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Ealing and Northfield National politics

Councillor Manro might like to sort out Ealing Council’s use of zero hours contracts before he starts repeating dodgy stats

Labour local councillor Shital Manro has a passing interest in economics. He is a nice chap and we often debate economic issues on Twitter. A bit trainspotterish I know but call it a hobby.

Shital highlighted this picture yesterday which was originally published by a Labour PPC called Amina Lone. I don’t know if she just republished something that she didn’t understand or whether she created it. Anyway it is total nonsense and whoever created probably did so knowing it was nonsense.

The underlying data comes from the ONS. You will search their document in vain for this picture. The reason ONS didn’t make a chart out of their data is because it would be misleading and show a trend that does not really exist. The data comes from the Labour Force Survey and records how many people report that they are on Zero Hours contracts. Because these arrangements have been in the news, especially in 2013, more people are reporting that they are employed on this basis. No-one really knows how many people are on these arrangements, which are ill-defined. More here from Full Fact.

Anyway, a quick look at the graph and the fact that the number more than doubled between 2012 and 2013 tells you it is a glitch in the data and not a real effect in the labour market. Employment practices and people’s behaviour simply don’t change that fast. The data the graph was made from has this caveat at the top:

Zero hours health warning

Councillor Manro might like to check for himself if the council still has 303 staff on zero hours contracts. When this was all in the news in August 2013 this is what officers told us was the situation in Ealing.

Ealing Council zero hours

In many cases these flexible contracts work well for both sides. The government is seeking to ban exclusivity (which is self-defeating if you think about it). When Shital has sorted out Ealing Council he can come and tell us.