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Slivers of time initiative to allow (very) part time work

Interesting piece in The Guardian about the Government including "slivers of time" in their welfare reforms.

This is the initative where people who might only be able to work for two hours a week (far less than the requirement for even a normal part time job) are given the chance to do so. Ministers are looking at changing the benefit rules to make this possible.

The Guardian adds:

Slivers of time, a social enterprise founded by the former BBC producer Wingham Rowan, is designed to tap into the pool of people who cannot work the usual hours expected even of the average part-time employee. It is aimed at parents with young children, disabled people who may not be available for work for most of the week, people who care for a dependent adult or the long-term unemployed who want to ease slowly back into work.

"There are millions of people who need to work in a fragmented way," Rowan said. "Some of these people are real assets but they can be excluded from the labour market."

My own council, Hammersmith and Fulham, launched Slivers-of-Time Working in 2008. A Council motion at the time stated:

“This Council notes that economic dependence is one of the key pathways to poverty. In H&F 18% of the working age population is on some form of benefit and a staggering 3,725 lone parents are on income support. The Council welcomes the introduction of Slivers-of-Time to H&F which will allow greater opportunity for flexible working in the local workplace and demonstrates the Council’s commitment to making H&F a borough of opportunity.”

You might have expected cross Party support. Not a bit of it. The Labour Party proposed a wrecking amendment saying that it should only proceed if all sorts of extra burdens were taking on that in practical terms would have stopped it from happening. when their amendment was defeated they abstained on the motion as it stood.

The programme has been a great success in my borough witth thousands getting into work, in areas like passengger transport, albeit on a modest scale. The flexibility has also provided good financial sense for the Council.

The Council leader, Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, says:

I am committed to localism. There is much power that Local Authorities can delegate but they do have a role in tackling worklessness in their area. We have an unusually high incidence of lone parents in the borough. I believe many of these people want to work but can only do so around the ever changing demands of child care.

We acted as a catalyst for Slivers-of-Time Working. LBH&F and other Councils use this new kind of worker for tasks such as: peak time library help, park wardens on sunny days, taking minutes at school governor meetings, security, electoral office duties at election time, taking children in care to/from school, handling peak periods in the registrar’s office and so on.

Our demand enabled the market to start in H&F. Other employers then joined the market. The local Primary Care Trust uses Slivers-of-Time Workers for public health outreach, for example signing up members of the public for anti-smoking classes. Housing Associations in our area have also started to deploy this very efficient, cost effective, pool of motivated local people. Typically they use Slivers-of-Time workers for tasks such as: cleaning, resident outreach, call centre duties and property handovers.

 I am working with Eric Pickles on this. Slivers-of-Time Working is one example of an emerging possibility that enables us to serve our community better while cutting costs.


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