Tuesday, 22 January 2013

All Part Time Workers are busy Pursuing Hobbies....

... says Mark Hoban alongside his good friend Lord Freud in a speech detailing what the Government propose for Part Time Workers who claim Tax Credits under the dreaded forthcoming Universal Credit - set to be rolled out (IT System dependent) in October 2013.

Mark Hoban states in the Guardian article by Patrick Wintour on 21 January 2013: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/21/universal-credit-benefits-work-longer

..."new demands could also be placed on the self-employed, pointing out that the tax credit system as it stands allowed people to pursue hobbies, earn nothing and subsidise their income through state support "without any expectation that they will increase their earnings and move towards self-sufficiency. This flies in the face of a principled welfare system".

We have become used to the daily beatings of the unemployed, sick, disabled in the media by the Government in many guises - but the new section of society  to beat are now the Part Time Workers both Employed and Self Employed - with and without children to care for.

The premise by Mark Hoban and Lord Freud is that the stick to beat us will be text messages sent to encourage us to increase our Working Hours, alongside monthly reports to the Job Centre to "prove" our income and "prove" we are desparately trying to increase both our hours worked and income gained. Can't do it and our Universal Credit will be cut at will. We are all one step away from turning up at our local Foodbank.

For the Self Employed we have been told under Universal Credit, if the Job Centre Advisor does not think we have been active enough in both increasing hours and income our Tax Credits can be stopped and we can be forced to move from Self Employment to Job Seekers Allowance and forced to get paid employment. Also there is the premise all Self Employed MUST be making minimum wage in their Self Employment or their job is not viable and the Job Centre will find us paid employment.

This effects me. I am a Part Time Self Employed Avon Rep (although as Carer for my son I am supposedly exempt from increasing my hours worked) I do not earn minimum wage as I get paid commission every 3 weeks. In order to earn roughly £80-£100 I have to take £500 in sales. In the winter/early spring we are lucky to make £50 in commission. People have no money in their pockets so luxuries like make up, jewellery are the first out of the window. But I enjoy meeting my customers: many are elderly and housebound and I maybe the only person they see in a day so they like to chat when I come round. I also check on their welfare, especially in the winter. My choice, but I am doing my part in the "Big Society" David Cameron is so fond of bigging up.

My husband is a DJ and an ECB Level 2 Cricket Coach for our junior regional side. He works about 25 hours a week. As a DJ his rate of pay has not increased since 2002, the venues are getting fewer due to pubs/clubs closing (will talk more about the No Smoking Ban and Pubs in later blogs) and due to the rural locality of N Wales his cricket coaching just covers expenses - not a lot more. He is needed at home to help care for our autistic son and for the tasks that equate with having 4 sons on top of work.

So I found Mark Hoban's speech particularly insulting, as neither of us "pursues hobbies" courtesy of the state, and although our income is low paid we do not "earn nothing". Perhaps Mr Hoban would like to shadow a family who work Part Time and are in paid employment where hours are unable to be increased, however much they ask as there simply is not the work available.

Come and visit rural, coastal North Wales Mr Hoban. Count the number of Part Time Jobs available in the area, then count the number advertised as Full Time. It won't take you long. What there is available is mostly Part Time, Temporary and Seasonal. Secure Employment in North Wales is a myth, a fairytale story we will pass on to our children one day in the guise of "I remember your Grandad who worked at the coal mine for over 40 years...." This has gone and will not return.

People in this area often have to travel to Chester, Liverpool and Manchester for work - a lot of expense and none of us expect to work on our doorstep, but with the cost of fuel and travel, taking work 25+ miles away has to be factored into the income you receive from that work.

The Part Time Low Paid used to be (to use the hated word) Cameron's "Strivers" - people who manage to get by but also take pride in their work. Now we too are being demonised as "Scroungers" - somehow Mr Hoban would like to see our Full Time Working Neighbour being pitted against us, so we also suffer as being "lazy" "feckless" for as John Redwood said in the Welfare Uprating Debate 21 January "People are CHOOSING to work Part Time". Owen Jones has spoken passionately about how the Government and media are pitting neighbour against neighbour, unemployed v employed, curtains drawn, v curtains open and now Full Time Worker v Part Time Worker. Do not fall for Government and media rhetoric. It is designed to divide society. It is designed to threaten and intimidate. It is quite simply the divisive language of what I call the "Gutter Rich". They may have the power, they may have the money, but their talk and feelings towards their fellow human beings belongs in the Gutter.

All this from a bunch of Government MPs, Lords and advisors who have no idea what is going on in Austerity UK. Enough from me... youngest son is asking his dad to drive him to his Drama Class - let me pause while I "pursue this hobby" of  getting an autistic child ready and into the car.....