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Lack of quality flexible jobs ‘condemning tens of thousands to poverty’

A severe lack of quality part-time or flexible jobs is condemning tens of thousands of people to poverty, according to a study.


Research revealed that almost two million people were out of work, or in part-time jobs paying less than the amount they need to achieve a minimum standard of living.

Around 200,000 of these were living in poverty even though they had the skills for a quality job, as long as it offered some form of flexibility on hours or location, said the report by flexible working group Timewise and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The study of official data on employment, including the Labour Force Survey, found that parents, people with disabilities and older workers were among those hit by a lack of decent part-time or flexible jobs.

Around seven unemployed people were seeking every quality flexible job, compared with one for every quality full-time post, said the report.

The “severe” lack of quality flexible work is the biggest bottleneck to achieving full employment, said the report.

Emma Stewart, joint chief executive of Timewise, said: “Flexible working, from the point of hire, needs to be part of the debate on how to raise living standards for the millions of UK households stuck in low pay, alongside tax credits and the national living wage.

“For the first time, our research highlights that 1.9 million people are prevented from earning their true market value, not by a lack of skills nor a lack of jobs, but by a lack of quality jobs with flexible working options.”

Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Locking people out of high-quality work traps individuals in low pay and low living standards, and limits the wider economy. If we are to achieve a prosperous, poverty-free UK, we need to develop a jobs market which allows workers to achieve their potential and progress at work.

“Employers have a vital role to play through creating ‘people-ready’ jobs which take account of caring responsibilities and disabilities. Opening up high-quality jobs will also help to drive productivity, boosting businesses’ bottom lines and the wider economy.”

The Government was urged to do more to promote flexible working.