In South Dorset employment in the leisure sector – over 20 per cent of all jobs – is twice the national average. “Rogue” employers, who fail to meet legal requirements to pay the minimum wage and to provide contracts, holiday pay and other in-work benefits, are concentrated in this sector. People working in hotels, holiday camps, restaurants, cafes, pubs and shops not only face insecurity, zero-hours contracts and low wages but also “employer delinquency”, including wage theft and arbitrary dismissal.
Young workers are more likely to be on zero-hours contracts: 36 per cent of people aged 16 to 24, compared with 11 per cent for all people in employment. Zero-hours contracts are more common in certain jobs: almost a quarter of all those on zero-hours contracts are in the accommodation and food industries – key sectors in the Dorset economy.
Low wages and high costs, especially for housing and transport, mean that Dorset is seriously affected by rural poverty. Rural bus services have been decimated: official figures show that half the population in West Dorset and a third of the population in North Dorset has no easy access to public transport. Since 2010 Dorset Council has slashed its support for bus services by 80 per cent: today only seven bus routes across the whole county have Council backing. Many villages with significant populations have no access by public transport to key resources – doctors, hospitals, dentists and other health services – and in many cases no local access to shops.