Before you vote on Thursday 8 June, do you know where your local candidates stand on the issues that matter to you?
UNISON represents people working in
community and voluntary sector
utilities and transport
That’s why we think it’s important to look at what the parties and candidates who want to be our local MPs have to say about your pay, jobs and public services.
The context in which this snap general election is taking place is stark: Inflation is now running ahead of pay increases, which means that most working people are threatened with a cut in their living standards in the period ahead. If costs rise, your pay will not go as far..
Because of the pay cap the average pay of public sector workers will be £1,700 lower in 2020 than in 2010, in real terms – a massive squeeze on your household finances.
Close to a million jobs have been cut and countless posts left unfilled, leaving our NHS, social care, local government services, policing and education struggling to meet rising demand. We know that you are feeling the pressure at work – with fewer staff trying to deliver the same level of service.
Where do the politicians stand? Click on this linkand you can send a message now to the candidates where you live, asking where they stand on these issues before you go to vote on Thursday 8 June.
1 in 4 (26.2%) people with a mental illness or phobia lasting for 12 months or more are in work, according to a report published by the TUC to coincide with its Disabled Workers’ Conference today (Thursday).
The report, Mental health and employment, contains new analysis of official employment statistics, which finds that while 4 in 5 (80.4%) non-disabled people are in work, people with mental illness, anxiety or depression have substantially lower employment rates:
Only 1 in 4 (26.2%) people with a mental illness lasting (or expected to last) more than a year are in work.
Less than half (45.5%) of people with depression or anxiety lasting more than 12 months are in work.
The TUC is concerned that this suggests employers are failing to make adequate changes in the workplace to enable people with mental illnesses, anxiety or depression to get a job, or stay in work. Mental health problems can often be ‘invisible’ to others, so a lack of mental health awareness amongst managers and employers is also likely to be a factor.
The employment rate for disabled people is increasing, but too slowly for the government to reach its target of halving the disability employment gap by 2020. The TUC estimates it will take until 2025 for those classified in official figures as having long-term depression and anxiety, and until 2029 for people classified as having long-term mental illness.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s simply not good enough that so few people with long-term mental health problems are able to stay in work.
“Not only is the economy missing out on the skills and talents these workers have, but having to leave your job can worsen your mental health.
“The next government and employers must do more to support people with mental health conditions. Simple steps like giving an employee paid time off to go to counselling appointments can make a huge difference.
“All over the country, union reps are helping working people who have mental health conditions. They help with getting bosses to make reasonable adjustments, so that people can stay in work. And they negotiate better support from employers for workers who become ill or disabled. It’s one of the many reasons why everyone should get together with their workmates and join a union.”
– The TUC report Mental health and employment is available at www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Mental_Health_and_Employment.pdf
– The report includes a more detailed presentation of analysis summarised in the table below.
Employment rates of people considered disabled under the Equality Act, and with health problems lasting more than one year, by main health problem in Q4 2016, LFS
Employment rate (%)
Mental illness or phobias
Depression or anxiety
Average for all disabled people (Equality Act definition)*
*NB: The data used in this analysis is from the Labour Force Survey, which applies the definition of disability used in the Equality Act. However, wherever possible the TUC’s preference is to use the social model of disability. See the full report for further explanation.
– The TUC is calling on the government and employers to take the following action to help eliminate the disability employment gap:
Employers have a legal obligation to put in place reasonable adjustments for disabled workers. For people experiencing mental health problems, this could include time off for counselling or other medical appointments, changes to their role, moving their workplace or allowing for homeworking.
An employer may adjust the sickness absence policy for disabled staff where time off is related to a disability. This is in recognition that some disabled people may have different and higher forms of sickness absence and the policy needs to be adjusted accordingly.
As stigma remains a huge barrier, it may be useful to consider suitable awareness-raising exercises which could include working with trade unions, disabled staff and mental health charities on awareness-raising sessions at lunchtime.
Employers should create a workplace wellbeing policy which looks at the issue of mental health holistically. This can include information on regular breaks, reducing workplace stress, the importance of physical activity, and signposting to relevant agencies.
On mental health, like other disability issues, efforts should be made to consult with staff who have experienced mental ill-health. This is in keeping with the notion that disabled people themselves should be able to determine the solutions to the issues they face.
Employers should include reference to mental health in the sickness absence policy.
Ensuring senior managers champion awareness of mental health and fight to remove the stigma around mental health in the workplace.
Engage with the recognised trade union so they can input into all policies related to mental health to ensure collective equality rights for disabled workers.
Government policies to support people with mental health conditions at work
The government should abolish tribunal fees to make it easier for those people with mental ill-health who have experienced discrimination in the workplace to access justice.
The government can make more effort to widely promote Access to Work for people with mental health problems if government funding is required for the adjustments. Access to Work is a government scheme which helps employers access funding to make adjustments to the workplace to enable disabled people to work.
The government should stop cuts to disabled people’s financial support which make it harder for disabled people to survive and even harder to access work. This includes cuts to Employment and Support Allowance which supports people out of work, and to the Personal Independence Payment, which can support people both in and out of the workplace.
I campaigned alongside many of you to remain in the EU, and the triggering of Article 50 is not the outcome Labour fought for last summer. But together, we can challenge Tory plans at every stage of this process. We must ensure that jobs, living standards and your rights at work are protected.
From today, Labour’s focus is on making sure this Tory Government guarantees the rights and protections we value most. As I said earlier, we cannot allow Britain to become a low-pay tax haven that only works for a few.
Watch and share our video, calling on the Government to protect jobs, and rights for workers in every part of the UK.
I will fight for real protection for the economy and the same benefits currently enjoyed within the single market. The UK needs to retain a strong relationship with our international partners, because important issues like climate change and cross-border crime cannot be tackled by one country in isolation.
Teenagers in parts of Northern England are more likely to feel that where they live will have a negative impact on their chances in life, according to an in-depth study of British adolescent attitudes.
Figures from a major 12-month study for the National Citizen Service, to which i has exclusive access, suggest that nearly half of those in Yorkshire (48 per cent) and more than two-fifths of those in the North East (43 per cent) felt strongly that where they live will affect their ambition of achieving their dreams.
A third of those in the North West (33 per cent) also strongly agreed. It compared with just 25 per cent in London and the South East.
It’s clear much more needs to be done to give every young person in the UK the same advantages – whether they grow up in London or Newcastle.
Kirstie Donnelly, City and Guilds
The findings follows a separate study earlier this year by vocational education organisation City and Guilds, which said teenagers in the North East are the least confident about their future and that less than half of the region’s young people expect to be working in the job of their choice in 10 years’ time.
But the new National Citizen Service survey also found that nearly two-thirds of teenagers across the country overall (63 per cent) think they will achieve their dream job and even more (65 per cent) believe they will earn more than their parents.
‘Shocking but not a surprise’
Kirstie Donnelly, managing director of City and Guilds, said the results of the NCS survey where “shocking”, but were “sadly, not a surprise” and the body’s own Great Expectations survey found that just 45 per cent of teenagers in the North East thought they would be working in their dream career.
She said: “It’s clear much more needs to be done to give every young person in the UK the same advantages – whether they grow up in London or Newcastle. We would like to see a new approach to careers advice which gives every child access to the same careers information and strong links to the business sector.”
The NCS survey of 1,000 young people aged 16 and 17 also found that more than more than one in three teens in both the North East (36 per cent) and Yorkshire (34 per cent) fear that their accent will hold them back, compared with 28 per cent in the South East.
Teenagers in the South East are four times more likely to agree that “young people from my area tend to achieve highly” than those in the North East – 39 per cent compared with just 10 per cent.
A quarter of teens in the North East (26 per cent) and a fifth of those in Yorkshire and the Humber (22 per cent) found that they strongly agreed that young people in their area generally needed to move away to find opportunities for work, compared with just 15 per cent in London and 12 per cent in the South East.
Only eight per cent in the North East agreed that people in their area generally go to university, compared with 19 per cent in London and 24 per cent in the South East.
Separate research by the IPPR North think-tank earlier this year found that the North-South gap in educational outcomes costs the UK £29bn in lost productivity.
It said the gap begins even before primary school and, at secondary school level, London gets £1,300 more per head than in the North.
The Government said building the Northern Powerhouse is a long-term priority and the Government is making huge strides in rebalancing the economy. It says 187,000 jobs were created in the North in the past year.
It said the pupil premium – worth £2.5bn this year – has seen the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their better off peers fall both in primary and secondary education and there are there are 1.4 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.
A Government spokeswoman said it would consider the results of the survey.
“We want to make this a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. Whether it’s education, jobs, or housing, this means giving families more control over their lives – and doing more to help those who are just managing,” she said.
“As the Prime Minister said on the steps of Downing Street, this Government is committed to fighting injustice wherever it arises – and ensuring that everyone in our country has the opportunity to go as far as their talents will take them.”
In the first comprehensive analysis of the cost to the state of the de-industrialisation that began three decades ago, Sheffield Hallam University said the annual bill was at least £20bn and was perhaps as high as £30bn.The report found that the cumulative legacy of the hollowing-out of manufacturing and the year-long miners’ strike of 1984-85 was a far heavier concentration of people claiming incapacity benefits than in the richer parts of Britain and a more widespread use of tax credits to top up the wages of those in low-paid jobs.
The report’s co-author, Prof Steve Fothergill, said: “The long-term effect of job destruction in older industrial Britain has been to park vast numbers out of the labour market on incapacity benefits, these days employment and support allowance (ESA). The cost to the Treasury is immense, especially if all the top-up benefits are included.
“Added to this, low wages in these weaker local economies have jacked up spending on in-work benefits such as tax credits and reduced income tax revenue. None of these impacts have diminished over the years, despite the recent upturn and efforts to cut claimant numbers.
“We estimate that the ongoing cost to the exchequer, in extra benefit spending and lost tax revenue, is at least £20bn a year, and possibly nearer £30bn. To put this another way, approaching half the current budget deficit is the result of job destruction in Britain’s older industrial areas.”
The report – Jobs, Welfare and Austerity – said there was a continuous thread linking what happened to British industry in the 1980s to the welfare cuts being borne by communities in the north, Scotland and Wales today.
The loss of manufacturing jobs fuelled spending on welfare benefits which in turn had added to the financial problems of successive governments and led to pressure for cuts.
“The welfare reforms implemented since 2010, and strengthened since the 2015 general election, hit the poorest places hardest,” the report said. “In effect, communities in older industrial Britain are being meted out punishment in the form of welfare cuts for the destruction wrought to their industrial base.”
The report comes as Theresa May’s government is coming under increasing pressure to delay cuts in disability benefits announced by the former chancellor, George Osborne, as part of his now abandoned plan to put the public finances back into the black by the end of the parliament.
May has raised expectations of action to help Britain’s manufacturing heartlands by stressing the need for the country to have an industrial strategy and by emphasising the difficulties faced by working-class families in the speech made in Downing Street on the day she became prime minister.
But the Sheffield Hallam study found that Scotland, along with Wales and large areas of the north of England, still bore the scars of the period in the early 1980s when high interest rates and a strong pound led to the loss of 2 million jobs and a fifth of the UK’s manufacturing capacity.
Subsequent recessions in the early 1980s and the late 2000s have meant that the number of people working in industry has fallen from a peak of 8.9 million to 2.9 million over the past 50 years – a far bigger decline than in other advanced economies.
The report found that the increase from 750,000 to 2.5 million in the number of people on disability-related benefits reflected hidden unemployment and that 18 of the 20 districts with the highest incapacity rates were in older industrial Britain. In Blaenau Gwent and Neath Port Talbot in South Wales, and in Glasgow, the incapacity claimant rate was 11.9%.
In areas where the local economy was strong, there were much lower incapacity claimant rates. Only one London borough, Islington, featured in the top 100, with only four other districts in the south-east featuring, all of them seaside towns.
Fothergill and his co-author, Christina Beatty, said the UK spent £34bn a year on working-age incapacity benefits once housing benefits and tax credits were added to ESA. Of this, they said £10bn-£14bn was the cost of job destruction in older industrial Britain.
They added that higher claimant count unemployment in the old industrial areas was costing the exchequer a further £1bn-£1.5bn a year.
The study estimated that the government was also subsidising the poorly paid jobs that had replaced those lost in manufacturing in the older industrial areas to the tune of £10bn a year. Spending on tax credits exceeded £850 per head a year, double the level in southern Britain.
As a result, the poorer parts of Britain were vulnerable to the freezing of non-pensioner benefits, including tax credits, which Osborne announced for the duration of the current parliament. The study estimated that the average working age adult in the older industrial regions would lose £750 a year by 2020-21, whereas the average loss in Cambridge would be £340.
It added: “The Treasury has misdiagnosed high welfare spending as the result of inadequate work incentives and has too often blamed individuals for their own predicament, whereas in fact a large part of the bill is rooted in job destruction extending back decades.”
New analysis by the Centre for Economic Performance
A reduction in immigration from the European Union (EU) following a vote for Brexit would not lead to any improvement in living standards for those born in the UK. Cuts in EU immigration would not offset the big fall in UK living standards caused by the reduction in trade and investment that would result from Brexit.
These are among the conclusions of new research by the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) at the London School of Economics. The fifth in a series of #CEPBrexit reports – co-authored by Professor Jonathan Wadsworth, a former member of the Home Office’s Migration Advisory Colmmittee – analyses the impact of EU immigration on the UK, an issue that lies at the heart of the referendum campaign.
The researchers highlight the empirical evidence showing conclusively that EU immigration has not had significantly adverse effects on average employment, wages, inequality or public services at the local level for people born in the UK. Falls in average real wages of UK-born workers are more closely associated with the biggest economic crash for more than 80 years.
Ending free movement of labour would damage the national economy. First, it would curtail the country’s full access to the Single Market. Second, it would lower GDP per person since EU immigrants have higher employment rates than the UK-born and therefore help to reduce the budget deficit. And third, there is evidence that lower immigration harms national productivity.
Between 1995 and 2015, the number of immigrants from other EU countries living in the UK more than tripled from 0.9 million to 3.3 million. In the year to September 2015, EU net immigration to the UK was 172,000, only just below the figure of 191,000 for non-EU immigrants.
The big increase in EU immigration occurred after the ‘A8’ East European countries joined in 2004. In 2015, about a third of EU immigrants lived in London, compared with only 11% of the UK-born. 29% of EU immigrants were Polish.
EU immigrants are more educated, younger, more likely to be in work and less likely to claim benefits than the UK-born. About 44% have some form of higher education compared with only 23% of the UK-born.
Many people are concerned that immigration reduces the pay and job chances of the UK-born since this means more competition for jobs. But immigrants also consume goods and services and this increased demand helps to create more employment opportunities. So we need empirical evidence to settle the issue of whether the economic impact of immigration is bad or good for people born in the UK.
Our new evidence shows that the areas of the UK with large increases in EU immigration did not suffer greater falls in the jobs and pay of UK-born workers. The big falls in wages after 2008 are due to the global financial crisis and a weak economic recovery, not to immigration.
There is also little effect of EU immigration on inequality through reducing the pay and jobs of less skilled UK workers. Changes in wages and joblessness for less skilled UK-born workers show little correlation with changes in EU immigration.
EU immigrants pay more in taxes than they use public services and therefore they help to reduce the budget deficit. Immigrants do not have a negative effect on local services such as education, health or social housing; nor do they have any effect on social instability as indicated by crime rates.
The refugee crisis is unrelated to our EU membership. Refugees admitted to Germany have no right to live in the UK. The UK is not in the Schengen passport-free travel agreement so there are border checks on all migrants.
Jonathan Wadsworth commented: “The bottom line, which may surprise many people, is that EU immigration has not harmed the pay, jobs or public services enjoyed by Britons. In fact, for the most part it has likely made us better off. So far from EU immigration being a ‘necessary evil’ that we pay to get access to the greater trade and foreign investment generated by the EU Single Market, immigration is at worse neutral and at best, another economic benefit.”
John Van Reenen highlighted: “The immigration impact hinges on the post-Brexit trade deal – if we go for a deal like Norway or Switzerland, immigrant numbers won’t change much, as free movement of labour is part of the package. But if we go for a looser trading arrangement we lose out much more from falls in trade and foreign investment”
Swati Dhingra said “Although some people value a diverse society with other Europeans, many other people do not. For this latter group, cutting back EU migration may bring cultural benefits, but Brexit would bring a financial cost.”
CEP BREXIT Analysis Brexit and the Impact of Immigration on the UK Swati Dhingra, Gianmarco Ottaviano, John Van Reenen and Jonathan Wadsworth
May 2016 Paper No’ CEPBREXIT05: Read Abstract | Full Paper | Technical Paper
Labour MP Dan Jarvis wants to stay in the EU while many of his constituents want to leave
Members of Parliament have passionate views – that’s why they go into politics. But what happens when their views – or at least some of them – differ from their constituents?
The Labour MP for Barnsley Central, Dan Jarvis, is dealing with that scenario. The former Army major wants the UK to stay in the European Union while many of his constituents want it to leave.
Over the next few weeks, the MP will be knocking on doors to try and convince people to side with him on 23 June. “This is such a big decision,” he says.
“The implications of it are so momentous for every aspect of our lives. In terms of our economy, in terms of our ability to keep ourselves safe – what is required is a hard-headed judgement about what is in our national interest and for me that’s staying in the EU.”
Image copyrightGetty Images Opinion polls suggest Barnsley is the 11th most Eurosceptic town in Britain
The South Yorkshire constituency of Barnsley Central has a population of 85,000 people.
In the town centre, its cute market sells a variety of goods from freshly baked bread to electronics and clothing.
There is banter among the traders – the customers pitch in with jokes about who’s doing better business on a crisp, cold day. It is like something out of EastEnders.
‘Too many immigrants’
According to a recent YouGov poll, Barnsley is the 11th most Eurosceptic place in Britain.
Speaking to locals as they meander through the colourful stalls, it is clear there are many here who want to get out of the EU as quickly as possible.
“Too much red tape”, “far too many immigrants”, “we’re more vulnerable to extremism” – some of the reasons they present me with as I walk along the back of the market.
Resident Ian Sawyer is keen for the UK to leave the EU
Ian Sawyer is a former policeman. He was born and raised in Barnsley and relishes its history and development.
He wants the future here to prosper, and for the younger generation to get the best out of Britain and its resources. For that to happen, he tells Dan Jarvis, the UK has to leave the EU.
“I think our country would be safer. We would have more control over people coming into the country and people going out of the country.
“I think we would have better control over our borders and immigration. These people who come in for financial immigration, I have a real problem with them.”
Talking to the undecided
Dan Jarvis knows he is not winning here. Mr Sawyer tells him he is not switching sides no matter what the MP says.
I challenge Mr Jarvis: “People don’t want to listen to you, do they?”
“I don’t take that personally,” he replies. “Look, I suspect there are some people who have made their minds up.
“The reality is, as we’ve experienced today, there are a number of people who haven’t made their minds up – who are undecided.
“And it’s those people that I need to be talking to.”
In 2011, there was a by-election in Barnsley Central triggered by the former MP Eric Illsley being convicted for expenses fraud.
The safe Labour seat was won by Dan Jarvis – but UKIP came second while the Liberal Democrats were pushed into sixth place. Arguably these results were a strong indication of how people were feeling about the EU.
In the 2015 general election, the results put the two parties in the same positions: Labour came out top with UKIP in second.
Local resident Anne Robey quickly tells me she will vote to leave the EU in the referendum but she says she is willing to listen to Dan Jarvis’s argument.
“I just think we’ll be so much better off if we go… and everyone you speak to here says the same,” she says.
Image copyrightSISKA GREMMELPREZ Jobs and immigration appear crucial for the EU referendum
Dan Jarvis is patient – he listens attentively. Then his words fill the short silence: “There are a quarter of a million jobs directly connected to our ability to export goods and products to the EU. If we come out, a quarter of a million jobs just in Yorkshire will be at risk.”
Ms Robey nods. “No – you’re convincing me,” she says. “But as I said, it’s just that everyone I’ve spoken to says we want to be out.”
For journalists and politicians there is no getting away from the EU referendum, but amongst the public here, many are not thinking about it just yet. After all there are seven weeks to go before voting day.
Most of Barnsley’s people are on low to middle incomes. Unsurprisingly, jobs and immigration seem to be the key issues.
The most popular question being asked here is: what will be more beneficial financially – In or Out?
Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to steelworkers to fight the possible closure of under-threat plants as a Cabinet minister was forced to return from Australia to deal with the crisis engulfing the industry.
On a day political sparring after Indian firm Tata announced it is to offload its UK business, putting thousands of British jobs at risk, the Labour leader tonight spoke to workers at the Port Talbot furnaces in South Wales and promised to “save” the industry.
“What is made in Port Talbot, ends up in everything we use. It ends up in every can of drink we get, tin can, every food we eat from a can, and many, many other things come from that,” he told a small social club gathering after cutting short his holiday in Devon.
PAUL ELLIS via Getty Images
It followed his call earlier in the day to recall Parliament, currently on its Easter recess, to debate the troubled industry which is facing collapse because of cheap overseas imports.
The Government rejected the call, and there was confusion from the Department for Business after Javid, who was on a trade mission in Australia, poured cold water on earlier suggestions the Tata UK holdings could be re-nationalised until a buyer could be found.
“I don’t think that nationalisation is going to be the solution,” he told the BBC.
It remains unclear how far Labour wants to intervene, but Corbyn said today “if necessary” ministers must be “prepared to use their powers to take a public stake in steelmaking to protect the industry and British manufacturing”.
Corbyn spoke to workers as he launched an online petition to harness support – and more than 47,000 signed it within three hours. He told those gathered Labour would fight to make sure the plant was not destroyed “at the alter of a global corporation that’s decided somewhere along the line that Port Talbot is expendable”. “Sorry, it’s not,” he told them.
Downing Street this afternoon underlined the measures ministers were taking and David Cameron, who has just returned from his holiday in Lanzarote as planned, will tomorrow chair a meeting of key ministers at No 10.
However, many will question what a government can do against the Port Talbot plant losing £1 million a day.
The decision puts Tata’s 15,000 workers in the UK – including 4,000 at Port Talbot – at risk of losing their jobs. It affects workers at its other UK plants, including Rotherham, Corby and Shotton.
Analysis by the IPPR think tank released today also estimated in total 40,000 jobs could be lost in UK steel-making communities if no buyer is found for Tata Steel’s UK business.
The House of Commons is currently not sitting as it is Easter recess and MPs are not due to return to Westminster until April 11.
This morning the government signalled it could take temporary ownership of troubled British steelworks to keep the furnaces burning while looking for a private sector buyer.
Business minister Anna Soubry said state control was an “option”. Soubry said it could take months to secure a private sector buyer for the plants.
Welsh actor Michael Sheen, who grew up in the Port Talbot area, has called on the government to “do all they can”. He said on Twitter: “Welsh and UK government must do all they can now to show support for steelworkers in Port Talbot and across the UK.
“Steel industry hit hard by ‘08 bank crisis. Hope as much support for steel industry and workers now they face their time of greatest need.”