploiting zero hours on one side and the Department of Work and Pensions threatening benefit sanctions against those considered to be not working enough on the other. The DWP is intending to push those people in work whom they class as “not working enough” to do more. Those in receipt of Universal Credit and earning between £330 and £950 per month, “could be mandated to attend jobcentre meetings where their working habits will be examined as part of the universal credit programme.” Benefit sanctions would be applied to those categorised as not working enough and failing to do more to increase their income.
Furthermore, according to a report by the trade union, Unite, also reported by the Guardian, up to 5.5m people in Britain could be on contracts that promise less than 3 hours of work per week, 5 times the previous estimate published by the Guardian in August. Employers using zero-hours contracts have said that many people enjoy the flexibility such an arrangement gives them, however, when the Unite members surveyed were asked whether they would like to remain on them, only 13% said that they would.
Threatening benefit sanctions for those already struggling to get enough paid work to live on, when decent, secure jobs are thin on the ground demonstrates a government that is “out of touch” said Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne.