Tagged: Welfare News Service

Unemployment Figures Include Sanctioned Jobseekers, Say ONS – But Not Universal Credit Claimants

Welfare News Service asked the Office for National Statistics (ONS):

Could you please verify as to whether ‘sanctioned’ Jobseekers in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance (both income and contributory based) are included in official government statistics/datasets submitted to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in relation to UK unemployment. Could you also further clarify as to whether this remains the case in relation to Universal Credit?

 Furthermore, could you also inform me as to whether sick and disabled UK residents in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are included in official government unemployment data/statistics submitted to the ONS, and whether this data is included in published ONS figures.

Does this extend to ‘sanctioned’ ESA WRAG recipients?

 

ONS response:

Thank you for your recent request under the Freedom of Information Act regarding the effect of sanctions on UK unemployment statistics.

Unemployment in the UK is measured using the Labour Force Survey (LFS), consistent with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition. The LFS is a sample survey of people living in private households. The survey asks a series of questions about respondents’ personal circumstances and their activity in the labour market.

Through these questions every respondent is classified as in employment, unemployed or economically inactive, consistent with ILO definitions. The LFS and ILO defines an individual as unemployed if they are without work, available for work and seeking work. The UK applies this as ‘anybody who is not in employment and has actively sought work in the last 4 weeks and is available to start work in the next 2 weeks, or has found a job and is waiting to start in the next 2 weeks’, is considered to be unemployed.

As this data is gathered from a survey, the LFS, it is independent of whether or not the individual is claiming benefits, and therefore is not affected by sanctions.

If an individual who is in the Work Related Activity Group of Employment and Support Allowance is meeting the above criteria they would also be counted as unemployed irrespective of whether they are being sanctioned or not. The same would also be true of any claimants of Universal Credit who meet this criteria.

ONS also publishes the Claimant Count, which is the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). People who are sanctioned are those who have an underlying entitlement to JSA, but have not followed the rules of the benefit scheme. People who are sanctioned do not automatically have their claim closed by DWP, but will not receive payment of JSA during the period of the sanction. Any live sanctioned claim, where the individual continues to sign on, would continue to be included within the Claimant Count. However, if they choose not to sign-on during their sanction period, their claim will be closed, as would be the case generally if a claimant fails to sign on – and as such would not be included in the Claimant Count.

Currently the Claimant Count estimates do not include any claimants of Universal Credit. ONS will include jobseeker Universal Credit claims in the Claimant Count statistics as soon as possible. The absence of Universal Credit claimants currently has a small effect on the Claimant Count for the UK.

 

You can find our FOI request and the ONS response here

We’re still waiting for the DWP to respond to our FOI.

Source – Welfare News Service, 09 Sept 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/unemployment-figures-include-sanctioned-jobseekers-say-ons-universal-credit-claimants/

Cut Child Benefit For Larger Families, Says Think Tank

Child Benefit should be limited to no more than four children per family to help cut welfare spending, say Policy Exchange.

A report by the centre-right think tank  has recommended limiting child benefit for larger families. The move could save around £1 billion over the course of a parliament, say Policy Exchange.

Policy Exchange is said to have close ties with the Conservative Party and was founded by a group that included Michael Gove, Francis Maude and Nick Boles. Many of the past recommendations made by the think tank have been adopted into tory manifestos.

If this new policy is adopted, it would see child benefit progressively cut for each child born into a family, and rise by no more than 1% each year over the five-year course of a parliament.

Parents would initially receive £21.50 a week for their first child, £14.85 for the second child, £14.30 for the third and £13.70 for the fourth. Payments would be limited to no more than four children per family. Supporters of the policy claim it would help deter immigrant from coming to the UK to claim benefits for their children.

Policy Exchange said that a YouGov poll, commissioned by the think tank, found that 67% of voters would support cutting child benefit for larger families. 20% were opposed to the move.

According to the results of the poll, the proposal is supported by 83% of Conservative voters, 63% of Liberal Democrat voters and 55% of Labour voters.

The Conservatives have previously considered a similar proposal put forward by Nadim Zahawi to limit child benefit to just two children, but decided against the policy out of fear it would cost the party votes.

The author of the report, Steve Hughes, said:

The chancellor has suggested that annual welfare savings of £12bn will have to be found to avoid further and faster cuts to departmental budgets.

“Choosing where this money comes from is not easy, but with such high levels of public support, capping child benefit at four children and redesigning payment levels offers a very real opportunity to generate some much needed savings in the fairest way possible.”

A spokesperson for the right-wing pressure group, Taxpayers Alliance, told the Daily Express:

No one should be immune from having to make the sometimes hard choices associated with having a family and people have to realise that there is not a bottomless pit of money.”

Opponents argue that the tory-led coalition government has consistently targeted Britain’s poorest households with draconian welfare cuts, while continuing to allow multinational companies to escape paying their ‘fair share’ in tax and handing tax cuts to the highest earners, who could afford to pay more.

They also say that there has been far too much focus on cutting state benefits, rather than introducing a living wage to help parents cover the cost of living and raise their own children, instead of having to rely on benefits to top-up stagnating wages.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday (17 June) appear to support such an argument. ONS figures show that average pay has increased by only 0.7% on this time last year, or just 0.3% excluding bonuses – well below inflation which currently stands at 1.9%.

A Survation poll for the union Unite, found that over a third (34%) of low wage earners cannot afford to shop where they work and nearly sixty percent of workers earning £6.50 or below (58%) feel trapped in low waged work. 79% of respondents said that they want work to pay and want to earn a living wage instead of depending on benefit top ups.

Welfare News Service requested a comment from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) on how limiting child benefit would impact upon child poverty figures. Unfortunately they did not respond in time for publication.

Source –  Welfare News Service,  17 July 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/cut-child-benefit-larger-families-says-think-tank/

Job Vacancies Approach 800,000 But North-South Divide Remains

The number of advertised job vacancies grew by 3.1% between December 2013 and January 2014, with the total number of available jobs across the UK now at 768,104 and expected to exceed 800,000 by the end of February 2014, according to research by Adzuna.co.uk  seen by the Welfare News Service (WNS).

The headline figure represent a 14% increase on this time 12 months ago and research suggests that the apparent rise in advertised job vacancies is at least partly due to a strengthening manufacturing sector, which now employs around 2.5 million people across the country.

> Although the the apparent rise in advertised job vacancies in my Jobcentre appears to be because there are so many self-employed, commission-based  non-jobs.

In particular, significant growth in the UK’s car industry accounted for 10,012 advertised vacancies in January 2014 – triple the number advertised in January 2013  and experts predict that UK car production will reach record levels by 2017, creating even more jobs. The UK’s largest car manufacturer, Nissan, has started production on a new factory in Sunderland, providing jobs for more than 7,000 people.

> For some people. It’s generally understood locally that you have no chance at all of getting a job at Nissan if you’re aged over 30.

And we’d better hope that Nissan don’t decide they can make more profits elsewhere in the world and up sticks, thereby creating a domino effect amongst their suppliers.

I never feel putting all your eggs in one basket is a good idea, but it keeps happening. A few years ago, call centres were the way ahead for the region – until they decided to relocate overseas.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said:

“Manufacturing will play a key role in the rejuvenation of the British economy. It will help to increase the productivity of the country’s labour force, and help us catch up with our overseas competitors. The Bank of England has cited that greater economic productivity is needed to validate wage expectations, and manufacturing is one of the key vehicles to drive this forward.”

He added: “While the booming car industry is fuelling vacancy growth around the UK, the real future of the UK’s manufacturing industry lies in new technology. Manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing could remove the need for many elements in supply chains, bringing large parts of production back to the UK and increase demand for skilled labour in the industry.”

Despite an increase in the number of available jobs in the UK, the North-South divide remains. Nine of the top ten cities to find a job in January were concentrated in the South, while seven of the worst ten cities to find a job were in the North.

Cambridge is the easiest place to find work, according to Adzuna’s research, where jobs outnumber jobseeker’s four to one. This is in stark comparison to the Wirral where an average 27.28 people are applying for each job vacancy in the city.

Andrew Hunter said:

“It’s vital that government initiatives attempt to bridge the gaping North-South split in the jobs market. Encouraging manufacturing will have a positive effect on the whole economy, but it could further separate North from South. The North is home to British car manufacturing, and a collection of Jaguar Land Rover production plants are based in the Midlands. But our high-tech manufacturing plants are clustered in the South, with Cambridge and Guildford two key epicenters. It is this type of highly skilled manufacturing which we are re-shoring back to Britain. Once again, it will be the South that benefits the most.”

> So, no change there then.

Unemployed people looking for work will welcome news that the jobs market appears to be improving. However, the news for salary levels isn’t as positive.

> More advertised jobs does not necesserily mean more good jobs. It might  – from my personal experience as someone looking for work – just mean more non-jobs, part-time work and zero-hour contracts. Remove all those and what do your figures show then ?

I certainly haven’t noticed many jobs advertised  in the car industry locally

The average advertised salary fell by 1% to a 17-month low in January 2014 and now stands at £32,011 per annum, according to Adzuna.

Figures show that wages have fallen 4.6% since January 2013, which in monetary terms equates to a drop of £2,181 in advertised salaries, Adzuna say.

Click to download the research by Adzuna.

Source – Welfare News Service,  27 Feb 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/job-vacancies-approach-800000-north-south-divide-remains-wages-falling/

Why The Latest DWP ‘Fit For Work’ Figures Don’t Show The Full Picture

Latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claim that nearly a million people who applied for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) have been found fit for work.

The figures released this week by the DWP claim that a third (32%) of new claimants for ESA were assessed as being fit to work and capable of employment between October 2008 and March 2013 – totaling 980,400 people. In addition, the figures also show that more than a million others withdrew their claims for ESA before being assessed for eligibility through a Work Capability Assessment (WCA). This can be because of individuals recovering and either returning to work, or claiming a benefit more appropriate to their situation.

The claim has come under criticism from Disability Campaigners. A Disability Rights UK (DRUK) spokesman, speaking to BBC News, said “They are finding people fit for work when they aren’t and they are not even giving them the support they need to get a job. It is a disgrace”.

Indeed many of those passed as ‘fit for work’ will not, in fact, be capable of entering the workplace in any meaningful sense due to physical or mental health problems.

However, Mike Penning, Minister of State for Disabled People disagrees, saying “As part of the Government’s long-term economic plan, it is only fair that we look at whether people can do some kind of work with the right support – rather than just writing them off on long-term sickness benefits, as has happened in the past. With the right support, many people with an illness, health condition or disability can still fulfil their aspiration to get or stay in work, allowing them to provide for themselves and their family.”

A second report from the DWP, also released this week, appears to support what Mike Penning says, as it shows that the number of successful appeals against being found “fit for work” has also fallen sharply. This would suggest that the WCA and the way it is conducted by ATOS Healthcare – both of which have come under heavy criticism – are gradually becoming fairer to disabled people. A DWP spokesman said there has been “significant improvements” to the WCA, which has become “fairer and more accurate”, supports this. Adding, “If it is more fair and accurate and people are moving onto the right groups then of course we would welcome that.”

His comments, will not ‘sit well’ with the many families who have lost loved ones following being found ‘fit to work’. Earlier this week, Welfare News Service, reported on how DWP statistics published 9th July 2012 show that in total, between January 2011 and November 2011 10,600 claimants died within 6 weeks of being declared fit for work by Atos.

Indeed, it would appear that this is something they wish to hide as they have refused Freedom of Information Requests for subsequent years – 2012 and 2013 – claiming it would be “vexatious”. Furthermore, his comments will bring little comfort to the Holt family. This week, The Mirror reported on how bipolar patient Sheila Holt, 47, was sectioned in December after being taken off Income Support.

Days later she had a heart attack and fell into a coma. Despite this, benefit assessors are still sending letters, with ATOS asking why she is not working.

Her dad Kenneth said: “It’s just not right what they have done. It sent my daughter hypermanic” adding “She hadn’t had a job for 26 years. Anyone who knew her would tell you she couldn’t do a job.”

Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow said:

“I am in favour of welfare reform but trying to bulldoze through changes in a reckless and insensitive way is not the right way to go about it. This Government is causing a huge amount of damage and I have no doubt that Sheila’s story is being repeated in towns and cities up and down the country. She has a complex disability caused by severe trauma in her childhood and you cannot aggressively push vulnerable people, like Sheila, back into work because it can have, as we’ve seen, very serious health consequences.”

Consequences, which Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, appears to ignore. In a speech, described by DRUK as “more of the same old, same old”, he speaks of “a twilight world where life is dependent on what is given to you, rather than what you are able to create”, and pointed to the “falling numbers claiming the main out-of-work benefits”.

However, in the figures released by DWP, the opposite is true – at least for disabled people. In the first DWP report “early estimates” suggest that upto August 2013 there were 2,430,000 people claiming ESA and old-style incapacity benefit. Moreover, in November 2013 the figure had increased by 35000 to 2,465,000. However it is unclear if this trend will continue.

The second DWP report shows a continuing fall in numbers of claimants found ‘fit to work’ following a WCA. The figures range from a high of 65 per cent for those whose claims began in 2009 to 39 per cent for those whose claims started in the first quarter of 2013. In addition to this 39 per cent were placed in the support group and 23 per cent in the work-related activity group. The figures also show that there has been a significant drop in successful appeals against being found fit for work. Dropping from 41 per cent, for claims starting in early 2009, to 23 per cent for claims begun in the third quarter of 2012. The changes are suggested in the report, as being possibly caused by improvements made to the WCA by the coalition government in the wake of the independent reviews carried out by Professor Malcolm Harrington.

It would appear that the figures released by the DWP do not show people “languishing on welfare” as claimed by Iain Duncan Smith, nor do they appear to paint a picture of a social security system that he claims has become “distorted” under the previous Labour government and was too often an “entrapment – as it has been for a million people left on incapacity benefits for a decade or more”.

However, whilst the DWP still refuses to release figures showing how many have died within 6 weeks of being found ‘fit to work’ and stories, such as Shiela Holt, now in a coma after being found ‘fit to work’ are still being reported, maybe it is not “unnecessary fear” Labour is creating as Iain Duncan Smith says, as he mounts a renewed attack on Labour adding that the Conservatives will put further welfare changes at the heart of their 2015 election manifesto.

Source – Welfare News Service, 25 Jan 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/latest-dwp-fit-work-figures-dont-show-full-picture/