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Millions of workers in insecure work

  • 13/06/2016
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New figures from Citizens Advice reveal over 2.3 million people are working variable shift patterns, with an additional 1.1 million on temporary contracts.

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Citizens Advice has revealed new analysis that shows 4.5million UK workers are in insecure work.

Insecure work is defined as employment that doesn’t have regular hours or shifts, which in turn makes it extremely difficult for those workers to manage budgets or plan for the future. The new figures reveal that over 2.3 million people are working variable shift patterns, with an additional 1.1 million on temporary contracts and a further 800,000 on either zero hour or agency contracts.

Reliable income just as important as level of take-home pay

Citizens Advice also published a new survey today that showed reliable income (92%) was just as important as the level of take-home pay (93%) when people are looking for work. Opportunities in terms of experience (84%), being passionate about the role (82%) and progression at work (74%) are considered less of a priority.

They warn that the importance of a stable job and secure income is at risk of being overshadowed by a single focus on income level. The charity says recent changes to boost working people’s income - such as the introduction of the National Living Wage and raising the personal tax allowance threshold - are welcome but urgently need to be complemented by efforts to improve people's security at work.

Comment from Citizens Advice's Chief Executive

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, commented: “Income security is the overlooked piece of the labour market puzzle. While for some people working shifts or temporary contracts may provide the flexibility they want, many others struggle to balance the books in the face of such insecure employment. We’ve found that when people are looking for work, getting a steady income is just as important to them as what they’ll be paid.”

Turn2us Comment

Alison Taylor, Turn2us Director of Operations said: "As a charity helping people in financial hardship, this echoes what we regularly hear. 39% of low income workers told us their outgoings outweigh their earnings, and 57% would like to work more hours but cannot get the work. In addition, 87% of all low income households have seen no improvement to their financial situation within the last year."

#BenefitsAware

Our research released as part of the #BenefitsAware Campaign found that almost half (48%) of low income households are not claiming the welfare benefits and tax credits they could be entitled to. This is despite the fact that a huge 87% of this group have seen no improvement to their financial situation over the last year.

Our findings uncover some of the reasons why these low income households may not be claiming this support with nearly three-fifths (57%) of those not receiving this support saying they had been deterred from checking or claiming potential benefits entitlements because they did not think they would be eligible.

Turn2us help

If you are on a low income, use our website tools and find out what financial support is available to you. The ‘In work - on a low income' section of our website has information about help you find out what you might be eligible for, including Working Tax Credit.

You can use our free Benefits Calculator to check your latest welfare benefits entitlements. Even if you have checked your benefit entitlements in the past, it is worth checking again, especially if there has been a change in your circumstances.

If you’re struggling, you can also check if you might be eligible for a charitable grant or other support by using the Turn2us Grants Search.

Sources:

Citizens Advice press release

Turn2us press release: Letter to the editor (15 June 2016)

UPDATE: This article was updated on June 16 to include Alison Taylor's comment.

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