Been at work all day or watching the World Cup? Out all night and not had time to catch up on your Twitter feed? Here's a round up of some of the news.
Today it was widely believed that the law would be changed to make upskirting illegal. Upskirting is where someone sneaks a camera underneath you skirt and takes photos without your knowledge or permission. To the media this morning it was a done deal and premature congratulations rightly abounded.
However, the private member's Voyeurism (Offences) Bill introduced by Liberal Democrat Wera Hobhouse was stopped by an archaic procedure whereby an MP can say they object, which is what Tory MP Christopher Chope did to cries of "Shame" and the disappointment of the rest of the House. Many people might think that he did this because he is a fan of upskirting but he says it is because he hates private members' bills and sees it as a moral crusade to challenge them.
One of the vilest takes on this turn of events comes from "Britain's highest profile lawyer":
The bill now goes to the bottom of the pile to be raised again at the next Private Members Bill session on 6 July, 2018.
This shows how archaic our parliamentary system is. Filibustering and the object rule should be the first customs in a long list to go. However, this is unlikely to happen because parliament serves the privileged not the country and the privileged will not vote to change things that benefit them. Which leads us onto the next topic, revolving doors.
Yesterday Tory MP Edward Argar was appointed as the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Justice, He replaces Phillip Lee who resigned on Tuesday over Brexit. Argar worked for Serco for three and a half years and was the Head of UK and Europe Public Affairs at Serco for nine months before being elected as MP for Charnwood in 2015. Serco runs five private prisons on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. While the Ministry of Justice stress there is no conflict of interest just because of his previous employment, it will be interesting to keep an eye on his role and where he goes if / when he loses his seat in Charnwood.
The endless revolving doors in politics clearly indicate many MPs are in it for themselves rather than serving us or us all being in it together. When their world is so different to ours, how can they understand or legislate on what is best for us? Talking of bad legislation brings us neatly onto universal credit.
Universal Credit was brought in by Ian Duncan Smith as a flagship policy designed to bring six benefits into one with the aim of encouraging people into work rather than being stuck in a benefits trap. It was meant to save money by streamlining the benefit system. However, it has been beset by costly delays and disastrous implementation. Today the National Audit Office released their latest damning report.
They say that universal credit may end up being more costly than the system it replaces and the DWP cannot measure whether it will meet the aim to get the extra 200,000 people into work.
Forty percent of people claiming report that they are experiencing financial difficulties because of the roll out of universal credit. The DWP denies this but evidence points to universal credit being the cause. The National Audit Office states that the DWP do not know how many are suffering hardship because of universal credit.
In 2017, 25% of people were not paid on time, 40% of those waited 11+ weeks, 20% almost five months. Since pressure from parliament last year, this has improved slightly with 21% not receiving their full entitlement on time. The DWP expect little or no improvement on this in 2018.
Rent arrears have increased with the introduction of universal credit, with many private landlords reluctant to take on tenants who claim it. Amyas Morse, Head of the NAO said:
The Department has kept pushing the Universal Credit rollout forward through a series of problems. We recognise both its determination and commitment, and that there is really no practical choice but to keep on keeping on with the rollout.
A damning report from which the DWP has no place to hide.
The Gig Economy
Today the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain was given permission for a full judicial review of a previous ruling that confirmed the self-employed status of Deliveroo riders. This follows hard on the heels of the ruling that Gary Smith did have employee status while working for Pimlico Plumbers and the result will have a big impact on the gig economy as a whole.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary said:
The next Labour government will clamp down on bogus self-employment and strengthen employment rights for all workers"
However, until then, it is expected that the current government will make legislative changes this parliament to protect the gig economy. It's definitely a case of watch this space.
Today Rolls Royce announced that, in order to concentrate on manufacturing engines and power systems for the aviation, defence and energy industries, they would slash 4,600 jobs. This restructuring is despite pretax profits of £4.9 billion being reported at the end of March this year. The majority of these jobs will be in Derby, where unemployment is slowly rising and 30.9% of people claiming job seekers' allowance have been unemployed for over a year. The jobs will be cut from the 33,000 management and support workforce. If you were in any doubt about the conflict of interests between workers and the capitalist system, shares in Rolls Royce rose by more than 2% at the news that 4,600 people will lose their jobs.
There have been a swathe of job cuts this year, some to do with Brexit and some to do with the dire state of the high street, which in turn has much to do with online shopping giants like Amazon and people having little to no disposable income. The collapse of Poundworld this week has put 5,100 jobs at risk, House of Fraser are to close more than half of it's stores resulting in over 6,000 job losses, 500 jobs are at risk with the closure of Tesco Direct, 626 jobs are at risk with Marks & Spencer closing over 100 stores, hundreds of jobs will go when Mothercare closes 50 stores, BT is cutting staff by 13,000 two thirds of which will be because of their move out of central London, Virgin Media is cutting 800 jobs in Wales, RBS is cutting 792 jobs, CarpetRight is cutting 300 jobs, the closure of Toys R Us will result in the loss of 3,000 jobs, New Look is planning to close stores with the result of nearly 1,000 job losses and so it goes on.
But all we hear from the Tories is that the economy is stronger than it was under Labour and employment is at a record high. It is important to remember therefore, the definition of employment used to calculate the figures.
The number of people in employment in the UK is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and consists of people aged 16 and over who did one hour or more of paid work per week (as an employee or self-employed), those who had a job that they were temporarily away from, those on government-supported training and employment programmes, and those doing unpaid family work. Employment levels and rates are published each month in the labour market statistical bulletin.
This is from The Office for National Statistics: A guide to labour market statistics. This "one hour or more" is now more likely than ever to be insecure employment such as zero hours contracts or as part of the gig economy. The number of zero hours employment contracts rose by 100,00 in 2017 to 1.8 million. It's hard to calculate how many are in the gig economy but since 2001 self employment has risen by 45%. In 2017 more than 15% of the UK workforce were classed as self employed and the number of non-employer businesses in the UK private sector has increased by 25% since 2010. While not all these self employed people will be part of the gig economy, it is a pretty clear marker that it is on the rise. Yesterday's Pimlico Plumbers hearing at the Supreme Court, where it was decided that the claimant Gary Smith should have been classed as an employee, might put the brake on it temporarily while companies reassess what the ruling means for them. However, much of the legal discourse was around the fact that the government would eventually legislate this case law away and give companies more protections to use self employed contractors without the danger of having to class them as employees.
What this means for employment is that it is increasingly insecure and low paid. Wages are still below pre 2008 crash levels. Many people are working two jobs or more just to make ends meet. The cost of living is rising and will rise further with Brexit, eating into already low wages. Brexit will almost definitely mean a slashing of workers' rights and wages in order that the elite can still make money out of workers' labour. So when you listen to Theresa May at PMQs going on about record levels of employment, remember what that means. "ONE HOUR OR MORE EACH WEEK". No job security wanted or necessary.