Frank Field MP
Your MP for Birkenhead
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The face of a hungry worker is another unacceptable face of capitalism

10
Aug

We now know that almost half a million workers cannot afford to feed themselves and their families from week to week.

Based on what working households in Birkenhead have reported to me, there are four key areas that need to be addressed.

First, we need a review of the regulations on zero-hours contracts. I’ve written to the business minister asking him to consider encouraging or, if necessary, requiring employers to offer their workers fixed-hours contracts. As things stand, tens of thousands of people on zero-hours contracts go hungry each week.

Second, I’ve arranged to meet with officials from HMRC to propose a series of measures to improve the administration of tax credits, so that low-paid workers are not all of a sudden left without money following a change of circumstances within their household.   

A third proposal I’ve submitted to ministers is a New Deal on Prepayment Meters. This would build on the incoming price cap, to eliminate the premium paid by mainly poorer households who pay for their gas and electricity using a prepayment meter. It would, amongst other things, require energy companies to help households who are caught out over the summer months by daily standing charges, even when they are not using their meter.

Finally, dozens of ‘self-employed’ Hermes couriers have reported to me that their hourly wages fall below the minimum wage, and that they can have work taken away from them at the drop of a hat. Some of those couriers will have gone hungry. I have therefore asked the Prime Minister to initiate an inquiry into the wages and conditions associated with self-employment in low-paying industries, starting with the courier industry.

The face of a hungry worker is another unacceptable face of capitalism.


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