Families on low incomes are once again bearing the brunt of a tough economic environment. Over the past decade, rising costs of items such as food, energy and childcare, combined with stagnating wages and cuts in benefits, have repeatedly put a squeeze on family budgets. Between 2014 and 2016, some of these pressures eased, as […]
A minimum income standard has been defended by the highest court in the land
The Supreme Court’s landmark judgement abolishing fees for employment tribunals has been rightly hailed for its championing of access to justice for workers, in the context of labour laws having tilted the scales increasingly against them in recent years. It also has much wider implications, including the linking in the judgement of powerlessness at work […]
Losing on the swings and losing on the roundabouts
The past five years have seen ups and downs for wage earners, in terms of average pay keeping up with inflation. After dipping in the recession, real pay started to rise again in 2014. The main beneficiaries were private sector workers, although when inflation hit zero even those affected by the 1% public sector pay […]
Budget comment by Professor Donald Hirsch, Centre for Research in Social Policy, Loughborough University
Cuts in welfare were at the heart of the then Chancellor’s agenda coming into the present Parliament; two years later, not a single new measure affecting benefits was announced in this Budget. Any new welfare savings have been formally ruled out in this Parliament, with the proviso that if spending breaks a new cap, further […]
An autumn statement that only just about managed to distribute some jam
Both the tone and content of Philip Hammond’s first budgetary statement belied the mood music of the past few weeks: that Theresa May’s government will do much more to help just about managing families – dubbed the “JAMs”. It continued in a modest way some policies of its predecessor: freezing fuel duty; promising more social […]
Is a compulsory “real” living wage really a good idea?
British political attitudes to compulsory minimum wages have undergone an astounding transformation. A generation ago, any sort of minimum was viewed with suspicion not just by free-market economists but also by many in the labour movement. The former argued that unaffordable wages would cost jobs. The latter knew that negotiation through collective bargaining had a […]
Will low income families’ ability to afford the necessities of life stop declining?
The mood music on welfare cuts may finally be changing. The new Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green has explicitly sought to distance himself from the stance of the past six years by stating that there ‘will be no new search for cuts in individual welfare benefits’. The cuts of the past few years have […]
Bringing up a family on a low income involves chances and choices
Campaigners seeking to draw attention to the worst effects of hard times on family poverty rightly cite the growing use of food banks to illustrate severe deprivation in the UK. But while about 200,000 children were in families using foodbanks last year, about 30 times this number – six million children – were on low […]
It’s tough down south – Is it time to revive London weighting?
When I started my working life in London in the 1980s, there was some concept that London Weighting was a standard entitlement at a standard level that broadly reflected the additional cost of living in the capital city. Today, it’s become a patchy entitlement at all sorts of levels, but generally not coming close to […]
The new National Living Wage marks a turning point in policy for low income working families
Today (1 April) sees the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW): a compulsory £7.20 an hour for over-25s. Some see this as little more than a clever piece of branding by George Osborne a supplement to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), initially set at 50p an hour. Its level today falls well short of […]