Blog & Articles

Are zero hours contracts here to stay?

Date: 5. August 2013
Vidhya Alakeson

It is not surprising that at the end of the longest economic downturn the UK has ever faced to see an increase in the number of people on zero hours contracts. In uncertain times, employers have turned to these contracts to weather a difficult economic climate. By not guaranteeing employees a set number of hours of work, zero hours contracts allow employers to respond flexibly to demand. Local Authorities have found them similarly useful in the face of budget cuts and an uncertain future for many council services. The question for the coming years is whether, as the economy starts to recover, zero hours contracts are here to stay.

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Doing the zero sums

Date: 2. July 2013
Vidhya Alakeson and Matthew Pennycook
Pressure on public sector budgets has led to a rise in zero-hours contracts, particularly in the care sector. The biggest losers are vulnerable service-users and staff on poor pay and insecure hours. It all adds up to the next big care scandal

Over the past year, the government has repeatedly raised concerns about the quality of care in hospitals, care homes and people’s own homes.

But is it any wonder that such concerns exist given the dynamics of publicly funded social care provision in this country? Confronted with rising demographic pressures and reductions in funding, many local authorities have used their leverage as the dominant market players to force down prices and commission care more flexibly. This, in turn, has compelled providers to seek ways of maximising the flexibility of their workforce and reducing spending on wages.

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To the Point - Protecting our workers

Date: 3. June 2013
Vidhya Alakeson

This post originally appeared on the Nursery World blog

Last week, the Department for Education released analysis suggesting that relaxing ratios would reduce the cost of childcare for parents by 28 per cent. In my column last month, I suggested that the Government must effectively be spending the same money twice if it was saying it could raise quality and cut prices at the same time. So, having seen reports of the Department for Education analysis suggesting I had been wrong, I had to take another look.

Of course, cheaper childcare without a loss of quality would be welcome news for cash-strapped parents. But the sad reality is that it is only possible because childcare workers are so poorly paid and becoming more qualified does not earn you very much more money. 


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social care elderly

The scandal of low-paid care workers

Date: 22. December 2011
Gavin Kelly and Joe Coward

This post originally appeared on the New Statesman blog

A friend who is a care worker employed by an agency has a moan to me about her work. Repeated 15 minute slots with a client followed by a frantic dash to another part of the city she lives in to do the same again. Care in a hurry, on the cheap. Welcome to home care for growing numbers in Britain: some of our most vulnerable people cared for by a growing number of overly stretched and underpaid workers.

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