Quality, Lasting Jobs Needed to Tackle UK's Bottom 10 Million

Quality, lasting jobs that provide opportunities for development and progression are urgently needed for around 10 million workers struggling on less than £15,000 a year, says the Work Foundation in a new report. 

The report examines in-work poverty as both a serious social injustice and a major hindrance to the UK’s economic performance. With the greatest falls in employment during the recession concentrated in the largest low-wage sectors and jobs, the bottom 10 million remains the group most vulnerable to wage reductions and job insecurity, says the report.

It sets out the labour market challenges cities and towns currently face and includes maps showing job density, claimant rates and hotspots of the UK’s lowest wages. The report concludes by outlining what policy makers need to do to tackle these issues.

Naomi Clayton, lead author of the Welfare to What? Prospects and challenges for employment recovery report said: “There is an urgent need for quality, lasting jobs that provide opportunities for development and progression. The regional and local divisions in jobs cannot be addressed without tackling the bottom 10 million.

“In places such as Blackpool, Grimsby and Hull, a third earn less than £7 an hour. Without more, better-paid jobs, long-term sustainable regeneration in these places will not be possible. In such depressed local labour markets, lack of labour demand creates and reinforces social problems, further reducing individuals’ chances of securing sustainable, quality employment.

“Both the geography of the recovery and the public spending cuts are likely to widen regional disparities and exacerbate the problems of low employer demand at local level. Based on the pace of regeneration in local areas, a balance must be struck between increasing individual mobility in order to widen access to job opportunities, while seeking to rebuild the economic base to increase the number, quality and sustainability of local jobs.”

Naomi Clayton added: “Policy makers need to consider a wider range of measures, used in parallel with the National Minimum Wage and working tax credits, to combat in-work poverty. The UK has built up a strong network of labour market intermediaries helping people find better jobs and develop skills. Sustaining and strengthening these networks for the bottom 10 million will be a key part of any future strategy and will have to be backed by sustained public investment.”

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