This week, as the Government wheeled out its latest Welfare Reform proposals, the contrasts between high pay, low pay and no pay Britain could hardly have been starker….
Barclays Capital staff get 24pc pay rise
Starting at the ‘top’, this week (as with most weeks it seems) was good news for Bankers…. The Daily Telegraph revealed, pay for Barclays’ investment banking staff has increased despite a commitment by the bank to cut bonuses to below the amount distributed last year. Staff compensation at Barclays Capital increased by 24pc in the past 12 months, with the average worker in the division receiving a payout this year worth £235,807 compared with £191,000 in 2010.
Life for the ‘precariat’
Meanwhile, a great piece by John Harris of the Guardian revealed the extent to which the Coalition’s ‘flexible’ economic model relies on cripplingly low pay and rising job insecurity, at the other end of the labour market… John met low-paid and insecure workers in Swansea and London caught in a race to the bottom, in a revealing video you can watch here.
Jobless welfare reform doesn’t work
As Church Action on Poverty, Community Links and others have argued, the Government’s proposals for a Universal Credit announced this week are – in principle – good news. A simpler more transparent system which enables those in the ‘precariat’ to keep more of their hard earned income would be welcome. But as Julia Unwin of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggests, ‘Making work pay’ doesn’t just require a reworking of the benefits system. It requires work to be available, preferably in areas where unemployed people already live.
Sadly, this weeks unemployment figures show exactly the reverse. Unemployment in the UK rose by 44,000 to almost 2.5 million in the three months to the end of December, according to the Office for National Statistics. Youth unemployment rose to a new high, with more than one in five 16 to 24-year-olds out of work after a rise of 66,000 to 965,000.
Time to Close the Gap
Now, more than ever, we need action to close the gaps: To challenge the obscene and widening gap between pay at the top and pay and conditions for the precariat; to challenge the Government to come up with serious proposals for job creation to match its welfare reform proposal. So, reader, what are you prepared to do to Close the Gap? Make your own Pledges to Give, Act or Pray here….