Monthly Archives: January 2012

Incapacity for Work Benefit Claimant Numbers 1972-2010

The report Trends in the Employment of Disabled People in Britain from the University of Essex has a graph showing numbers of people of people claiming incapacity or equivalent benefit from 1972 -2010.  This is really useful as it allows us to compare what happened with incapacity numbers over periods of both Tory and Labour Government.

On page 4 the report says:

The graph shows a steady rise in the number of men and women receiving benefit on grounds of incapacity for work, from just under 600,000 in 1975 to just under 2.5 million in 1995 – a fourfold increase, equivalent to 7 per cent growth each year (compound).

After 1995, though, the rise in the number of claims in payment has either reduced or stopped, depending on which of the two series is being considered.”

This helps fill in the gap highlighted in my previous post about easily accessible government stats on IB only going back to 1999.

Shelter Housing Databank

The Shelter Housing Databank allows you to pull out local stats on housing need, affordability, supply and other measures.  You can pull information off at a regional level or at the level of a local authority.

You can get stats for:

  • Housing Need (including stats for homelessness and council waiting lists)
  • Affordability (including stats for house prices, rents and income-house price ratios)
  • Supply (including new homes built and vacant properties)
  • Social and Welfare (including housing benefit claimants and unemployment stats)

In most cases you can get stats going back until 1997, although for some reason most of the welfare stats only go back until 2009.  It also doesn’t include any stats on Houses in Multiple Occupation.

It’s a really helpful website that in most cases allows you to customise the data you need and pull it off in a variety of formats.

Here, for example, is a quick report I pulled off for all ‘housing need’ indicators in Southampton.

Check out the full site here: Shelter Housing Databank

UPDATE: You can also get a number of useful policy papers from the Shelter Policy Library.

Local Education Stats

The Department for Education website allows you to look for key performance indicators for how schools are doing in a particular area, right down to the ward level.  You can look for:

You can also, using the link on the top right of the page, look for the results of individual schools, which includes Academies and private schools.

DfE: Education and Skills in Your Area

Before the 2010 election, these stats went back to 1997.  Now they only go back to 2005.  Hmmm.

Energy Jargon Explained

The previously posted Committee on Climate Change Report on Household Energy Bills has a useful box with a quick explanation of different commonly used energy policy terms.  I’ve found energy policy to contain some of the most unjustifiably inscrutable jargon, so I thought it was worth reproducing this box in full.  This is on page 5 of the report.

Health warning: the descriptions for ECO, the Carbon Floor Price and for Electricity Market Reform are probably a little optimistic.

Impact of green measures on household energy bills

The independent Committee on Climate Change has a report showing what % of household energy bills can be attributed to “green” measures.

Looking at the impact of green measures between 2004-2010 (p12), the report says:

(c) Current total energy bills
Combining our analysis of electricity and gas bills for the typical dual-fuel household indicates that the average combined bill increased from £605 per household in 2004 to £1,060 in 2010. Of this £455 increase (75%, compared to general inflation of 16% over the same period):

  • Around £380 was unrelated to low-carbon measures, with £290 due to increases in wholesale costs reflecting increases in the price of gas and supplier costs and £70 due to increasing transmission and distribution costs, and £20 due to VAT.
  • Around £75 was due to low-carbon policy costs, within which it is important to distinguish between costs of £30 towards decarbonising the energy mix through support for investments in low-carbon power generation including renewables, and costs of £45 for funding of energy efficiency measures, without which bills could have increased further over this period.

Our analysis therefore clearly shows that it is not the case that energy bills are currently high due to costs of low-carbon measures. From 2004 to 2010 bills increased by £455 to £1,060, primarily in response to increased wholesale gas costs, with only £30 (7% of the increase and 3% of the bill) due to the costs of decarbonising the generation mix, and £45 (10% of the increase and 5% of the bill) due to funding improvements to the energy efficiency of homes.

Here’s the full report:

Household Energy Bills – impacts of meeting carbon budgets

And here’s some illustrative graphs:

The Coalition Agreement

The Coalition Agreement covers the planned legislative programme for the Tory-Lib Dem Government.

It’s like a manifesto, only no-one knew what was in it until after the election.

Still, it’s an important resource in holding the government to account on their own terms.

The Coalition Agreement


Incapacity Benefit numbers since 1999

Quarterly statistical summaries from DWP show how many people claim Incapacity Benefit and its successor, ESA, since 1999.  IB itself was introduced in 1995- not sure why the stats don’t go back that bit further.  I’m also looking for stats of Invalidity Benefit and Sickness Benefit prior to 1995, if anyone knows where these might be.

Here’s the latest quarterly DWP stats publication for November 2011 (pdf)

The stats for IB claimant numbers (and other types of benefit claimant) are on page 7, and are reproduced below.


Other useful welfare statistics links…

*someone at DWP has a sense of humour

Labour Manifestos since 1900

This website lists every Labour manifesto from 1900 – 2001:

Archive of UK Labour Party Election Manifestos

You can see the 2005 and 2010 manifesto below.

Labour Manifesto 2005

Labour Manifesto 2010


One of the things that’s bugged me for a long time is how difficult it still is to get to the raw data that (hopefully) lies behind much of the decision making in politics*.  For all the talk of the internet empowering ordinary people**, the data most of us have easy access to is usually processed, spun, misinterpreted and misunderstood by a whole array of wonks, hacks and wannabe wonk-hacks before we ever get sight of it.

If we do ever want to track back and find the report that was the source of a particular story, it’s not usually easy going.  Big news organisations tend not to link directly back to source material (presumably because they’re worried about losing their valued role as interlocutor for the public good).  Even if you can find the relevant report through dedicated googling, usually the table you’re looking for will be embedded in a 1000 page pdf document somewhere.  It won’t leap out at you and encourage you to make informed decisions.

So while we may be in a uniquely privileged historical position in terms of empowering individuals to share opinions, we haven’t done nearly as good a job at sharing facts.  The net result of this, I think, is a political blogosphere in the UK that emits far more heat than light, and one that I regularly want to give a collective slap to.

I’m of the view that the internet has enough opinions for now.  If you’d like to hear my opinin about something, buy me a drink.  I have loads to go around.

What I will instead be trying to do here is post factual resources that I think are useful for people interested in left of centre politics.  Obviously this is a voluntary project, so posts will tend towards what I find interesting, what I come across in the course of an average day and what I have time to sift through.  But hopefully, in a matter of ice-ages, I’ll build up a useful bank of stuff that might actually be vaguely useful.

And if this doesn’t work out and fact finding turns out to be too demanding or dull, well, there’s always Comment is Free!

* to be entirely fair, briefing notes from the House of Commons Library, which are parliamentary researchers’ best tool for appearing far more informed and savvy than we have any right to be, are now available for everyone, here: Research Briefings, UK Parliament.  This is a Good development.

** ordinary people with a smartphone.  And a twitter account.  And who have basic literacy.  And a decent internet connection.  And friends.

The Science of Climate Change: Hockey Sticks

The gold standard for evidence-based arguments for tackling climate change remains the Stern Review, published by the UK Government in 2006.  It’s an independent report that looks at the costs associated with tackling climate change, and the costs of not tackling climate change.

Chapter 1 is devoted to the science of climate change, and is a useful resource for rebutting popular climate change denier myths.

I particularly like this bit (p6):

Box 1.1 The “Hockey Stick” Debate.

Much discussion has focused on whether the current trend in rising global temperatures is unprecedented or within the range expected from natural variations. This is commonly referred to as the “Hockey Stick” debate as it discusses the validity of figures that show sustained temperatures for around 1000 years and then a sharp increase since around 1800 (for example, Mann et al. 1999, shown as a purple line in the figure below).

Some have interpreted the “Hockey Stick” as definitive proof of the human influence on climate. However, others have suggested that the data and methodologies used to produce this type of figure are questionable (e.g. von Storch et al. 2004), because widespread, accurate temperature records are only available for the past 150 years. Much of the temperature record is recreated from a range of ‘proxy’ sources such as tree rings, historical records, ice cores, lake sediments and corals.

Climate change arguments do not rest on “proving” that the warming trend is unprecedented over the past Millennium. Whether or not this debate is now settled, this is only one in a number of lines of evidence for human induced climate change. The key conclusion, that the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will lead to several degrees of warming, rests on the laws of physics and chemistry and a broad range of evidence beyond one particular graph.