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Working isn’t working for the poor, survey finds

12 August 2016

SOUTH LIVERPOOL FOODBANK

HUNDREDS of thousands of workers do not have enough money to buy food during the week, a survey commissioned by the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger, Frank Field, suggests.

Last month, Ipsos MORI interviewed 900 British adults in their homes, asking how often they and their household did not have enough money to buy food. The answer was every week for three per cent of respondents, and every few months for seven per cent. Those on zero-hours contracts appeared to be worst-affected.

“Britain is not the only country to have been battered by the economic headwinds which are eroding working-class wage packets,” Mr Field said on Monday. “But we do now have a clear picture of the damage those headwinds have wreaked on workers’ living standards in this country. Hundreds of thousands of Britons every week are working for their hunger. If Mrs May needed any more reasons to build an economy that works for all of us, and not just a privileged few at the top, she will find them in these results.”

Mr Field is seeking a review of the regulations on zero-hours contracts; an improvement in the administration of tax credits, so that low-paid workers are not left without money following a change of circumstances; and a new deal on prepayment meters for gas and electricity, to eliminate the premium pay by poorer households. He is also urging the Prime Minister to initiate an inquiry into the wages and conditions associated with self-employment in low-paying industries, starting with the courier industry.

More than 800,000 people are employed on zero-hours contracts in their main employment, the Labour Force Survey reports. About one in three want more hours. Research by the Trades Union Congress suggests that 39 per cent of zero-hours workers earn less than £111 a week — the qualifying threshold for statutory sick pay — compared with eight per cent of permanent employees.

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