back to article MPs draft bill to close loopholes used by 'sharing economy' employers

A draft UK law bill intended to close loopholes in so-called "gig economy" employment practices has been published today by Parliament's Work and Pensions and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committees. The joint report and draft bill is intended to address the use bogus "self-employment" status as a route to …

  1. Frenchie Lad

    More Info Please

    It would 'elp to have some details on the proposals.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More Info Please

      This benefits workers, so expect the Tories to block it.

      1. Richard Jones 1
        Meh

        Re: More Info Please Or What's it Really All About

        @AC, does it benefit all workers? Those with highly changeable private demands, students, pin money workers, etc. have been cited as needing and welcoming very flexible arrangements. If this draft idea turns out to be draft and not daft as is the case with so many bills, it could be welcomed. The heavy emphasis on tax payments (and NI?) suggests a different agenda. With the tax threshold rising, many part time workers normally remain below the tax thresholds and maybe the NI ones as well anyway. Otherwise it could turn into a loss of worker's favoured flexibility plus a demand for taxes, which might well show the law of unintended(?) consequences is alive and still flourishing to the unexpected detriment of those it allegedly sought to serve.

        On the other hand those casual workers moonlighting from other 'real economy jobs' might be the real target of this fishing trip, in which case perhaps they should be brought within the tax net.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Flexible arrangements should be the exception, not the norm

          Sure, there are some people whose life don't wholly depend on the money they earn from their work, and just look for a part time job to get the money for some leisure expenditures.

          But when the same approach is fully and forcefully applied to people who need a full job to build a life and take care of them and their families, and it used because it takes away any responsibilities from their employers, and put the full burden of their welfare expenses on other workers whose wages are not so high, it becomes, yes, a disruptive force, in the sense it cripples the whole society and turn the clock back to an era of serfs paid peanuts and wealthy people fully exploiting them - with very little hopes to raise from the former to the latter.

          We've seen it all before - are we really sure we want to get back there?

          1. Bill M

            Re: Flexible arrangements should be the exception, not the norm

            Typo corrected :

            Sure, there are some people whose life don't wholly depend on the money they earn from their work, and just look for a part time job to get the money for food and heating.

          2. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Flexible arrangements should be the exception, not the norm

            We've seen it all before - are we really sure we want to get back there?

            People like Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, Ian Duncan Smith and John Redwood are on record as saying they want to use Brexit to scrap the social chapter and reduce employee protections, so I think you might be able to guess which century they want us serfs to be living in.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Flexible arrangements should be the exception, not the norm

              Priti Patel also exploited the immigration-phobic Brexit bandwagon while at the same time arguing for *more* immigration from the Indian subcontinent on the spurious excuse that Britain had older ties with that part of the world. (#) Which- oddly coincidentally- is her own ethnic background and was used to increase support for Brexit in sections of the Asian community.

              The kneejerk Little Englanders who weren't paying attention to this deserve no sympathy. Equally, nor will those who thought they could exploit the Brexit to promote their own ethnic self interest if it backfires (i.e. if the former gets wind of what the latter are trying to do).

              While we're here, let's also remember that everyone's "favourite" self-promoting inventor, James Dyson- who shut his factory in the UK around 15 years ago and now manufacturers his products in south-east Asia but is still treated as a national hero- also supported "Leave" and campaigned for the reduction of employment protections and scrapping of corporation tax. In short, just another hard-right Tory.

              Remember that the next time you buy a Made-in-Malaysia Dyson vacuum cleaner.

              I have no sympathy for those who voted for Brexit without noticing- or caring- that it was blatantly driven by these types of people, the ones who want to ditch social protections and turn Britain into a low-tax, low-rent economy. That's what you voted for, and that's what you're getting. They deserve to be (metaphorically) hit ruthlessly with the consequences of their own ignorant stupidity.

              Unfortunately, the rest of us will suffer for this as well.

              (#) There are many Tories who still- clearly- think that the relationship between Britain and India et al is still as it was at the end of Empire, that it's still a friendly community of equals, without realising that they were the school bully who is no longer in a position of power, but still with delusions that they're looked upon more fondly than is the case. Particularly now that it's no longer the 1940s and the balance of power has shifted and rests more with those approx 1.5 billion people a lot more than it does with Little England and Its Provinicial Chums. They are in for a shock.

              1. LDS Silver badge
                Joke

                "that Britain had older ties with that part of the world"

                Yes, you see that from those Shakespeare works like the Merchant of Mumbai, Julius Ceasaresh, and the prototype of every Bollywood movie, Romeo Ashok and Juliet Patel. Or when he writes "Something is rotten in the state of Punjab"....

                Even Beowulf was known for its Sanskrit poem, and Grendel was of course hidden in the Indian forest.

                But I guess the Indian caste system matches very well the British one...

        2. Gordan

          Re: More Info Please Or What's it Really All About

          This relates relatively closely to the "lump of labour" fallacy.

          The reality is that two things will happen:

          1) A non-trivial fraction of the work currently done by people on 0-hour contracts will end up not being done at all because the net productivity isn't worth the cost of complying with extra regulatory requirements.

          2) The remainder that does get done will end up being done by larger suppliers of such services with fewer employees for whom they have enough work to keep at full utilisation.

          The net result is that larger business will squeeze smaller ones out of the market, and those who end up not getting one of those full time contracts with a larger supplier are going to end up on the dole and increase the burden on the state.

          In other words, while it sounds like socialism for the worse off individuals it is actually corporate socialism helping only bigger businesses by reducing competition.

          It's the same reason why big business generally supports extra regulatory requirements because they can afford to implement the required compliance, whereas for an upstart the burden of extra regulations means they are unable to grow to become a competitor.

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: More Info Please

      Try here:

      https://mobile.twitter.com/frankfieldteam?lang=en

      which links to the Guardian article, or here which links to the reports but you may need a subscription:

      https://www.ft.com/content/8ece44d8-cd15-11e7-9dbb-291a884dd8c6

    3. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: More Info Please

      "It would 'elp to have some details on the proposals"

      The draft Bill is allegedly now on Parliament's website:

      http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2017/future-of-work-report-17-19/

  2. bex

    Yes and hell no

    The whole point of zero hour contracts is for well-paid professionals who work as a limited company, not for minimum wage workers where there are zero benefits.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes and hell no

      If they want to kill off zero hours contracts, make employers pay available-but-unworked hours payable to the employee at some statutory minimum "availability rate", essentially a mandatory on-call allowance. I'd suggest around a quid an hour would be enough to do it. That still enables companies to have flexibility, but it means that flexibility doesn't come at such a cost to the welfare state, and encourages employers to have contracts that reflect their needs, rather than shifting the risk and burden on to employees.

      As for well paid professionals, they are clever enough to sort themselves out - even if this applied to them, a quid an hour is going to be trivial in the grand scheme of their employment costs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes and hell no

      "The whole point of zero hour contracts is for well-paid professionals who work as a limited company, not for minimum wage workers where there are zero benefits."

      And yet look what they are doing with IR35. If you think this is for purposes of anything but a tax grab from employers and pushing small suppliers out of the market in favour of big consultancies you are sadly deluded.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes and hell no

      "Not for minimum wage workers where there are zero benefits".

      Oh, there are loads of benefits to it. For the employers.

    4. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: Yes and hell no

      No.

      Zero hour contracts are EMPLOYMENT contracts.

      Contractors working through a limited company are already employees of their own companies the arrangement between them and a client is B2B.

      Zero hour contracts are nothing to do with contractors working through a limited company.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "a new presumption of "worker by default" that would require companies to provide basic safety-net standards of rights and benefits to their workers, or prove that their working practices are genuinely reflecting of self-employment."

    Ah, so now we know why the "default" outcome of so many test on the HMRC IR35 testing tool is "Employed" - They were planning to use it for all these gig economy "jobs" too... so the presumption is "employed"

    Anon 'cos employed by PSC ltd ;-)

    1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

      More or less what I was going to say.

      They do love IR35, don't they. Capita must be spending a fortune on lobbyists...

    2. d3vy Silver badge

      "Anon 'cos employed by PSC ltd"

      Well you see theres part of the problem. Can you show me a legal definition of PSC?

      I too am a contractor running my own limited company, in contrast I fight the label PSC at every opportunity as I am not running a personal services company, I'm just running a company, most of the time it's just me, but that's not always the case. Accepting the label PSC is to accept the negative connotations that HMRC and others have attached to this.

  4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    We say that companies should pay higher wages when they are asking people to work extra hours or on zero-hours contracts.

    Actually that by itself should do it. Make the minimum pay to be 2x statutory minimum on zero hour contracts as well as any overtime up to a full 37.5 hour week on part time ones. I suspect that they will not have the guts to do that though (*).

    Top this up by prohibition of any contractual relationship between a company and self-employed at tax level. Only physical persons can employ a self employed which is not registered as a company or at least sole trader. You want to be "self employed" which works for Uber - fine, company house, LTD and proper accounting please. Nothing personal, just business - I am paying a 5 digit sum in taxes and NI per year and while I am happy for this to go to people who are in need, any ideas that it should pad scumbags like Uber or Delvieroo bottom lines is off the menu.

    This will sort the whole Gig Economy/Sports Direct situation overnight.

    (*)Time to get on "write to them" and send a Christmas card to my MP on this subject I guess

    1. iron Silver badge

      This would have repercussions in other industries that you are not expecting. Many charities use support workers on zero hour contracts for various valid reasons. Your suggestion would cripple charities with greatly increased labour costs and be detrimental to the care of the disabled and other vulnerable groups.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Your suggestion would cripple charities with greatly increased labour costs and be detrimental to the care of the disabled and other vulnerable groups.

        I'm with Voland's, in principle, although not necessarily on the specific figures. There are ways of implementing this that could enable (say) charities to be exempt, and with the Charities Commission given powers to suspend this for specific charities if they find that any are abusing the exemption. Charities have always had different tax arrangements, so this isn't a big deal.

        1. batfink Bronze badge

          Choose your "Charity" carefully

          Hmmm. Exempting Charities in general sounds like a good idea, until you start looking at some of the money-making organisations registered as Charities. The big-name UK universities, for example, or even the private school up my street, which IMO should be regarded as a business like any other.

          But anyway - the argument about what should be a charity doesn't deduct from your point.

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Many charities use support workers on zero hour contracts for various valid reasons. Your suggestion would cripple charities with greatly increased labour costs and be detrimental to the care of the disabled and other vulnerable groups.

        1. As Ledswinger said there is no reason not to give charities an exemption.

        2. Caring for the groups you have mentioned is a blatant example of zero-hours abuse in the marketplace. If you have 30 disabled you as a charity are taking care on a council ward, the time it took this week is not going to be drastically different from the time it takes next week. The only time it changes are medical emergencies and in that case it actually goes down as NHS takes over.

        The only reason the care worker taking care of that is employed on a zero hour contract is exactly that - convenience and ensuring that he/she continues to get the 7.36£ average hourly pay for a care worker at 40 the same way he/she did at 20 (this is according to national statistics for UK). Excuse me for being blunt, but as far as hypocrisy goes that is possibly on par with Mike Ashley - you are in a position to offer a proper job, you have the proper work, the work is pretty much nailed to an exact number of hours per week and you deliberately screw the worker who actually does the work. On top of that you try to climb on an even higher soap box than Uber and you beat yourself in the chest about being charitable and public morals.

        Bleurgh... excuse me while I retch, and frankly I am not sure about the exemption on charitable organizations.

        1. The Nazz Silver badge

          re Charities

          re Voland's point 1. As Ledswinger said there is no reason not to give charities an exemption.

          Oh yes there is.

          The local sports organisation around here is a registered charity and not,as one would expect a council run organisation which its name would imply.. With twenty or so physical facilities, and likely hundreds of staff*, they have a substantial revenue and wages bill. They must have some overriding reason for being a charity.

          Why on earth should they be exempt from operating PAYE and paying Employers NHI?

          *As well as some who are deemed to be "self employed" but are clearly under full control of the organisation as to what work to do, when to do it, and precisely how to do it. Borderline tax avoidance.

          And no doubt, 1000's more are of the same type.

          Take a traditional charity, one of the big ones. Oxfam, Help the Aged, et al. I don't know the fine detail but many nowadays pay top salaries upto and exceeding six figures. Why should that be tax and NHI free?

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: re Charities

            Most charities are, in effect, businesses. They employ professional fundraisers, own shops, etc. Altogether this already leads to a fairly hefty market distortions. The exemptions should either go or the definition should be tightened up and more effectively enforced.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: re Charities

              "Most charities are, in effect, businesses. They employ professional fundraisers, own shops, etc."

              Working (actually volunteering) in the charity sector I can say that that is complete and utter bullshit.

              Let me update it for you.

              ""A few large charities are, in effect, businesses. They employ professional fundraisers, own shops, etc.".

              We run a "shop" (actually a cafe) and every single penny goes into running the cafe, employing a whole two people and a dedicated youth worker for all the other work. The other 30 odd people don't get paid a penny.

              Are we distorting the market? Well until we existed, there was not another single cafe in the area, let alone youth facilities. Now there are three cafes, the other two run for profit.

              Still if you prefer you money to go to Starbucks, feel free, we won't stop you.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: re Charities

                "Working (actually volunteering) in the charity sector"

                Volunteering isn't the same as zero hours.

                "employing a whole two people and a dedicated youth worker for all the other work."

                How are these people employed? It sounds is if they're regular employees.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: re Charities

                  "How are these people employed? It sounds is if they're regular employees."

                  We used to employ several people on zero hours. It was their choice.

                  They wanted to pick and choose their hours, one due to childcare, one was a student, so sometimes didn't want to work for a week or two if they had a big assignment on, or just wanted a few days off, one was semi-retired and theother just wanted the flexibilty.

                  We actually stopped it, not because it was "evil" but it actually caused us far more problems staffing wise. People get themselves that "all zero hours must be banned" mentality, but for some, it is what they want.

                  The problems arise when it is the ONLY option, not a chosen option.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: re Charities

                @LDS

                Just because you're working for free doesn't make it any less of a business.

        2. d3vy Silver badge

          "As Ledswinger said there is no reason not to give charities an exemption."

          Yes there is.

          As with tax law the more exemptions and sub rules you put in there the easier it is to find a loophole.

          Keep it simple, or it rapidly descends into a mess of explotation.

      3. Naselus

        "Many charities use support workers on zero hour contracts for various valid reasons. "

        It's funny how, whenever this statement comes up, no-one can ever specify what the 'valid reasons' ever are. Just like whenever the 'people who appreciate the flexibility of zero-hours contracts' are mentioned, no-one can ever find a real-life person it applies to outside of the local Young Conservatives chapter.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          " no-one can ever specify what the 'valid reasons' ever are. Just like whenever the 'people who appreciate the flexibility of zero-hours contracts' are mentioned, "

          "McDonald’s is offering UK staff on zero-hours contracts the option of moving to fixed hours in a major development in the debate about employee rights."......"About 80% of workers in the trial elected to stay on zero hours; of those who took up the fixed-hours option, three of five went for the maximum of 30 hours."

          I'd say from that many people are happy with zero hours (students are often quoted as prime examples). However as shown here, it should be the ONLY option.

          https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/15/mcdonalds-offer-staff-the-chance-to-get-off-zero-hours-contracts

        2. d3vy Silver badge

          "people who appreciate the flexibility of zero-hours contracts"

          /Me waves.

          My partner works a zero hours contract. She requested it because it gives her the flexibility to turn down work if she needs to or to pick up extra time when it's needed/available.

          This means that now over Xmas she is working more or less full time but can reduce that to a few hours a week (if at all) during school holidays.

          Obviously this isn't for everyone, the main reason it works for us is that I have a decent income and can support the four of us if needed, which I appreciate isn't the case for most people on zero hours contracts.

          Just wanted to make the point, some people do appreciate zero hour contracts.

    2. Zippy's Sausage Factory

      Just a reminder that the world's biggest charity is actually IKEA.

      And that they're a charity for tax reasons.

      I'm not saying there aren't genuine charities, just that we have to be careful...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is where government is useless.

    MP's own shares and get paid as shareholders.

    The companies using this are the ones probably paying the MP's.

    Nobody votes to reduce income.

    Outcome, nothing changes.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "MP's own shares and get paid as shareholders.

      The companies using this are the ones probably paying the MP's."

      Leaving aside the double use of a grocer's apostrophe what are you actually saying here?

      Are you claiming that MPs, instead of being paid a parliamentary salary, are using personal service companies to get paid? If so what's your evidence for this?

      Or is this a belief in some great conspiracy where only a few powerful people own all the shares and run the economy accordingly? If so then you should be aware that shareholding is a great deal more widespread than you think. Are you a member of a company pension scheme? Then, indirectly, you are a share holder. Do you have a personal pension or a life insurance scheme? Then you are a shareholder. Or almost any other form of savings? Does your employer have an employee share scheme?

      1. Naselus

        In fairness, there's quite a lot of MPs who are indeed direct shareholders (or hold directorships) for public services companies, as can be found through a quick scan of the register of interests (https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/standards-and-financial-interests/parliamentary-commissioner-for-standards/registers-of-interests/register-of-members-financial-interests/).

        It's far from all MPs, though; the word 'shareholdings' appears 124 times, which equates to about 1 in 5 MPs. That covers any holding of over 15% of a company, or valued at over £70k. There may be others with rather more small-time holdings.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    gig economy workers appreciated the employment flexibility

    yeah, like you'd appreciate a bullet to the head, v. slow-frying chair...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: gig economy workers appreciated the employment flexibility

      do you, donvoters live ON THIS PLANET?! Do you really believe that majority of those 40K ueber drivers just pined for the f... "employment flexibility", dreamed for years about the time they can leave their cushy 9-5s tesco till and halleluiah - their calls were answered by those "sharing" genius minds behind ueber and other shite (which parasite on original, genuine _sharing_ ideas that came up several years ago.

      Yeah, SOME of those on "flexible" employment do earn more than they used to, but there's a cost to themselves, and I don't mean just money (never mind the taxman, f... the taxman, it's the i-times we live in).

      And to claim gig workers "appreciate" employment flexibility is the same as banks to claim their punters appreciate the convenience of online banking, hurrah for online and mobile banking! Yes, they do appreciate it, since the f... banks closed down their f... branches to save themselves the f... cost! And this is exactly the same and ONLY reason for "gig" economy to exist - to save the owners costs related to employment that are then passed on to the average Joe (as the state has less money to burn, but also to use wisely, like on social care).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: gig economy workers appreciated the employment flexibility

        To quote a well known loser, calm down dear.

        You rant won't change a thing.

  7. alain williams Silver badge

    Flexible working

    The meme seems to be that the only way to get flexible working hours is by being self employed. This is rubbish. There is no reason why you cannot be employed (maybe with more than one employer) and also have flexible hours; it should not really be much more difficult for the employer to manage.

    Workers benefits (holidays, etc) are then pro-rata on the number of days actually worked in the last year (or something similar).

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Flexible working

      The only point that the gig economy likes "flexible working hours" is that this provides a direct mechanism for reducing wages: employees effectively have to compete for tricks.

      If they get a chance there'll be something like Get Laid for prostitutes…

  8. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

    The what?

    > Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed

    Really? Would be interesting to know exactly who or what pays the bills for such a grand name, as it doubtful whether the average deliverooer pays membership.

    Perhaps in this age of corporate lobbying and dodgy think thanks, instead of "citation needed", the call should be "full statement of accounts needed."

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The what?

      "Really? Would be interesting to know exactly who or what pays the bills for such a grand name"

      AFAIK it's what used to be the PCG. I don't know why they came up with such a daft rebranding (except that most rebrandings are daft); I'd given up my membership when I retired so wasn't a party to that discussion able to pour copious contempt on it. But, in answer to your question: its members.

      1. FlossyThePig

        Re: The what?

        except that most rebrandings are daft

        I am a deaf old fart so wanted to check out the RNID (Royal National Institute for the Deaf), they are now "Action on Hearing Loss".

        RNIB is still used but the abbreviation now stands for Royal National Institute for Blind People.

    2. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: The what?

      "Really? Would be interesting to know exactly who or what pays the bills for such a grand name"

      Many contractors are members as the IPSE offer legal advice and other servives to... Well independent professionals and the self employed.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best solution ...

    ... universal income, universal taxation, no minimum wage, massive reduction in red tape (especially huge delays in benefits starting/stopping/resizing).

    Then THE MARKET sets the rate at which people participate in the gig economy or any other casual work. That is really the only way to set it at the correct value. The alternatives are let-the-poor-starve anarcho-capitalism or socialist command-economy market distortions.

    In my opinion we need just enough socialism to care for people and absolutely no more. You can try to do that with a huge, inefficient benefits (and tax) system bureaucracy, constantly sliding allowances and benefits (and never managing to do so fast enough). Or you could solve the system properly, with universal income: give people (just) enough to stay alive, fed, warm and well --- and let the invisible hand of the market do everything else.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Best solution ...

      I was with you until you said "universal income".

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: Best solution ...

        The thing I notice about people who are so anti-UI is they never seem able to come up with a viable alternative. "We can't have UI as it rewards people for doing nothing" as opposed to the current system of shaming people for having nothing to do? The fact is we have a welfare system for a reason. It's so families don't starve to death. Coming from the north east I'm more acutely aware of the Jarrow Marchers than most but please, look it up. And stop reading the Daily Mail, the unemployed aren't spending your tax money on holidays to Ibiza while you slave away like a North Korean factory worker.

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: Best solution ...

          We don't have people with nothing to do. We are at full employment.

          Just because I have more sensible political ideas than giving out literally hundreds of billions of pounds a year for people to do nothing doesn't mean I read the Daily Mail.

          That seems to be the go-to insult for you people. You disagree with my stupid idea or my misunderstanding of the situation, then you must read the Mail. Get a grip.

          ( I read The Times. I wouldn't wipe my arse with your copy of the Guardian - the Daily Mail of the left ).

          1. Alien8n Silver badge

            Re: Best solution ...

            We are certainly NOT at full employment. Stop spouting ideological BS Tory propaganda. There are currently officially 1.49 million unemployed. Add to that figure the long term sick, disabled, in education, in training and of course the sanctioned and that adds a considerable number on top of that 1.49 million.

            And my argument still stands, you've given no viable alternative to UI, unless your position is the current system is better. In which case state that you think the current system is better.

            Or would you prefer no welfare system at all, every unemployed for themselves, let them find work or starve to death without a safety net? While we're at it lets send small children back up chimneys and reintroduce Smallpox to keep the numbers of poor people in check.

            My point is this, just because a system has never been tried in the UK doesn't make it shit. It may actually be the case that UI is the best way to solve poverty worldwide. I don't know, it's still being trialled in other countries, so it's too early to throw it out. The one thing I do know is this government isn't making anything better, they're responsible for thousands of preventable deaths by introducing draconian policies that demonise the sick, disabled, and unemployed.

            1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

              Re: Best solution ...

              I didn't give you an alternative because the stupidity of what you said distracted me from doing so.

              Firstly, we are at full employment. 4.2% (if I remember correctly) unemployment is roughly zero when accounting for people who are literally between jobs. Lost one, will get another next week, that sort of thing.

              You then imply that sick and disabled is a scam to reduce unemployment, but then in the very same sentence, point out that people are being sanctioned to get them off the states teat.

              "In education" has never counted toward unemployment. Are you suggesting it should not. Should we push kids down the dole office at age 5? Do away with that useless book learning? They should be down the pits like their great-great-grandad was at their age.

              The better system to UI is broadly what we have now. A safety net that provides for people who are temporarily out of work, provides for those who are unable to work due to disability and an old age pension to provide for those who are too old to work. Housing benefit to make sure that we don't have any (excluding addicts and the insane who throw away chance after chance ) homelessness at all.

              You can argue around the edges, say we should spend more on disability benefits or change the rules for housing benefit or whatever, but throwing out the system because you don't like some of the variables is pathetic.

              Universal income would do many things, none of them positive. It would give too much to those who don't need it or it would give too little to people who do need it - are you going to replace housing benefit and disability benefit with UI? It's going to be a large payment to everybody in the country, isn't it?

              So you've got a bill of literally hundreds of billions, including giving hundreds of pounds per week to people who currently receive no cash from the government at all.

              Hundreds of billions of pounds. How much do we have to increase taxes by? Well we'd have to do away with the personal allowance and raise the 20% rate significantly.

              But I'm guessing that you think it's fine - we'll just soak the rich. Those fuckers are always avoiding tax and murdering babies, or whatever. The rich just don't have that much money - even if they were inclined to allow your hypothetical government to take it all. They'd bugger straight off to the nearest airport.

              And then after that, who would start a business? Well everybody would be a dog groomer or a window cleaner for a bit of extra cash. But I mean who would borrow and take a big risk trying to make themselves a lot of money? Say building a factory? What's the point? The state's just going to steal all your profits anyway.

              It's not really being trialled. It got a few weeks in (I think Finland ) with a tiny population of people. It was an academic study, not a test by a government to see whether or not it should bankrupt itself. There was also a study in California with private money. The same again - no policy implications.

              Who's saying send babies up chimneys? You're the one suggesting that education not being counted towards unemployment is a statistical fudge.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Best solution ...

                Unemployment figures are a scam perpetuated by governments of all sides to hide the true figure. The long term sick and disabled are rightly not classed as unemployed, and rightly so, but not counting stay at home parents of school age children is completely wrong.

                1. DavCrav Silver badge

                  Re: Best solution ...

                  "Unemployment figures are a scam perpetuated by governments of all sides to hide the true figure. The long term sick and disabled are rightly not classed as unemployed, and rightly so, but not counting stay at home parents of school age children is completely wrong."

                  I love it when people who don't know what they are talking about opine about things. This is why we are in so much trouble as a society: everyone has an opinion, and people think their opinions should be treated seriously.

                  There are multiple unemployment figures. Depending on what you are looking at, you want to consider different things. Full employment is defined as 'everyone who wants a job at the current wage rate has one'. It's normally modified slightly to include a small amount of unemployment caused by people changing job, and there's also seasonal unemployment to worry about. Full unemployment means no 'structural unemployment', i.e., long-term unemployed.

                  Casting the net wider, we can include people who do not want a job at the current wage rate, either because they are currently doing other activity that is not counted as economic activity, usually caring for the young or old or disabled, that would cost more than they would receive in payment at the current wage rate, or because they are able to support themselves without working, usually by taking money off their partner or parents. If you offered them a job at £1m/hour they would probably take it, but nobody is likely to do that, so they are not employed right now. They count as 'economically inactive'. This includes, depending on how you feel, the retired, children, the severely disabled, and so on.

                  The old example of someone marrying their housekeeper shows why what you are talking about is much more subtle than you seem to think: if someone marries their housekeeper, GDP drops, even though the same activity takes place, and in fact the household is richer as a result. The housekeeper becomes 'economically inactive', although they were just as busy as they were before.

                  Or it's 'a scam perpetuated by governments of all sides to hide the true figure'. You of course know the real truth.

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Best solution ...

                "not a test by a government to see whether or not it should bankrupt itself."

                Given what's happened around the world in the last year or so I wouldn't bet against this happening somewhere.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Best solution ...

            "Just because I have more sensible political ideas than giving out literally hundreds of billions of pounds a year for people to do nothing "

            People in work are already "given" huge amounts of money. Tax allowances mean you don't pay tax on all of your income. Tax credits mean that low paying work is topped up by the states. Benefits are paid to those with no income. But umpty billions of pounds is spent of several different bureaucracy that (mis)manage all this, moving at a speed that barely keeps pace with normal employment, let alone the gig economy.

            UI is just a more sensible way of doing it. Nobody is thinking of setting UI at a level where it would be sensible for someone to think "hey, I might as well not do anything" for exactly the same reason we don't set the benefit levels that high.

            Remember EVERYONE gets UI, including those in work. Maybe your between jobs neighbour is getting 1000 a month to survive, but you are getting that ON TOP of your salary; you aren't forgoing UI because you've got a job, so nobody is being "paid to do nothing" --- everyone is just receiving a very limited safety net.

            1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

              Re: Best solution ...

              Either its enough to live on ( and enough for the disabled to live on, and those who can't afford a home to pay their rent with ), or it's pointless.

              If it's going to be big enough for that, then it's unaffordable.

              The tax allowance isn't a handout. It's progressive taxation. By that logic, the 80% tax the state doesn't collect after £12.5k is a handout too. It's not.

              I'm not arguing that everybody would sit around doing nothing voluntarily. But I am arguing that a system that would be worth implementing would be so unaffordable that it would be impossible to implement.

            2. d3vy Silver badge

              Re: Best solution ...

              "Nobody is thinking of setting UI at a level where it would be sensible for someone to think "hey, I might as well not do anything" for exactly the same reason we don't set the benefit levels that high."

              While I agree with most of what you say I need to point out that the above is not entirely accurate (though it does reinforce your point about missing management of the benefits system)

              It is entirely possible for an unskilled workers to currently recovering more on benefits than if they work in a low paying job.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Best solution ...

          The thing I notice about people who are so anti-UI is they never seem able to come up with a viable alternative. "We can't have UI as it rewards people for doing nothing"

          There's an alternative view: why are you proposing to pay money to people who don't need it? By the time you've clawed it back in tax* you'll end up just where you started give or take a few edge cases who'll be better off under one version than the other. Don't suppose that you'll save on bureaucracy**, that never decreases; you'll probably find at least as many people involved in handing out the UI and probably a few more employed to to the clawing back.

          *If you don't claw it back you run into the other problem - finding the magic money tree.

          **If, by some miracle, you do you'll have put them out of work - was increasing unemployment an objective?

        3. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Best solution ...

          "The thing I notice about people who are so anti-UI is they never seem able to come up with a viable alternative. "We can't have UI as it rewards people for doing nothing" as opposed to the current system of shaming people for having nothing to do?"

          I'm anti-UBI. I don't need to come up with an alternative to it, because we are currently living in one. The problem with UBI is that it doesn't do anything it's supposed to. It won't reduce red tape, unless you set the universal benefits high enough so that severely disabled people can live on it, so let's say £400/week? OK, then that's £1.2tn/year. At £160/week (UK pension), which won't pay for housing, and therefore will lead to homelessness, if not actual starvation, it still costs £500bn/year. Tweaking the tax system and minimum wages won't generate that sort of money.

          So in conclusion, it cannot be paid for, won't reduce administration, and won't free people from having to work. Well done, slow hand clap there.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Best solution ...

            Are you being deliberately obtuse? You wouldn't set UI at the level required by severely disabled people - you would create a safety net level for everyone and then those with exceptional circumstances would get extra benefits.

            1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

              Re: Best solution ...

              Ha. Even better!

              So you don't even lose the bureaucracy of the welfare state!

              1. d3vy Silver badge

                Re: Best solution ...

                "Ha. Even better!

                So you don't even lose the bureaucracy of the welfare state!"

                Simplify not remove.

                You could all but remove the DWP with this suggestion.

            2. DavCrav Silver badge

              Re: Best solution ...

              "Are you being deliberately obtuse? You wouldn't set UI at the level required by severely disabled people - you would create a safety net level for everyone and then those with exceptional circumstances would get extra benefits."

              Are you being deliberately illiterate? I said at £160/wk, i.e., standard pension, it's still unaffordable, and at that rate you still cannot live off it if you want to be housed. So, we cannot afford it at that level, and it wouldn't prevent homelessness. And we get all of the admin involved with extra benefits anyway, so, and I want to make it absolutely clear here, so I will use capital letters, THIS SAVES NO MONEY.

              Touting UBI as saving money on admin when all the groups that currently get benefits would need a top up anyway means that there's no admin saved, just a massive amount of money moving from people's pockets to government and then back again. It's utterly mindless, unless you are going to tax capital instead of labour. But you can do that anyway, and just pass it on as increased benefits and a (very small) universal handout, without changing our current system.

              The reason it's never been tried on a large scale before is that a subsistence-level UBI is stupid. Everybody who can add up knows it's stupid, and if you don't think it's stupid, either you haven't sat down and worked out how it would work, or you cannot add up, or, I'm afraid, you are stupid.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hate filled rant

    May is in a pickle. She read out her school essays about being good and helping everyone happy in the knowledge she didn't really mean any of it but has now been backed into a corner of her own making with her idiotic election wheeze last summer.

  11. quattroprorocked

    I run a business that competes

    with these "gig economy/zero hours" types.

    They are shafting cowboys. It makes it very difficult for us more ethical types to treat people properly.

    Any competently managed organisation should be able to plan and schedule their staff and pay them properly. End of.

    1. Death_Ninja

      Re: I run a business that competes

      Trouble is, these days, people see these ultra-race to the bottom sorts of business model as the "new idea".

      Ultimately though, the race to the bottom game has an ultimate bottom level... no, not that its impossible to cut costs any more, but that eventually when everyone has taken part in this game things actually fall apart in a much wider sense than your own business.

      Its short termism. They think they are being clever and making a fast buck, but ultimately it will crash the system. Where is the market for your goods and services when nobody has the money to buy them?

      I suppose that is the end game of capitalism (it will eat itself) and actually what will be needed to correct that is socialism.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: I run a business that competes

        The assumption that capitalism will eat itself was alway the hope of the Marx's of the world. It's hopelessly naive though.

        If wages or conditions are terrible working for Uber, people will leave. If people like the flexibility of spending an hour after work making a few extra beer tokens and they see it as worth it, they'll do it.

        The best thing about capitalism is that all of this is voluntary.

        1. strum Silver badge

          Re: I run a business that competes

          >If wages or conditions are terrible working for Uber, people will leave

          Where to? Many of them have committed to the purchase of a snazzy new car. They can go back to working for a local minicab outfit - but that doesn't have much of a future either.

          Uber has 'disrupted' their sector. Drivers don't have many options.

          1. LDS Silver badge

            Re: I run a business that competes

            Moreover the ultimate aim of companies like Uber is to become monopolists - crushing any competitors with lower prices - so you don't have any other place to go - and once most jobs followed the same path, even switching to a different one won't change anything.

            Just look at Ryan Air, same model, and now workers had enough.

        2. Alistair Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: I run a business that competes

          @ disgusted

          Just like your mortgage/rent, electric, water, food, clothing are all voluntary.

        3. Death_Ninja

          Re: I run a business that competes

          @disgustedoftunbridgewells

          "The assumption that capitalism will eat itself was alway the hope of the Marx's of the world. It's hopelessly naive though."

          Actually, Marx uses the term "dialectic of history", which implies that Socialism is inevitable because of the nature of capitalism.

          Much like the Baby Jesus, all we have to do is wait :D

          Anyhow, when I used the term "Socialism", it doesn't have to be the sort of thing many imagine when they see that word. Most of Europe is actually a socialist democracy. Their people are far happier than ours and their workers more profitable for their businesses too.

          We seem to be caught up in American style ultra-capitalism, which really isn't healthy for anyone in the long term.

          However, the moneymen have led us away from the possibility of European Social Democracy and into the arms of the offshore banking slave labour world. Ironically, by telling everyone that the EU is all about big business. Quite an effective lie it would appear too....

      2. Someone Else Silver badge
        Devil

        @Death_Ninja -- Re: I run a business that competes

        Where is the market for your goods and services when nobody has the money to buy them?

        That is the obvious question nobody in MBA-land has the balls to ask, much less answer.

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    The missing link: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmworpen/352/352.pdf

    The draft bill starts at page 28. On the whole it doesn't look good, in particular: In this Act an individual is “an independent contractor” if he is neither an employee nor worker.

    We need a clear right to be in business on one's own account enshrined in law and with a better definition than "falling between the cracks".

    The problems start at the beginning in 1(3): a tribunal or court may have regard to the following factors, for example: Surely it makes sense to either enumerate principles from which the tribunal or court can decide on factors and give examples or to enumerate the factors outright. This is neither.

  13. unwarranted triumphalism

    Another attack on the free market

    Surprised to see El Reg reporting on it so uncritically.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Another attack on the free market

      I know several people who have to juggle several zero hours contracts just to get enough weekly income to live on: Most of the zero hours contracts do not guarantee you a set amount of hours / set days you will be working, so hours on offer can vary massively each week.

      They would love one job with guaranteed hours and income (plus it would save them a lot in extra commute time, when you are doing aseveral hours here and there an awful lot of time (and money) eaten up in commuting).

      Most people in zero hours contracts are not there by choice, just in those contracts because companies are using them to keep their costs down and screw the workers.

    2. strum Silver badge

      Re: Another attack on the free market

      >the free market

      No such thing.

    3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Another attack on the free market

      El Reg and its commentards moved swiftly to the left at the start of this year. Remember they got rid of Warstall and others. The commentards followed suit.

      1. unwarranted triumphalism

        Re: Another attack on the free market

        Oh wait... you're serious. Let me laugh even harder.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019