Peter Kelly: Part-timers pose problems for Holyrood and Westminster

Writing e-mails at work - POSED: a Scotsman employee using her PC for personal e-mails during working hours.
Writing e-mails at work - POSED: a Scotsman employee using her PC for personal e-mails during working hours.
0
Have your say

These “under-employment” figures show that thousands of workers in Scotland would like to work more hours, but their employers don’t have the work available.

Although part-time work remains the preferred option for many workers, an increasing number are in part-time jobs because they can’t find a suitable full-time one.

In the context of some of the most expensive childcare costs in Europe, rising food and fuel bills and increased rail prices, part-time work simply isn’t affordable for many people.

This evidence highlights a real problem for many people working in the Scottish economy.

Whilst we may look to unemployment figures to assess whether or not our labour market is improving or getting worse, this is only one aspect we need to consider. These figures also pose a serious challenge for aspects of the UK government’s welfare changes.

When Universal Credit is introduced in October, it will mean that part-time workers will be expected to increase their hours when they can, in order to reduce their need for the state to top up their pay.

However, these figures suggest that for many workers this simply will not be possible, highlighting yet another problem with the planned welfare changes.

Added to this, the plans being debated in Westminister this week to restrict increases in tax credits to 1 per cent each year will make part-time work even less affordable to many Scottish workers.

If the UK government really wants to support people in the labour market, then they will ditch these proposals to restrict benefit increases to 1 per cent.

• Peter Kelly is director of the Poverty Alliance.