Skip to main content

Insecure Employment and Poverty

Volume 742: debated on Monday 18 December 2023

This Government have made it clear that we believe that work is the best route out of poverty. It is important for different types of work to exist, as each individual worker’s circumstances are personal to them, and DWP has an in-work progression offer to support low-paid claimants to progress into better-paid and more secure employment.

Does the Minister agree that the difference between insecure or exploitative work and going plural with a portfolio of well-paid freelance or part-time roles depends on how valuable someone’s skills are? Ministers are rightly offering fresh opportunities for jobseekers to improve their skills, but in a post-pandemic world that is very different from what went before, what plans does she have to revisit and update the recommendations of the Taylor review to protect people whose skills have not yet been upgraded?

I thank my hon. Friend for making that point. As someone who was self-employed for not far off 15 years, I understand where he is coming from. Our work coaches at Jobcentre Plus offices engage with claimants to support access to skills provision. They get a comprehensive range of support, which includes apprenticeships, skills bootcamps, vocational and basic training skills, and careers advice, so that they can work in a way that suits them. Less than 1% of workers on zero-hours contracts want more hours—it is more about caring or other flexibilities—but I am happy to look at the points he has raised in the Chamber today.[Official Report, 19 December 2023, Vol. 742, c. 10MC.]

Last week, Uber came to Parliament to brief MPs on partnerships it has set up to support its drivers, including its recognition agreement with the GMB trade union. All Uber private hire drivers are now auto-enrolled into a pension, but legal uncertainty means that that is not the case for Uber’s competitors. Is it not high time for the Government to bring forward their employment Bill, which was promised after the Taylor review, to provide a level playing field for employers and to tackle these problems of insecurity in the gig economy?

I thank the Chair of the Select Committee for his question. In fact, I have an Uber T-shirt from my time as employment Minister, which the company gave me when it brought in the pension. I applaud the work that Uber has done to support its workforce. The right hon. Gentleman makes an important point, which is actually for another Department, but I will take those messages away.