Part-time shop workers now officially better off on the dole?
Remember we told you about the changes to Tax Credits back in February ? The ones where a couple earning under £18k now had to work for 24 hours a week between them (up from 16 hours) in order to continue getting all their tax credits? Well, now the GMB general workers’ union has discovered that the changes is likely to mean these people are better off on the dole than working at all. Great job by the DWP.
The GMB surveyed 60,000 members in the retail sector and 20% of members report that changes to the entitlement criteria for part time workers for Working Tax Credits (WTC) will make work “not worthwhile” for them and may put them on the dole. 60% of those affected say that they are facing a reduction in family income of over 25%, around £45 per week on average.
Martin Hird, GMB National Organiser for Retail speaking at GMB Congress said, “Unless the retail employers are able to reorganize working hours to move these part time workers up to a guaranteed minimum of 24 hours they are going to lose many experienced customers facing skilled workers who will be better off on the dole. This change entitlement criteria for WTC cuts across the practice in the sector of not guaranteeing staff proper contracted hours and relying on a flexible response to meet peaks in demand. The full extent of this change has not been felt yet by the employers.”
While it is easy to say that the lazy oiks should be working at least 24 hours a week anyway, and the comments surely will, to play devil’s advocate, at a time when retail is not performing particularly well, it may be difficult for part-time retail workers to get extra hours from their employers- even if the GMB is seeking to help people increase their contracted hours to keep them in work. And if they can’t get extra hours from their current employer, their only option is to get another job, and we all know how easy that is for skilled workers, let alone unskilled minimum-wagers. If these people are looking at losing £45 a week, that’s the equivalent of almost 8 hours work (at NMW)- and if a couple were currently working 8 hours each to make up the 16 hours, it’s no wonder they consider they are better off not working. A fine example of the benefit trap governments normally try to reduce…
Still, if you are still feeling no sympathy at all, take a look at the following league table, which gives the top 20 places in the country where people are claiming both child tax credit and working tax credit. And then you’ll know which places to avoid.