Archive for October 2012

The politics of childcare are heating up. Here's why

Date: 27. October 2012
Gavin Kelly

This post originally appeared on Gavin's New Statesman blog 

Often an issue only gets the attention it deserves due to a shift in the wider political context.  And so it may be with our creaking childcare system. Despite unprecedented increases in public support – and major improvements - it’s still the case that during the Labour years childcare never received anything like the concerted attention going to schools and hospitals.   

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When a growing economy still feels bad

Date: 25. October 2012
James Plunkett

This post orginally appeared on Coffeehouse

 David Cameron was right; the good news has kept on coming. This morning’s first estimate from the ONS puts GDP growth in the third quarter at 1.0 percent. Cue much justified squabbling over what the 'real' number is. A significant portion of this growth will be a one-off, post-Jubilympics bounce-back, suggesting slower underlying growth. As Jonathan pointed out yesterday, ONS first estimates have a margin of error of 0.7 percentage points, meaning that even with these factors...



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A falling reliance on state pensions?

Date: 24. October 2012
Giselle Cory

New data out from the ONS today gives an insight into the changing financial realities of the UK’s retired households. Stretching over 30 years from 1977 to 2010/11, the data paint a picture of rising pensioner income alongside a shift from state to private sources.  Private income, such as that from private pensions, employment and investments, has grown considerably more than state income, as shown below. State income, which includes pensions and other cash benefits (such as Pension Credit and Winter Fuel Allowance), doubled over the period while private income nearly quadrupled.

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Measuring unemployment: the claimant count gap

Date: 18. October 2012
Matthew Whittaker

A rare good news story from the ONS, with the latest labour market statistics bucking the trend for gloomy economic data. In June to August, unemployment fell to 2.53 million and the total number of people in employment (29.59 million) reached a new high. Yet, while the number of people out of work was down by 50,000, the number of Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claimants fell by just 12,000 . What accounts for this startling difference? 

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Give or take: who’s making a positive net tax contribution?

Date: 12. October 2012
Alex Hurrell

In recent days there has been a lot of discussion about net tax contribution, and in particular at what point in the income distribution households start to make a positive net contribution, i.e. pay in through taxes more than they receive in cash benefits. However, there are two issues of critical importance when considering net tax contribution levels: (1) it matters whether retired households are included under consideration or not; (2) secondly, the specific measure of net tax contribution also matters.

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George Osborne's strivers have a shock in store

Date: 11. October 2012
Gavin Kelly

Beware politicians serving up easy distinctions to please and appease their party faithful. This week at the Conservative conference, the favoured divide was between "strivers and shirkers", a refinement of one of the oldest tropes in politics – the deserving and undeserving poor.

Devices like these generally work far better in the conference hall than they do in messy real life. But this particular distinction matters, and not just because it serves to reinforce the prevailing sentiment that spending on benefits is too generous – it also obscures the real nature of the coming welfare cuts.

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The impact of unemployment reaches beyond the out-of-work

Date: 4. October 2012
Matthew Whittaker

It’s a fairly obvious point that pay rises are connected to unemployment levels: the more people there are ready to step into work, the less scope employees have to push for higher wages. Of course the connection is not quite so straightforward in practice, and pay trends are affected by many more factors than unemployment alone. But data drawn over time and across countries points to a clear relationship.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the impact is more marked at the lower end of the earnings distribution than in the top half. This reflects the fact that the unemployed are more often drawn from the less skilled, meaning that they are closer substitutes for lower paid workers.

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