Labour, as we know, has been struggling to come up with coherent alternatives to the Tory measures, but there is a plan published in the Observer. It would restore the link between contributions and benefits by paying newly out of work people up to 70% of their previous salaries for up to 6 months (with a cap of £200 a week). The downside is that the extra would be repayable when the person returned to work. I'm not sure how that would work if you got a minimum wage job and needed tax credits. What do you think?
And talking of the minimum wage, there are estimates that anything between 100,000 and half a million workers are receiving less than minimum wage, according to the Independent. They list a whole raft of scams by which this is done, including deducting money for clothing or benefits in kind; not paying for travel time between sites (something which is common for care workers); and paying piece rates rather than an hourly rate. The article asks why so few prosecutions have occurred for this - just 8 in the 13 years of the MW's existence - and says that Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, is now taking the issue seriously. Let's hope so. But what happens when someone who is unemployed takes one of these jobs before discovering the truth, that it doesn't meet MW? Can they leave it without being punished?