Category Archives: Employment

Visits Back-to-Work Programme for People with Disabilities

Dame Anne was delighted to visit the Shaw Trust and their centre to witness its work in action.

The visit included a tour of the centre, meeting with people with disabilities on the programme and holding discussions with staff. Dame Anne was introduced to Shaw Trust job coaches and employment advisors who provided detailed, step-by-step overviews of the intensive, tailored support Shaw Trust provides its beneficiaries to guide them into sustainable employment and independence.

Anne at Shaw TrustStaff at the Aberdeen centre emphasised the holistic nature of the support Shaw Trust offers, highlighting the assistance given to the charity’s beneficiaries to help them overcome the challenges facing them.

Work Choice is the Government’s specialist disability employment programme designed specifically for people who, due to their disability or health condition, may find it difficult to find or keep a job. Shaw Trust delivers the Work Choice employment programme as a subcontractor to prime provider, Momentum Skills, in Aberdeen.

Dame Anne Begg said of the visit:

 “Nearly half of all working age people with disabilities are out of work, underlining the need for effective employment support. People often need to be supported over a long period of time to ensure they are successfully guided into independence and long-term employment. Programmes like Work Choice, as delivered by Shaw Trust, can help get more people with disabilities into work.”

Tanya Gilchrist, Shaw Trust head of operations for Scotland, added:

“Work Choice is proving an incredibly effective programme, with over 2,500 people supported into work in Scotland so far. As a charity, Shaw Trust offers help to the most vulnerable members of society in need of extensive support. Many of our beneficiaries contend with a range of severe disabilities and health conditions, and as a result, require intensive and long-term support.”

Let’s Tackle Low Pay and Deal with the Cost of Living Crisis

Hard-working families in Aberdeen South are struggling as they face the greatest cost of living crisis in a generation.

Wages have gone up slower than prices for 39 out of 40 of the months David Cameron has been Prime Minister and many hard-working families struggle to make ends meet. Average wages are over £1,500 lower than they were when the Tories came into power in 2010 and year after year people are working harder, for longer, for less.

Thousands of hard-working people in Aberdeen South get up early to go to work, do the right thing and yet struggle to pay their bills. It can’t be right that we’ve now reached the point where more of the people bringing up families in poverty are in work than out of work.

We need to make sure work always pays which is why Ed Miliband has this week announced plans to introduce Make Work Pay contracts that will help businesses raise wages for millions of low-paid workers, and help the next Labour government cut social security bills for the taxpayer.

Firms that sign up to paying their employees the living wage, currently £8.80 in London and £7.65 elsewhere, in the first year of the next Parliament will be offered a 12 month tax rebate of up to £1,000 for each individual worker that receives a pay rise.

The money would be fully funded from increased income tax and National Insurance revenues. Additional savings in lower tax credits and benefit payments, as well as increased tax revenues in future years, will cut social security bills and help pay down the deficit.

Make Work Pay contracts will benefit employees, businesses and the British taxpayer. Low-paid workers will be paid more, firms will receive a tax rebate and will benefit from higher staff morale, increased productivity and lower turnover of staff, and the taxpayer will see a reduced social security bill from lower spending on tax credits and benefits for people in low paid work.

Thousands of families in Aberdeen South are struggling to deal with the rising cost of living and encouraging more firms to pay their employees the living wage is a positive way of really helping people deal with the cost of living crisis.

We need real action to end exploitive zero-hours contracts and rising insecurity in the workplace

Families in Aberdeen South and across the country are facing the greatest cost of living crisis in a generation. Prices are increasing, wages are falling and for many hard-working people there is rising insecurity in the workplace.

One of the worst examples of this is the exploitive use of zero-hours contracts. I know that many people in Aberdeen South are employed on zero-hours contracts and they and their families face a real struggle on a daily basis.

According to recent estimates there could be as many as 1 million workers employed on zero-hours contracts – with a big increase since the Tory-led government took office –  and they are now used in one in five workplaces.

The Tory-led government has failed to act on zero-hours contracts. It emerged that a ‘review’ of the issue initiated by Business Secretary Vince Cable earlier this year consisted of three officials spending part of their time “speaking informally” with stakeholders.

Zero-hours contracts mean insecurity and stress for too many families in Aberdeen South. We can’t let this continue, which is why I voted on Wednesday for an end to their exploitive use and for action to stop rising insecurity at work.

The Tory-led government has failed to act. According to recent estimates there could be as many as 1 million workers employed on zero-hours contracts – with a spike since the Tory-led government took office –  and they are now used in one in five workplaces.

A Labour Government would ban employers from insisting zero-hours workers be available even when there is no guarantee of any work, stop zero-hours contracts that require workers to work exclusively for one business and end the misuse of zero-hours contracts where employees are in practice working regular hours over a sustained period.

Both employers and employees need flexibility but this shouldn’t mean people in Aberdeen South lacking job security and having to be flexible about whether or not they can afford the weekly shop. We’ve got to put a stop to it and that is what Labour is determined to do.

Hard-working people should feel confident and secure at work; ending the exploitive use of zero-hours contracts is an integral part of achieving this.

The Work Programme is not working for those most in need

Following the Select Committee’s recent inquiry into the Work Programme, Dame Anne led a debate in Westminster Hall highlighting that, while the programme might be delivering sustained job outcomes for some people, it was not effective in helping those who have major barriers to work, in particular, those who have a disability or health problem.

In fact, where previous specialist welfare-to-work programmes for people with disabilities achieved job outcomes between 10% and 30%, recent statistics show that the Work Programme has achieved a success rating of only 5.8%.

Dame Anne said: “The Work Programme is failing those furthest from the labour market.

“Major changes to the way in which the contracts are delivered, and to how the differential pricing structure works, need to be made if the Work Programme is to begin properly delivering job outcomes for those with the highest barriers to work.”

The new Minister for Employment, Esther McVey MP admitted that the Work Programme was “not perfect”.

A full transcript of the debate can be read here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131010/halltext/131010h0001.htm#131010h0001.htm_spnew22

Skills for Work Month: Feeding Britain’s Future

Skills for Work Month, supported by the Co-operative Food in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, is aimed at offering young unemployed people opportunities to prepare for the workplace and introduce them to employment opportunities in food retail and manufacture through a series of workshops.

Dame Anne was delighted to be invited along to a local Co-op to have the opportunity to meet with one of the groups of young people at the start of their session and hear about what they hoped to achieve from the day. DSCN4855

Money to be invested in Aberdeen to improve broadband access

Dame Anne has welcomed the announcement in the Chancellor’s Autumn statement that Aberdeen will be one of the cities to benefit from a scheme investing £50 million to improve broadband access.

She said: “Despite Aberdeen being an economic powerhouse of the UK, some areas in the city still suffer from very poor broadband connections.

“Therefore, I welcome today’s announcement that money is to be invested to improve broadband access. This recognises the importance of Aberdeen to the wider UK economy.”

Mental Health discrimination speech in Parliament debate

Dame Anne spoke at Friday’s debate on Mental Health discrimination in Parliament.

Her two speeches are available to read online:

The debate can also be watched online on Parliament TV. Dame Anne speaks at 10.01am.