New data obtained from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) by Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna MP reveals that the number of employees on zero-hours contracts has increased more than threefold since 2010 and is more than double what the government has recently claimed.
The newly-revised estimate, based on the ONS’ Labour Force Survey, shows that there are 583,000 people currently employed on zero-hours contracts, up from 183,000 in 2010.
Commenting on these figures Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, said:
“Under David Cameron people at work have been hit by rising job insecurity as zero-hours contracts – once a type of contract that was once privy to a niche job type – are fast becoming the norm. In many cases full-time public sector jobs are being replaced by multiple part-time, temporary and insecure private sector jobs. In my opinion, it is become a source of backdoor privatisation for many of our public services, and is also artificially inflating job figures. This is the true nature of job creation under the Tory-led Government.
“Whilst I accept that these types of contracts may be suitable for certain types of professionals who enjoy the flexibility, unfortunately for most workers it makes family life impossible to manage and leaves them vulnerable to exploitation.
“I’m very pleased that Labour has committed to tackling the growing exploitative use of zero-hours contracts that provide so much uncertainty for both businesses and employees.”
Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, has today (6th March 2014) said that Age UK’s report into adult care ‘reveals shocking truths’ about the governments care plans.
Age UK’s report into care for people aged over 65 has revealed that the number of people receiving support has fallen by a third.
Tom said: “Age UK’s devastating report shows the true scale of the care crisis unfolding under this government.
“The number of people aged 85 and over, the group who are most likely to need care, has risen by 30% between 2005 and 2014 yet there has been no extra funding.
“Age UK estimates that 800,000 elderly people are going without the care that they need, they partly put this down to the ‘deep cuts’ in government funding since 2010.
“The central government cuts have forced the vast majority of councils to withdraw care from elderly people who struggle with everyday tasks such as getting up in the morning, bathing, preparing meals or going shopping. Many councils are now only able to help elderly people with ‘substantial’ needs.
“The failure to provide decent care and support for elderly people is simply unacceptable in the 21st century. Labour’s plan to integrate NHS and social care is the real reform we need to ensure all elderly people get the decent care and support that they deserve”
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (March 5th 2014) warned that there could be a threat of ‘imminent cuts’ to the Middlesbrough to Manchester Airport Trans-Pennine rail service as a result of a bungle by the Department for Transport which will see a large number of train sets used on Trans-Pennine services taken out of use and sent down to add extra passenger capacity to a rail line in the South of England.
The trains will move from April 2015 in a lease agreement. First Trans-Pennine Express (TPE) leases nine of 70 trains that will be transferred as Chiltern Railways required additional trains for its services. However, First Trans-Pennine Express said it has rights to the trains from 1 April 2015 as its current franchise ends.
“It is absolutely outrageous that carriages that are in use in the North on our railways are now apparently to be transferred to Chiltern Railways – a line that by sheer chance happens to serve the Prime Minister’s own constituency area.”
“This is absolutely unacceptable. There is clearly a threat here to Middlesbrough services. If the managers of Trans-Pennine Express lose these train sets, they will clearly move to protect their core and heavily used services between Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. This could mean that outlying branches of the Trans-Pennine network, such as the current service from Middlesbrough to Manchester Airport could be early losers. This will mean Teesside being effectively taken off the mainline rail map of England.”
“It seems that the Transport Department are saying that First Trans-Pennine Express has “no contractual rights” for these nine trains from 1 April 2015, when its current franchise ends – but that TPE disagree on this. It also seems that the Government are saying they will look to lease replacement train sets for the TPE services, but they give no timetable for this. More worryingly still, is the prospect that these might well turn out to be 30 year old time expired ‘pacers’ such as are used on local services here on Teesside. These are uncomfortable enough when someone is making a short trip from Saltburn to Middlesbrough, and the thought of having to use them for a long trip to the other side of the country is a nightmare.”
“Luckily I and my colleagues have secured a debate on this in the House of Commons which will be held next week, and we will be making sure a Government Transport Minister is dragged along to answer the criticisms that will be made then.”
Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough south and East Cleveland, welcomes national apprentice week but warns that ‘quality of apprenticeships has been badly tarnished’.
Seven years after the last Labour government started national apprentice week it is still going strong but local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop has concerns about its future.
Tom said: “The Coalition Government has relied on short apprenticeships to reduce high levels of youth unemployment but the young people who take them are being let down.
“Apprenticeships used to be the gold standard of on the job training but today one in five apprentices say they haven’t received any training as part of their apprenticeship; and another one in five apprenticeships lasts for less than six months.
“Labour will ensure that apprenticeships are once again the trusted gold standard in industry, we ensure that every apprenticeship will last a minimum of two years and will include at least a level three qualification.
“We’ll give employers more control over skills standards and funding, asking in return that they create more high quality apprenticeships in their sectors and supply chains. Apprenticeships need to give young people jobs today and skills that will last a lifetime. “
Shock figures reveal that 1 in 5 households in the North East have to spend over 10% of their disposable income on energy and the poorest households spent 11% of their disposable income on energy in 2012.
The Office of National Statistics has surveyed over 5000 households on their energy usage from in 2012.
Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said:
“While the big six energy giants are enjoying record profits around 1 in 5 households in the North East have to spend over 10% of their income to pay for energy bills.
“Every person should be able to afford to heat their home and as bills land on door mats, more and more, families will struggle to pay.
“Energy prices are a big pressure on household spending, I’ve already handed in a petition to parliament signed by hundreds of people who have found it hard to pay for their energy bills and who support Labour’s energy price freeze.
“The government must help the 7,580 households living in fuel poverty in my constituency but under the Coalition we’ve seen the average household’s energy costs go up by more than£300 a year and a huge drop in the number of homes having insulation installed. The Government needs to recognise the severity of this situation and act now to help struggling households who braved the chill this winter.”
Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop has today (4th March 2014) expressed outrage at figures released by the ‘Stop the FOBTs’ campaign group.
The figures reveal that Middlesbrough FOBT users lose £1371 a year, the biggest loss per person in the North East and one of the highest in the country.
“Fixed odd betting terminals or FOBTs can swallow £100 in just 20 seconds. Last year £8.6billion was gambled on FOBTs and users lost £1.6billion.
“FOBT users in Middlesbrough lose, on average, £1371 and the gambling industry knows this. That’s why bookmakers concentrate their shops in the town, Middlesbrough has 42 betting shop licenses more than double that of neighboring Hartlepool.
“The government has already passed on one opportunity to cap the number of machines and the maximum bet but I’m calling on them to think again. I will be meeting with representatives from the gambling industry, alongside my fellow Labour MP Graham Jones, to put ask them to impose stricter limits on maximum spending and have just one FOBT in a shop.”
Today (26th February 2014) in Parliament Labour held an Opposition Day Debate on the recently discovered loophole for the Bedroom Tax in the government’s legislation that exempts people who have been claiming housing benefit at the same property continuously since 1996.
The government has laid a Statutory Instrument to close this loophole. Labour used an Opposition Day to force a vote on a cross-party motion that, if it had been won, would have the effect of annulling this instrument.
Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, said:
“The hated Bedroom Tax has been flawed from the start and the policy is increasingly unravelling. The Coalition government has claimed that only 3,000-5,000 people fall into this loophole, but Freedom of Information investigations carried out by Labour’s Shadow DWP team suggest that the number could be far greater – in the North East alone it is estimated that the number of claimants exempted is 1,300.
“Coalition MPs on Teesside, James Wharton and Ian Swales, showed their true colours today by failing to support the motion – many of their constituents have been hit by the Bedroom Tax and will rightly feel let down by their representatives in Parliament.
“The Bedroom Tax is a cruel and unfair measure that hits some of the most vulnerable in our society, and, for the vast majority of those affected, there is nowhere smaller to move to. Instead of scrambling to close loopholes in their own legislation and bringing more people within reach of the tax, the government should be reversing it. That is something that only Labour has pledged that they will do.”
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (25th February 2014) called on Bankers, Santander, to ‘think again’ over plans to axe its agency office in Guisborough.
Tom made this comment in the light of reports that Santander were planning to close all 139 agencies – small offices operating out of local estate agents and insurance brokers – in remote communities across the UK.
“I appreciate that the growth of e-banking has meant that visits to local banks for things like withdrawals and deposits or account checking are becoming less and less a part of everyday banking, but I do have to say that there are still many people – especially the elderly – who don’t all have internet expertise or connection and rely on these agencies for a myriad of day to day transactions.
“This is particularly the case in rural areas or in smaller market towns like Guisborough, where the only choice for Santander customers will be to travel miles to Redcar if they want to bank in a branch.
“In overall terms, this move will hit the estate agents who act as hubs for Santander. Loss of agency status will mean that they will have to survive on their estate agency business – and we all know this will be difficult in a still depressed house buying marker in areas like Teesside and East Cleveland.
“When they took over these agencies Santander described them as the “lifeblood of rural communities” so I would hope that they think again, and in so doing review the social needs of their customers as part of any plan for their Guisborough customers.”
Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland has today (25th February 2014) called on the Government to provide more support for Cleveland Fire Brigade after new figures revealed serious increases in fire related incidents.
In the latest District Performance Quarterly factsheet (April – December 2013/14) ‘Total Fire Calls’ increased by over 54% from 1,985 in 2012/13 to over 3,000 in 2013/14. ‘Total Deliberate Fires’ also increased by almost 60% from 1,390 in 2012/13 to over 2,200 in 2013/14.
“These latest figures make for dire reading. Across the whole spectrum of performance indicators – bar one – things are getting worse. I believe they are proof of the immense pressure Cleveland Fire Brigade has been placed under, and that is before the latest round of Government cuts has been implemented.
“Despite Cleveland being one of the highest risk areas in England, and one of the most deprived, the Eric Pickles and his Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) are hitting it particularly hard. Already in this Parliament, the DCLG has imposed £4m of cumulative cuts on Cleveland, and is planning to impose a further £5.96m of cumulative cuts up to 2017/18.
“Cutting fire fighter numbers not only risks the Brigade’s ability to respond to emergencies, but also its ability to take proactive steps such as its community fire safety check scheme and its diversionary activities to reduce fire-related anti-social behaviour
“I have responded to the Fire Authority’s Community Integrated Management Plan to make a number of suggestions as to how the Authority should best use the limited resources it has and I feel particularly strongly that the Authority must do all it can do to avoid station closures and 25% reduction in the number of full-time firefighters that could see 130 full-time posts are being cut.
“I hope these performance indicators serve as a reminder the serious risk cuts to a life or death emergency service pose and I will continue to pressure the Government to see that Cleveland Fire Brigade gets its fair share of funding.”
Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, has today (20th February 2014) written to the Government asking them to make clear whether the Prime Minister’s announcement that ‘all councils which have given council tax relief cash to flood victims’ will be reimbursed.
“In September last year, heavy and continued rainfall across East Cleveland caused disastrous flooding affecting a number of communities in places like North Skelton, Saltburn, Skelton Green and Gaskell Lane in Loftus.
“Many people had to move out of houses and the council, rightly, granted Council Tax relief for those worst affected. In all the council has spent over £24,000.
“Now, hearing the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday, I have written to the government asking them to make it clear as to whether Redcar and Cleveland Council will be reimbursed. There can be no hidden strings lurking behind such announcements, as no-one can diminish the damage to human emotions caused by a flooded home. £24,000 is not, as I have said to the Government, a big amount compared to other areas, but it would be very helpful in underpinning the council’s on-going revenue expenditure on flood prevention works.”