Four and half million in insecure work says Citizens Advice

14th June 2016

Four and a half million people in England and Wales are in insecure work, reveals new analysis by Citizens Advice.

The charity says insecure work – where people don’t have regular hours or predictable shifts – means many find it impossible to manage their budgets or plan for the future.

The new figures reveal over 2.3m people are working variable shift patterns, with an additional 1.1m on temporary contracts and further 800,000 are on either zero hour or agency contracts.

Survey findings in a new Citizens Advice briefing published today also show that people rate a steady, reliable income (92%) as just as important as the level of take-home pay (93%) when they are looking for work.

Opportunities in terms of experience (84%), being passionate about the role (82%) and progression at work (74%) and are considered less of a priority.

The research also reveals that employers have something to gain from their staff if people have a secure income – 8 in 10 (83%) people in work say a steady job with regular pay increases productivity and almost 9 in 10 (86%) report it increases their loyalty towards employers.

Citizens Advice warns that the importance of a stable job and secure income is at risk of being overshadowed by a single focus on income level.  It says recent changes to boost working people’s income – such as the introduction of the National Living Wage and raising the personal tax allowance threshold – are welcome but urgently need to be complemented by efforts to improve people’s security at work.

Previous research with staff and volunteers from across the Citizens Advice network found 83% of people with fluctuating work patterns seeking the charities’ help were struggling with debt and 87% faced delays or problems with in work benefits such as work tax credits and housing benefit.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:“Income security is the overlooked piece of the labour market puzzle. While for some people working shifts or temporary contracts may provide the flexibility they want, many others struggle to balance the books in the face of such insecure employment. We’ve found that when people are looking for work, getting a steady income is just as important to them as what they’ll be paid.

“Having a steady, reliable income is fundamental to how secure people feel and is key if the government wants to achieve its ambition of a high wage, low welfare economy. Offering people a secure income is also in the interest of employers, as it boosts staff morale and productivity.”

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