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AWR may lead a third of employers to sack temporary workers

Research shows that employers may sack temporary staff to avoid paying them a permanent employee wag

The new EU Agency Worker directive (AWR), which came into effect in October 2011, aims to protect temporary workers by providing increased wages, rights to holidays and sick pay after an inital 12-week trial period.

However research from a new survey suggests that 29 per cent of the 42 recruitment agencies surveyed intended to terminate short-term contracts before the 12-week qualifying period was up.

Ann Swain, Chief Executive at APSCo, stated:

The majority of workers affected are likely to be young graduates. At a time when unemployment among young people has surpassed one million, any barrier to securing work has to be questioned.

According to APSCo, despite the concern over employers terminating contracts early, just 19% of recruiters think that the AWR is contributing towards the reduced demand for temporary staff.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.