Hard Work: why we need to change the way we think about work, pay and benefits

Notes from a Broken Society

The concept of work is at the heart of contemporary political and economic rhetoric.  Slogans about work – about hard-working families, about backing the people who work hard, about being the party of work – pepper political discourse across the political spectrum.  But work is in crisis in a way that you would find hard to deduce from mainstream political discourse.  How do we address this?

In the UK, it is a commonplace that real wages have fallen dramatically in the years since the coalition took office.  But that is really the catastrophic tail end of a long-term crisis.  Real wages – especially for those in the lowest-paid jobs – began to fall long before the economic crash of 2007-8; and there has been a long-term shift in national income from wages to rents on assets.  Increasingly the UK – in common with other Anglo-Saxon economies has become a rentier…

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