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Scottish CAB Service tells MSPs: “Underemployment pushing people into poverty”

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) and Citizens Advice and Rights Fife will today tell MSPs on the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee that underemployment is pushing Scots into poverty. The organisations will tell the committee that many CAB clients are desperate to work more hours and to better use their skills, but the shortage of full-time jobs is keeping them in underemployment.

This week the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report on poverty and social exclusion in Scotland showed that 120,000 Scots were seeking full time work in 2012, up from 70,000 in 2008 (1).  In addition, the Office for National Statistics reported in 2012 that the number of people across the UK seeking extra hours of work had risen by one million in four years (2).

Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice and Rights Fife are highlighting three key areas for improvement:

  1. Jobcentre Plus needs to do more to help people find suitable work.  The jobs they match with jobseekers or those looking for additional hours are often unsuitable.  In addition, the new Universal Jobmatch website, which is run by the DWP and will soon become compulsory for jobseekers to use, inaccurately lists some part time jobs as full time.
  2. There needs to be a single definition of underemployment used by policy makers and statisticians in order to accurately measure the problem
  3. Graduates should be considered as a group, rather than simply measuring employment outcomes by age.  This would allow policy makers to better analyse whether graduates are displacing other people from non-graduate level jobs.

Norma Philpott, CEO of Citizens Advice and Rights Fife said:

“We are increasingly seeing people who are struggling to make ends meet because they can’t find work with enough hours.  The rise in the number of people coming to us for help accessing food banks and the proportion of people turning to payday loans shows that many people who can only find part time work are being pushed into poverty.”

Lauren Wood, Social Policy Officer for Citizens Advice Scotland said:

“Whilst underemployment is hard to measure, we know from citizens advice bureaux across Scotland that it is a serious issue for many of their clients.  It is also clear that the government support for people who are underemployed is often lacking.  The DWP’s Universal Job Match site, for example, lists part time jobs with as few as 8 hours a week as full time.  If that is the way the government expects people to find more work, they must ensure it is a gateway to appropriate jobs that are properly matched to people’s needs and skills and that pay enough to live on.” 


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