Zero hours working ‘forcing people into poverty’ warns MP

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden
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Workers in Blackpool could be being forced into poverty because of the impact of zero hours contracts, one of the resort’s MPs has warned.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsdenbelieves there are many workers in the resort employed on the contracts whereby people agree to be available for work as and when they are required.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) has calculated up to four per cent of workers nationally, or about a million people, are on the contracts.

While there are no firm figures available for the numbers employed in this way in Blackpool, Mr Marsden believes it masks the true level of unemployment.

The MP, who is also Shadow Minister for Further Education, Skills and Regional Growth, said: “This is an alarming report from the CIPD who have a very good reputation.

“We have to be very careful to distinguish between seasonal working and a zero hours contract.

“People on zero contracts are in a no-mans land because they cannot claim benefits so it is something else which can contribute to poverty.

“If there are a significant number of people in Blackpool on these contracts, then that will mean the unemployment figures are even more optimistic than I have believed.

“I will be looking for a regional breakdown of the figures to see just what the impact is.

“It is not necessarily all in the private sector, the statistics show it is a public sector issue as well.”

Some unions have called for zero hours contracts to be banned.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison union, said: “The vast majority of workers are only on these contracts because they have no choice.

“They may give flexibility to a few, but the balance of power favours the employers and makes it hard for workers to complain.”

Despite the controversy over their use, just 16 per cent of those affected said their employer often fails to provide them with sufficient hours.

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