Friday, September 10

When working hours aren't for work


There’s one difference between Australia and the UK that’s always mystified me. No matter where I am and no matter what the time of day there are always people out and about. The demographic on the streets is also surprisingly varied; you see people of all ages and gender, often of working age. This always begs the question; how do they survive? If they’re not working what’s the source of their income?

The sense that there's always someone around is reinforced by the fact that very few companies, utilities and suppliers are willing to arrange delivery or visit your home out of business hours, or on the weekend. There's a universal expectation that someone's at home between 9.00am and 5.00pm. In Australia, most organizations offer after hour’s delivery as standard practice and most trades people or service providers offer to meet out of business hours.

Today I saw some interesting statistics that go some way to solving this mystery. Someone is at home – including many of working age. In the three months to June, 22.9% of Inner London households had no one working. Nationwide, one fifth of households (19.1%) have no one working; 3.9 million in total. Since last year the current tally has risen by an incredible 148,000 households. At least 841,000 of these households are classified as workless because everyone over 16 is classified as sick, injured or disabled.

The source of their income? It’s the Government. A staggering £192 billion in welfare payments is forked out every year. Even more incredibly, this tally grew by £60 billion over the last decade. That is, it almost doubled. It's no surprise to subsequently learn that the number of households where no one works is now at an all time high.

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