Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Clause 2 - Personal allowance for 2013-14 for those born after 5 April 1948

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 23rd April 2013.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sheila Gilmore Sheila Gilmore Labour, Edinburgh East 2:30 pm, 23rd April 2013

My hon. Friend is right to highlight that, because many people have taken reduced hours and reduced wages to stay in work and they are also experiencing severe difficulties with living standards. Because most of my audience on the Government Benches did not hear this last week, I will describe again the sorts of jobs that are available in Edinburgh. One of my constituents wanted to work a few extra hours to pay his bedroom tax. He did not choose his two-bedroom home, but that is what he has; it is in a high-rise block. He works 15 hours a week for a supermarket. He asked for more hours but they said no. That may have been because 15 hours a week on minimum wage is below national insurance level and it would be easier to employ two people than give him more hours. If he were offered more hours, I suspect somebody else would get fewer.

I then thought about other jobs my constituent might be able to get in the area. I went on to the Government’s new universal job match website. I do not know whether anybody else here has looked at it. I typed in “Edinburgh” and “shop assistant”, as that is what he is. I got quite excited. I was going to phone him and tell him it claimed to have 100 jobs, although it was only 76 as the last page only had one on it. There were 76 jobs he could apply for—fantastic. Fifty-seven of those 76 jobs under the heading of shop assistant, most not in Edinburgh but in the surrounding area, were for self-employed catalogue distributors and sellers. If those are the kind of private sector jobs that have been created, we have to ask some serious questions. There was a warning that the person would be self-employed, would have to pay for transport and £250 up front to start work. That is the reality that a lot of people face.

My constituency—and city—is not one with the highest unemployment in the country. It is not an unemployment blackspot. In Scottish terms it is seen, after Aberdeen, as one of the more prosperous parts. Yet even there the jobs simply are not available. If the jobs that are there are like the ones I described they are not going to give someone such as my constituent the living wage that he needs.

If we are not boosting the economy, if we are not taking measures to stimulate the economy, it is not surprising that growth is stagnating and the deficit not reducing. I can see lots of activity across the room. I suspect hon. Members are all looking up universal job match to prove me wrong. That would be interesting.  When I told my hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Yvonne Fovargue) about it, she looked up her area and discovered to her horror that it was exactly the same. She thought I might have been slightly exaggerating.

If we want to know what is happening and to look at what effect the rise in the tax allowance has compared to other measures that have been and are being taken, we need a review. I strongly urge hon. Members to agree to the amendment and to have the review. As I said earlier, if the Government are right and we are wrong, they will be only too pleased to tell us so.