Welfare Reform and Work Bill

Written evidence submitted by Timewise Foundation (WRW 12)

BIO: Emma Stewart MBE, Joint CEO and Founder of Timewise Foundation

Listed as one of the UK’s ‘social entrepreneurs to watch’ by Real Business magazine and listed as one of the ‘UK’s Top Radical thinkers’ by the Guardian and Nesta, Emma Stewart MBE is the co-founder and Joint CEO of Timewise Foundation (timewise.co.uk), and also Women Like Us.

Timewise is the multi award winning social business building a visible jobs market for people who need good quality flexible jobs, and represents 70,000 people. Emma’s focus is on supporting low-to-middle income parents to find work to fit with family and raise their living standards.

Emma regularly engages with government to help shape policy in relation to mothers, work, gender inequality and child poverty. She is a member of the London LEP Skills and Employment Board, and currently chairs the London Child Poverty Alliance. She has previously co-chaired the Department for Work and Pensions’ Family Friendly Working Hours taskforce, and has contributed to numerous reports and initiatives to improve women’s participation in the workplace.

Most recently, she put the issue of flexible hiring on the wider industry agenda with the launch of the Timewise Flexible Jobs Index, featuring in the Daily Telegraph, Times, Guardian, Management Today and more.

Prior to Timewise, Emma enjoyed a successful career in documentary production and as a freelance business development consultant.

Summary Statement

Timewise is concerned that the current mainstream support offered will not, as it stands, be sufficient to incentivise more primary carers with young children (primarily women) into quality employment and out of conditionality.

It advocates for two areas to be addressed

- invest in demand side interventions to stimulate more employer action directly on flexible job design and changing recruitment practices to unlock better quality jobs to flexibility. This will enable parents and carers to increase their part time earnings NOT through more hours but to enable parents with earning potential to optimise their existing skills in higher level part time and flexible jobs.

- support parents to get the tailored interventions ( employability and childcare) to access these jobs through JCP and other programmes such as Troubled Families and Work Programme.

Women choose part time roles so that they can fit work around their caring responsibilities, but this means choosing from a small pool of externally advertised flexible roles, concentrated in low paying occupations and sectors such as cleaning, caring and retail.

The lack of quality flexible jobs in the recruitment market limits women’s options, and is an underlying structural driver for the high rates of maternal worklessness and in-work poverty within families. Women either choose not to work or to work in part time jobs that do not raise their income standards.

Timewise Foundation’s recent Flexible Jobs Index research, funded by Joseph Rowntree Foundation, provides new data into the state of the flexible jobs market. It highlighted that only 6% of quality ( over £20,000 FTE) job vacancies are advertised with some form of flexibility.

This compares to over 96% of employers who state they offer some form of flexible working.

Timewise Foundation is calling for more employers to embrace flexible hiring as well as flexible working. This means that an employer will openly advertise a job to be considered on a flexible basis (on either hours or location) from day one, rather than waiting for the statutory 26 weeks.

About Timewise Foundation

The Timewise Foundation (TWF) is a multi award winning social enterprise and leading change agent for the flexible recruitment market in the UK. TWF undertakes activities to position the social and business benefits of quality part time and flexible work and provides a range of advisory and recruitment services to employers to stimulate change in their recruitment practices. This work delivers social impact for low to middle income families who need quality flexible jobs to fit work with caring responsibilities and raise their household income.

Through our division Women Like Us we provide frontline support over 500 parents in London each year to find work or progress in work that they can combine with family responsibilities. Our social impact analysis highlights that our services lift 82% of our clients out of poverty through better quality flexible jobs, of whom two thirds are from Black and Minority Ethnic communities .

Our activity generates over £500,000 economic impact to families and the state each year and our innovative approach has influenced both business and government policy at regional and national levels.

Commentary on conditionality for ‘responsible carers’ within Universal Credit

Timewise Foundation works to stimulate a quality flexible jobs market in the UK.

Through our Women Like Us division the organisation supports low income mothers, both lone and coupled, to prepare for and find work to fit with their caring responsibilities.

The bill proposes that parents with a youngest child aged 3 or older (including lone parents) who are able to work will be expected to look for work if they are claiming Universal Credit. These parents will receive support from Jobcentre Plus.

Timewise is concerned that the current mainstream support offered will not, as it stands, be sufficient to incentivise more primary carers with young children (primarily women) into quality employment and out of conditionality.

Timewise advocates for two areas to be addressed

- invest in demand side interventions to stimulate more employer action directly on flexible job design and changing recruitment practices to unlock better quality jobs to flexibility. This will enable parents and carers to increase their part time earnings NOT through more hours but to enable parents with earning potential to optimise their existing skills in higher level part time and flexible jobs.

- support parents to get the tailored interventions ( employability and childcare) to access these jobs through JCP and other programmes such as Troubled Families and Work Programme.

Context

Maternal worklessness is evidenced to be a key driver for child poverty. Two thirds of those earning low pay in the UK are women.

The majority of women with young children in the UK want to work part time or flexibly to fit work with their caring responsibilities.

Women choose part time roles so that they can fit work around their caring responsibilities, but this means choosing from a small pool of externally advertised flexible roles, concentrated in low paying occupations and sectors such as cleaning, caring and retail.

The lack of quality flexible jobs in the recruitment market limits women’s options , and is an underlying structural driver for the high rates of maternal worklessness and in-work poverty within families . Women either choose not to work or to work in part time jobs that do not raise their income standards.

Timewise Foundation’s recent Flexible Jobs Index research, funded by Joseph Rowntree Foundation, provides new data into the state of the flexible jobs market. It highlighted that only 6% of quality ( over £20,000 FTE) job vacancies are advertised with some form of flexibility.

This compares to over 96% of employers who state they offer some form of flexible working.

The distinction is that employers either only consider creating jobs on a flexible or part time basis if they have historically been done this way ie within specific sectors such as retail, or if an individual employee has asked for flexibility.

Timewise Foundation is calling for more employers to embrace flexible hiring as well as flexible working. This means that an employer will openly advertise a job to be considered on a flexible basis (on either hours or location) from day one, rather than waiting for the statutory 26 weeks.

There is a wealth of evidence to support the need to drive up the number of quality part time and flexible jobs in the Uk labour market as a way to raise family living standards. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Mainstream interventions have historically focused on looking to build the skills of those in low pay as a solution to raising household income. Yet Timewise’s analysis and that of others highlights that many women are overqualified and under-employed ( from a skills optimisation not hours perspective) in working part time. 4.3 million workers in the UK have skills and qualifications that exceed those needed for their job – that’s 16% of employees [6] . This percentage rises considerably when looking at women in part time work, where nearly half of women working part-time are over-qualified for their job. [7]

There is therefore a need to trial a new approach to tackling both maternal worklessness and in work poverty for those locked into low paid part time jobs. This approach focuses on addressing both demand and supply side barriers ie

- invest in demand side interventions to stimulate more employer action directly on flexible job design and changing recruitment practices to unlock better quality jobs to flexibility. This will enable parents and carers to increase their part time earnings NOT through more hours but to enable parents with earning potential to optimise their existing skills in higher level part time and flexible jobs.

- supporting parents to get the tailored interventions ( employability and childcare) to access these jobs.

Timewise’s research with 500 managers in 2014 highlighted that 9 out of 10 would consider offering jobs with flexible hours for the right candidate at the point of recruitment, However, only 3 out of 10 managers are actively doing this. The barrier is that business leaders are not enabling this to happen. [8] There is an opportunity to champion flexible hiring to the business community to drive change.

Piloting Interventions

Timewise has delivered a UC pilot for single parents, on behalf of DWP, to help them move out of conditionality by trialling these two approaches.

Nearly all parents on the pilot demonstrated a strong preference to work part time while their children where at primary school or younger, and would compromise salary for flexible working or a local job. The pilot findings are due to be published in the autumn, and whilst a small trial, it highlights the effectiveness of building job design and flexible hiring into job brokerage processes.

Considerations

On the basis of Timewise’s research and work with both employers and low income families, we propose that government considers the following actions as part of its roll out of conditionality for responsible carers. These are specifically focused on our area of expertise: flexible hiring and running employability programmes. There are wider issues that need to be considered alongside this in the context of cuts to tax credits and changes to childcare entitlements .

· Ensure that people falling under conditionality within Universal Credit who have restrictions on the hours they can work (due to caring responsibilities or disability) are given options and adequate support to increase their earnings through better quality but still flexible or part-time work, not just by working more hours.

· This will require capacity building for frontline advisors and employer engagement teams in DWP/JCP and wider mainstream employment programmes ( Work Programme and Troubled Families) on how to position flexible hiring with employers, and to provide tailored support to parents needing to find flexible work.

· Stimulate more regional commissioning and employer action by encouraging LEPs to raise awareness of the benefits to employers of embracing flexible hiring through regional jobs and growth strategies.

· Improve prompts in Universal Jobs Match, to encourage employers to consider offering flexible options when they advertise their jobs

· Pilot a career advancement service that includes an employer-facing support service on flexible job design.

· Extend ONS national employer surveys to include analysis of part-time vacancies.

· Demonstrate leadership by r outinely advertise its own quality vacancies as open to flexibility at national, devolved, regional and local levels. This will enable government to realise the benefits of attracting and retaining talent, and to champion the benefits of flexible hiring from experience.

September 2015


[1] Commission for Living Standards, Resolution Foundation, ‘Gaining From Growth’, 2012

[2] Woldfogel, ‘ Tackling poverty and promoting social mobility by raising maternal employment: the potential and the challenges. ‘ 2012

[3] Bell, Bivand for Inclusion ‘Driving up part time employment in London ‘ 2012

[4] Camden Council ‘Equality Taskforce Report’ 2014

[5] Making Britain Work for Everyone CBI 2014

[6] CIPD John Lewis Partnership and Tooley Street Research. ‘Understanding-the-barriers-for-the-lowest-paid’ 2014

[7] Schuller (2011) ‘Gender and Skills in a Changing Economy’ UK Commission for Employment and Skills

[8] A Flexible Future for Britain?, Timewise 2014

Prepared 11th September 2015