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One percent

pricing people out of work

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Rail fairs are going up by over 3 percent.  Meanwhile wages are stagnating or dropping.  Are we close to the point when it is not longer viable to work?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42234488

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40936050

Season tickets to London are already above £5,000 from places such as Milton Keynes (£5,028 to London) and Portsmouth and Southsea in Hampshire (£5,048).

When fares increase in January 2018, London commuters in Oxford, Colchester in Essex and Hastings in East Sussex are also set to join the club.

Alistair Carter, from Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire, avoids the £5k commuter club - but only because he cycles the final leg to his Mayfair office.

His wife Agatha is already a member - she pays £5,092 ever year, including Tube travel.

"I have said to my boss that when my fare hits £5,000 I will be looking for a new job," says Alistair, a recruiter, whose ticket to London currently costs £4,094 a year.

 

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Agreed.  Getting to work is becoming unaffordable for more and more hardworking taxpayers.  The cost of commuting by car is exorbitant when you add up fuel, parking, general maintenance, tax and insurance.  People are being left with less and less disposable income.

Those who commute by train generally have to get to the station, park etc.

This won't end well.  Particularly when DWP claimants have few such worries.

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Twenty years ago I lived in Harlow (three stops from the quoted Bishops Stortford above) and paid about £2.6k for the annual season ticket.

The thing I hated even more than the money was the early start and the commute. And having colds every winter, all winter.

I started out in retail Head Office - those logistics and merchandising roles - at least for the major retailers - are all in cities.

Then I moved sideways within the company into IT.

And then I had no reason whatsoever to traipse all the way into London every day. So I didn't, and went on to work from home. Earning more.

If you don't absolutely have to work in London, I can't really understand why anybody does. It has a bit of a buzz factor for a short time when you're very young and feel more invulnerable.

Cost of season tickets, stabbings, acid attacks and terrorism. What's not to like.

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1 minute ago, spygirl said:

Problem is, this is something Ive been seeing a lot.

London based companies face much higher wage demand, to pay for housing and/or travel cost.

A 5k season ticket is ~8k of taxable income.

If only they'd not filled up London housing with 3rd worlders on benefits ...

I kind of wonder, and have for a few years now, how London businesses continue to attract staff.  My two offspring have decent jobs in London.  They are not on massive wages and would not be able to do the jobs they do if they could not live at home.  

1 minute ago, DTMark said:

Twenty years ago I lived in Harlow (three stops from the quoted Bishops Stortford above) and paid about £2.6k for the annual season ticket.

The thing I hated even more than the money was the early start and the commute. And having colds every winter, all winter.

I started out in retail Head Office - those logistics and merchandising roles - at least for the major retailers - are all in cities.

Then I moved sideways within the company into IT.

And then I had no reason whatsoever to traipse all the way into London every day. So I didn't, and went on to work from home. Earning more.

If you don't absolutely have to work in London, I can't really understand why anybody does. It has a bit of a buzz factor for a short time when you're very young and feel more invulnerable.

Cost of season tickets, stabbings, acid attacks and terrorism. What's not to like.

o.O.  I guess someone has to....

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1 minute ago, DTMark said:

Twenty years ago I lived in Harlow (three stops from the quoted Bishops Stortford above) and paid about £2.6k for the annual season ticket.

The thing I hated even more than the money was the early start and the commute. And having colds every winter, all winter.

I started out in retail Head Office - those logistics and merchandising roles - at least for the major retailers - are all in cities.

Then I moved sideways within the company into IT.

And then I had no reason whatsoever to traipse all the way into London every day. So I didn't, and went on to work from home. Earning more.

If you don't absolutely have to work in London, I can't really understand why anybody does. It has a bit of a buzz factor for a short time when you're very young and feel more invulnerable.

Cost of season tickets, stabbings, acid attacks and terrorism. What's not to like.

One of the reasons why peole used to put themselves through commuter hell - well, Penny putting Jeffry thru a life of out of the door at 6am, back at 8pm - was that the higher earnings meant they could get a big house outside of London, on London wages.

However, now the MMR/PRA BoE rules are in place, that cost of commute will now be deducted from your income, so cancelled out now.

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When you run a business you'e got two choices (well, pricing philosophies).

Do I sell 100 items at £1 each or, make it £10 and sell only 10.

Same takeover, margins, profit etc.  Just the customer has a harder time in the second option.

The privatised rail networks have decided to manage capacity through pricing, rather than expand to meet demand and price at the margin.

You can't blame them, particularly -- they're just commercial operations making a rational decision.  But it isn't something that is helping make Britain a better country.

Still, they've got great masters -- the Government was very happy to allow the banking industry to screw us all, to allow housing to go stratospheric, etc. A few % on rail to maximise profits without having to increase capacity is the least of our problems.

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6 minutes ago, One percent said:

I kind of wonder, and have for a few years now, how London businesses continue to attract staff.  My two offspring have decent jobs in London.  They are not on massive wages and would not be able to do the jobs they do if they could not live at home.  

o.O.  I guess someone has to....

A lot of largish station along the Bristol route have had huge estates built on the land adjacent to the ataion - old good yards and all that.

I remeber seeing an Ad pitching a 'lifestyle' flat in Basingstoke, being able to commute into WLOO in 1h.

Imagine the reality of that - moving to BStoke, to live in a shit flat and spending ~15h/week and ~9l/year commuting to London.

Not going to happen.

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1 minute ago, One percent said:

o.O.  I guess someone has to....

Everyone knows it, though. It seems to punch above its weight for a fairly ordinary provincial commuter town.

Commute time to London from there was quite quick; I'd leave work at 5 and be home at 6:30 which isn't bad considering the distance, but the idea of doing that every day for the foreseeable future with no escape and no opportunity to move any further away would leave me feeling very "boxed-in" and depressed.

Never, not once, did it ever occur to me to move nearer to London - Harlow is plenty near enough - or see any kind of future life that consisted of living and working in London. Do the time, gain the experience, and move on.

Paying what will now be close to £5k a year to stand all the way in both directions every day, for three hours, seems like madness. People must surely be taking the cost of this into account now.

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Yeah it's mental - I don't know how you folk in the south of England make ends meet - I mean even if you earn more than we do here in NI, the gov still takes 40% if it over £45K.

I'm lucky that I've built a life where I can walk to work and live without a car; which saves a lot, but in doing that I am restricted to living in a small flat. And of course, I'm single with no kids.

What should happen is that if employers won't pay more, they could at least make provisions to allow people to work remotely. Unfortunately my employer doesn't trust me enough to do that; if I had a family I could move out to a cheaper part of NI, and for the price of a city center 2 bed flat I could get a detached 4 bed home. Then just commute in to the office for essential meetings - say once or twice a week max.

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The crazy thing is the Government still gives £4 billion in rail subsidies a year....

If railways werent so unionised I'd Imagine the drivers would have lost their jobs to a computer years ago.

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1 minute ago, JoeDavola said:

Yeah it's mental - I don't know how you folk in the south of England make ends meet - I mean even if you earn more than we do here in NI, the gov still takes 40% if it over £45K.

I'm lucky that I've built a life where I can walk to work and live without a car; which saves a lot, but in doing that I am restricted to living in a small flat. And of course, I'm single with no kids.

What should happen is that if employers won't pay more, they could at least make provisions to allow people to work remotely. Unfortunately my employer doesn't trust me enough to do that; if I had a family I could move out to a cheaper part of NI, and for the price of a city center 2 bed flat I could get a detached 4 bed home. Then just commute in to the office for essential meetings - say once or twice a week max.

Eventually someone will work out what to do with all of those empty flats and the plethora of offices to let.

Come up with some kind of aspirational setup with home and work in the same buildings, work being in an attached office complex provided for you where the employer can watch what you're up to on camera.

This is the sort of thing that most people would think of as fairly horrendous, but these days it's precisely the kind of thing that people seem to lap up. What freedom!

There's a large development of small flats right opposite Harlow Town train station. Joined to the car park. Indeed you have to have a residents permit to get through the gate.

Oh, what a life. The above is only a small extension of that.

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4 minutes ago, DTMark said:

Everyone knows it, though. It seems to punch above its weight for a fairly ordinary provincial commuter town.

Commute time to London from there was quite quick; I'd leave work at 5 and be home at 6:30 which isn't bad considering the distance, but the idea of doing that every day for the foreseeable future with no escape and no opportunity to move any further away would leave me feeling very "boxed-in" and depressed.

Never, not once, did it ever occur to me to move nearer to London - Harlow is plenty near enough - or see any kind of future life that consisted of living and working in London. Do the time, gain the experience, and move on.

Paying what will now be close to £5k a year to stand all the way in both directions every day, for three hours, seems like madness. People must surely be taking the cost of this into account now.

I live a bit nearer in. Think bottom of the m11. Commuting has always been ok but the local council have gone on a mass building programme. Now, the train is rammed with a new massive build about to be sold. It's going to be like hell on earth. 

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2 minutes ago, JoeDavola said:

Yeah it's mental - I don't know how you folk in the south of England make ends meet - I mean even if you earn more than we do here in NI, the gov still takes 40% if it over £45K.

I'm lucky that I've built a life where I can walk to work and live without a car; which saves a lot, but in doing that I am restricted to living in a small flat. And of course, I'm single with no kids.

What should happen is that if employers won't pay more, they could at least make provisions to allow people to work remotely. Unfortunately my employer doesn't trust me enough to do that; if I had a family I could move out to a cheaper part of NI, and for the price of a city center 2 bed flat I could get a detached 4 bed home. Then just commute in to the office for essential meetings - say once or twice a week max.

I have said before that the majority of non-public facing office jobs can be done from home.  If the government give incentives (or force) to companies to provide remote working then the road/rail overcrowding issue would be resolved overnight.

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Surely any decent employer should be able to measure what you actually achieve without watching you and allow you to work from home more?

It's attitudes that have to change. Set reasonable targets, and if people don't achieve them, find out why, if the reasons are not in the employees' favour, fire them. Including public sector.

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1 minute ago, DTMark said:

Eventually someone will work out what to do with all of those empty flats and the plethora of offices to let.

Come up with some kind of aspirational setup with home and work in the same buildings, work being in an attached office complex provided for you where the employer can watch what you're up to on camera.

This is the sort of thing that most people would think of as fairly horrendous, but these days it's precisely the kind of thing that people seem to lap up. What freedom!

There's a large development of small flats right opposite Harlow Town train station. Joined to the car park. Indeed you have to have a residents permit to get through the gate.

Oh, what a life. The above is only a small extension of that.

Yeah I think one of the google 'campuses' has employees living on it.

I remember when I was a graduate, some of the companies used to try and sell themselves as having pool tables, beer fridges ect...in the office. Basically play areas for adults. In actual fact what that meant was that you'd be doing really fucking long hours, so don't think of leaving the office.

I had thought of working-from-home as being a good thing, but I'm assuming what you're saying there Mark is that if it was adopted in a big way, companies would abuse it and you'd end up potentially in a worse situation? It's an interesting thought.

I remember doing some consulting with a call centre years ago and seeing how they worked - how everyone had real time stats on their efficiency on a big screen on the wall and you couldn't so much as go to the toilet without changing your status in the call centre software i.e. the managers could quantify exactly how long everyone was away from their desks. It was basically slavery.

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3 minutes ago, One percent said:

I live a bit nearer in. Think bottom of the m11. Commuting has always been ok but the local council have gone on a mass building programme. Now, the train is rammed with a new massive build about to be sold. It's going to be like hell on earth. 

The fastest route was actually Harlow to Walthamstow by car, I imagine passing quite close to your place, Victoria Line to Oxford Circus, Bakerloo line to Marylebone.

I stopped doing that when I couldn't stand sitting in that bloody queue at the bottom of the M11 every morning and paid the extra to get the mainline train which added about 20 minutes.

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2 minutes ago, swissy_fit said:

Surely any decent employer should be able to measure what you actually achieve without watching you and allow you to work from home more?

It's attitudes that have to change. Set reasonable targets, and if people don't achieve them, find out why, if the reasons are not in the employees' favour, fire them. Including public sector.

Yes,  I work from home a lot.  You have a set of tasks to do.  If you don't do them without a reasonable explanation then you get the boot.

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6 minutes ago, montecristo said:

I have said before that the majority of non-public facing office jobs can be done from home.  If the government give incentives (or force) to companies to provide remote working then the road/rail overcrowding issue would be resolved overnight.

Agreed.

4 minutes ago, swissy_fit said:

Surely any decent employer should be able to measure what you actually achieve without watching you and allow you to work from home more?

The issue is that the middle / senior managers who would call the shots to let you work from home are often the types whose jobs revolve around being seen at meetings and have very little tangible outputs themselves. So they like to see bums on seats so to speak. As a developer it's particularly annoying when you're in an open plan office with one or two noisy people who are either chattering or on the phone - in that situation I'd actually be far more productive working from home.

Edited by JoeDavola

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2 minutes ago, JoeDavola said:

Agreed.

The issue is that the middle / senior managers who would call the shots to let you work from home are often the types whose jobs revolve around being seen at meetings and have very little tangible outputs themselves. So they like to see bums on seats so to speak. As a developer it's particularly annoying when you're in an open plan office with one or two noisy people who are either chattering or on the phone - in that situation I'd actually be far more productive working from home.

Maybe they read this site and know you've got VR and a fleshlight! :D

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Just now, swissy_fit said:

Maybe they read this site and know you've got VR and a fleshlight! :D

Hahaha! If they read the stuff I've written here over the years I'd have been fired a long time ago! :D

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1 minute ago, JoeDavola said:

Agreed.

The issue is that the middle / senior managers who would call the shots to let you work from home are often the types whose jobs revolve around being seen at meetings and have very little tangible outputs themselves. So they like to see bums on seats so to speak. As a developer it's particularly annoying when you're in an open plan office with one or two noisy people who are either chattering or on the phone - in that situation I'd actually be far more productive working from home.

When we moved here I did, for a time, take a full-time role with a small company near here.

That lasted for about a year. The boss was basically a control freak. The agreement was that I would work from home. However the boss could never quite accept that this was satisfactory.

Bearing in mind that I'd pop up on Skype about 10 minutes before anyone else got into the office, I'd answer the phone immediately, and would have running chats all day long with the people in the office, what he never quite realised was that I knew more about what went on there than he did.

Even though one of my colleagues did make the point that were I swanning around the countryside or out shopping they'd have spotted this by now, and it never happens, things came to a bit of a head and that particular episode didn't end very well.

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Some thoughts on this thread, in no particular order:

  • Commuting from Milton Keynes into London. I'd say that the price is not the issue. Commuting such a stupendous distance is the issue. It's nuts. If London stopped centralising so much of the country's economic activity, then maybe the good people of Milton Keynes could get a job in Milton Keynes?
  • The RailCos are gouging the market. Well, of course they are :) They price season tickets as high as the target market can go. For example: a few years ago it was noted that season tickets from St Albans into London were significantly more expensive than the tickets from Hatfield - different railway line, but the same distance into London, and run by the same RailCo! The big difference: St Albans is a significantly richer town. So the tickets were priced according to what the local market would accept.
  • London is very much smoke and mirrors. "Look how fantastic the lifestyle is!". People - especially young people - are ready to put up with all the downsides, just because they have a worldview where London is brilliant, vibrant, and happening. And everywhere else in the UK is basically Royston Vasey.
  • Working from home is great. Except it's poison for the hordes of incompetent middle-management types who are incapable of judging people's performance by any other metric that "hours spent in the office".
  • I'll be first to admit - it's often not easy to measure employee performance. For example, a significant part of my job is mentoring/upskilling the more junior members of the team. How can my "performance" be measured?

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17 minutes ago, swissy_fit said:

Surely any decent employer should be able to measure what you actually achieve without watching you and allow you to work from home more?

It's attitudes that have to change. Set reasonable targets, and if people don't achieve them, find out why, if the reasons are not in the employees' favour, fire them. Including public sector.

This works for routine jobs; I was working with a big US insurer ten years' ago and their phone staff all worked exclusively from home and were monitored.

At a senior / strategy level a lot of value comes from chats, dragging people into meetings who might help, or overhearing conversations.  I was asked to sit and be talked through a huge spreadsheet this morning, did that, made a couple of changes, then asked about something related and who was doing it. It turned out nobody was because the person who's done it has left and it's now being sorted out, but without my innocent enquiry it wouldn't have been.

Most jobs I've had have had this level of complexity / strategy and whole new multi million projects have arisen from nothing in just such a way.  It wouldn't work if most people were at home.

I do work at home one or two days a week but any more and I wouldn't be contributing all those added value things that, whilst recognised, don't fall into the targets / measurements so beloved of MBA types.

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