Tag Archives: Labour

Jobs boom but young are left bust

By Kasia Banas, Consultant

Britain is seeing unprecedented jobs and employment growth despite an ageing population and increased health problems, a new report has shown.

Resolution Foundation started the year with launch of ‘Setting the record straight’ – its latest report exploring how record employment levels have changed the country since the financial crisis.

At the event in their Westminster headquarters, Senior Economic Analyst Stephen Clarke presented the findings on the post-crisis job growth and the current record employment rate of 75.7%, taking place against a demographic headwind of an ageing society with increased health issues.

The good news is that the rising employment has resulted in falling ‘employment inequality’ with two-thirds of jobs going to households in the bottom half of earnings. Single parents, people with ill-health or a disability, and people with low qualifications have also done particularly well. This does not mean that all jobs growth has just been in low-paid jobs however and, in fact, higher-paid occupations have expanded faster.

Young hit hard by insecurity

However, one group that has not fully benefited from the growth of higher-paying occupations are young people. The share of 18-29 year olds in lower-paying job roles has expanded over the last decade, while it has fallen for the rest of the workforce. Young people have also been amongst those most affected by another post-crisis trend – an increase in atypical and insecure roles such as self-employment, zero-hours contracts and agency work.

The stats will come as further unwelcome news for young people struggling to make a living and get on the housing ladder, especially with the average first-time buyer deposit in London at an eye-watering £114,952 – 27% of the purchase price and a three-fold increase from £38,335 in 2008.

Another positive is the strong performance of typically low employment areas such as South Yorkshire and Merseyside, which have had the highest growth rates. However, while overall geographic ‘employment inequality’ is falling, the Foundation warns that some areas outside of big cities have seen less benefit from Britain’s jobs boom.

Minister for Employment Alok Sharma welcomed the foundation’s work and assured the audience the that government’s three employment priorities are focus on quality new jobs; growth of employment for disadvantaged groups; and support for career progression to escape from low pay. He also expressed his confidence in technological change and the growth of AI having a positive impact on the labour market in the future.

Other speakers addressed the issues of mandatory gender pay gap reporting, need for employment rights to reflect the modern workplaces, and Britain’s continuing shift towards service sectors, which disproportionately benefits urban areas.

While the report points to a lot of positive developments in Britain’s labour market since the crisis, they have been overshadowed by ‘the deepest pay squeeze in over 200 years’, with Britain’s real average earnings £470 lower than they were a decade ago.

Policy makers now have the difficult task of tackling the new challenges that have developed alongside the jobs boom, in particular the poor pay and productivity performance of younger workers, the relatively poor performance of rural areas and smaller urban areas, and the endurance of atypical work. Good luck to them.



Brexit Festival, dirty dancing and housing policies galore

By Michael Hardware, Director of Planning and Property

The dust has finally settled from another entertaining 2018 party political conference season, with plenty to mull over.

One unforgettable highlight this week saw an unconventional podium walk from the Prime Minister at the Conservative conference in Birmingham. Aside from that, the past three weeks has also seen Labour coming out strong in Liverpool and the Lib Dems reasserting themselves in Brighton.

There were no disasters, no mishaps, no significant rows, a potential bid to join the 2019 “Strictly” team, Diane Abbott beer mats, Vince Cable mugs and the occasional ‘exotic spresm’.

There was offence when the Home Secretary compared the EU to the Soviet Union, but that was from Donald Tusk, European Council president, so was very much welcomed by many Conservative members. Brexit was ever-present at all the conferences but not actually discussed in detail, apart from when Mrs May’s utterly bizarre plans for a Brexit Festival were being roundly ridiculed.

Conservative Leader in Wanting, Boris Johnson, made another populist speech, with much about housebuilding and planning. He rounded on the top eight housebuilders and the practice of land banking, perpetuating this idea, regardless of the fact his own government’s review into housebuilding found this was not an issue. More has to be done by the industry to address this as it is a perception that is widely held across councils, councillors and the media.

Conservatives and Labour agreed housing was the key issue after Brexit. It is a “housing crisis” and “the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation”, according to Theresa May.

Labour introduced a swathe of policies sure to appease those unable to get their foot on the housing ladder, setting out plans to double council tax on holiday properties in England, introduce a commission to make citizens more involved in planning decisions, build more affordable homes and protect renters rights.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats turned up and were just excited to be there. Alright, that’s not exactly fair: they also proposed setting up a British Housing Company to acquire land for housebuilding through compulsory acquisition, and set out some genuinely interesting proposals on Rent-to-Buy.

Caps were removed, upward development approved, targets of 300,000 new homes confirmed and a new homes ombudsman announced, all polished off with the ‘Maybot’ and an increasingly copied Pinocchio dance sweeping the nation.

Read our more detailed summaries of what happened at the ConservativeLabour and Lib Dem conferences.

Labour conference – roundup special

By Daniel Fryd, Senior Consultant

Despite weeks of internal scrapping over rule-changes, anti-Semitism rows and haranguing from the right-wing press, Labour came together to actually deliver a coherent and articulate vision for their Britain at their conference last week. 

Brexit naturally captured the headlines, and the possibility of a people’s vote has captured the imaginations of Remainers across the country. There were important announcements too on workers’ rights, green jobs and a second homes levy to help alleviate homelessness.  

Homelessness and housing has, of course, always been one of Labour’s strong suits, so when the Shadow Housing Secretary said in his speech last Monday that a Labour government would be “the most radical government on housing for over half a century” we were poised for some significant announcements. 

Labour did, largely, live up to expectations, and in between the largely inappropriate Palestinian flag waving and videos of Corbyn calling the bingo numbers at bizarre fringe events, there was some genuinely important policy announcements which will give the Government some pause for thought. 

Hiking levies on holiday homes 

In what feels like a natural Labour move, Healy announced a second homes levy which would see council tax for properties in England which used as holiday homes doubled, with an average tax bill of more than £3,200.  

This is no small beer: with the number of multiple-home-owners soaring by 30% from 2002 to 2014 there are now 5.2 million in England, particularly concentrated in the holiday coastal regions around Cornwall and Norfolk.

The policy would raise something in the region of £560 million which would go towards addressing homelessness, we are told, although exactly how it is going to be spent is unclear. Labour sources suggest it would be used to help children in temporary accommodation. 

The angry response from the Telegraph which, for some reason, thinks all of its readers have second homes, has just provided greater exposure for the policy. It is only certain portion of the baby-boomer population who bought their homes at the right time who can actually afford to have second homes, of course. While the vast majority of people struggle   

A revolutionary local plan system 

Capturing most interest has been the newly formed Planning Commission, a headline announcement by Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne, which is tasked with giving communities a more substantial voice on town planning. Much to the chagrin of planners and developers still coming to terms with the refreshed NPPF, the Commission will be tasked with proposing a revolutionary new system of local planning which will involve residents more closely. It will also look at land value capture and ways to boost the supply of land throughout the country. 

With representatives from the National Housing Federation, the Local Government Association, the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Town and Country Planning Association, Gwynne believes the Commission’s recommendations can turn the balance of planning policy away from being ‘developer-led’ and back to residents. 

Renters unite 

Labour had some good news for renters and those on low incomes as well, with a £20m pledge to set up a new renter’s union. The money would be made available to bidding unions over a three-year period to help grow their services. 

With a huge proportion of renters, especially in cities like London, the move could help ensure renters have the same backing and assistance that 30,000 private residential landlords through the National Landlords Association. 

Leading to victory 

There was only so much that Labour could announce at the Conference, given that they have announced a host of new policies on housing in their ‘Homes for the Many’ report released back in April. In there they pledged, among other things, to build a million “truly affordable” homes and to rip up the definition of what affordable homes are. 

All of this resonates well with an electorate facing the worst housing crisis in recent history, and a Government with a seeming obsession with home ownership. 

Agree with it or not, Labour is making a coherent argument on how to fix the housing crises by increasing levies on the rich, giving communities more power in planning decision, and increasing social house building.  

And agree with them or not, Labour is looking more and more like a party that is getting ready to get into power.

You can read our Tory conference special here and Lib Dem analysis here.