Beyond the Barriers: UK Internet Access Quarterly Update, 2013 Q4 (The Digital Divide)

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Key Facts

• 44.3 million adults (87%) in the UK had used the Internet in Q4 2013, an increase of 1.2 million since Q4 2012

• 6.7 million adults (13%) had never used the Internet, falling by 0.7 million since Q4 2012

• Almost all (99%) 16 to 24 year olds had used the Internet, compared with just over a third (36%) of adults aged over 75

• Men (89%) were more likely to be Internet users than women (85%)

• London had the highest proportion of Internet users (90%); Northern Ireland the lowest (79%).

Users and Non Users

44,251,000 people have ever used the Internet, of whom 7,856,000 fell within the Equality Act definition of disabled. Equality Act disabled refers to those who self-assess that they have a disability in line with the Equality Act definition of disability.

6,693,000 people had never used the Internet, of whom 3,561,000 fell within the Equality Act definition of disabled. A disproportionate number of people with disabilities have never used the Internet.

The full detailed data sets are here:

Age (Tables 1A and 1B)
Sex (Tables 1A and 1B)
Disability (Tables 1A and 1B)
Age and Sex (Tables 2A and 2B)
Ethnic Group (Tables 3A and 3B)
Regional Distribution (Tables 4A to 5B)
Earnings (Tables 6A and 6B)
Recent Internet Users (Tables 7A and 7B)
Internet Access Quarterly Update, Q4 2013 (Excel sheet 330Kb)

Released: 19 February 2014 (Latest).
Next edition: 14 May 2014.

All tables contain data for calendar quarters:

Q1 – January – March
Q2 – April – June
Q3 – July – September
Q4 – October – December.

Overview

User Engagement

Background Notes

Statistical Contacts

QS208EW – Religion (2011 Census Results for all usual residents)

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Christian: 494,358 (Birmingham);   33,243,175 (England and Wales)
Buddhist: 4,780 (Birmingham);   247,743 (England and Wales)
Hindu: 22,362 (Birmingham);   816,633 (England and Wales)
Jewish: 2,205 (Birmingham);   263,346 (England and Wales)
Muslim: 234,411 (Birmingham);   2,706,066 (England and Wales)
Sikh: 32,376 (Birmingham);   423,158 (England and Wales)
Other religion: 5,646 (Birmingham);   240,530 (England and Wales)
No religion: 206,821 (Birmingham);  14,097,229 (England and Wales)
Religion not stated: 70,086 (Birmingham);   4,038,032 (England and Wales).

All categories: 1,073,045 (Birmingham);   56,075,912 ((England and Wales).

This is a person’s current religion, or if the person does not have a religion, ‘no religion’.  No determination is made about whether a person was a practicing member of a religion.

Unlike other census questions where missing answers are imputed, this question was voluntary, and where no answer was provided the response is categorised as ‘not stated’.

 

UK JSA Claimant Off-flows for February 2014 by Type

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Found work or increased work to more than 16 hours a week: 124,905 or 41.4%

Claimed benefit other than JSA: 10,765 or 3.6%

Government supported training: 3,250 or 1.0%

Education or approved training: 2,545 or 0.8%

Gone abroad: 6,855 or 2.3%

Ceased claiming: 10,450 or 3.5%

Failed to sign: 93,210 or 30.9%

Other reasons: 6,535 or 2.2%

Not known: 43,255 or 14.3%

Total: 301,770

A. Data rounded to nearest 5.

B. Claimant count figures do not yet include claimants of Universal Credit.  Further information is available at http://www.nomisweb.co.uk/articles/742.aspx.

C. The percentage of off-flows with a “not known” or “failed to sign” destination has increased since the start of the series (representing 44% of total UK off-flows in July 2009).  This is because the completion levels of the forms filled in by JSA leavers have decreased.  Many of these unknown leavers will have moved into employment. (Editor’s comment; “will have” would seem to be very contentious given current high level of sanctions)

UK JSA Claimant Off-flows for March 2014 by Type (Detailed Break Down)

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Found work: 108,380 or 43.2%
Increases work to 16 plus hours per week: 2,170 or 0.9%
Gone abroad: 5,815 or 2.3%
Claimed Income Support: 2,920 or 1.2%
Claimed Incapacity Benefit: 2,015 or 0.8%
Claimed another benefit: 3,300 or 1.3%
Gone to full-time education: 1,050 or 0.4%
Gone onto approved training: 145 or 0.1%
Transfer to Govt-supported training: 2,455 or 1.0%
Retirement age reached: 250 or 0.1%
Automatic credits payable: 5 or 0.0%
Claims back-to-work bonus: 0 or 0.0%
Gone to prison: 1,690 or 0.7%
Attending court: 0 or 0.0%
New claim review: 570 or 0.2%
Defective claim: 2,250 or 0.9%
Ceased claiming: 8,250 or 3.3%
Deceased: 80 or 0.0%
Not known: 35,155 or 14.0%
Failed to sign: 74,395 29.6%
Total: 250,920

A. Data rounded to nearest 5.

B. Claimant count figures do not yet include claimants of Universal Credit. Further information is available at http://www.nomisweb.co.uk/articles/742.aspx.

C. The percentage of off-flows with a “not known” or “failed to sign” destination has increased since the start of the series (representing 44% of total UK off-flows in July 2009).  This is because the completion levels of the forms filled in by JSA leavers have decreased.  Many of these unknown leavers will have moved into employment.

There Are More Things That Unite People on Social Security Than Divide Them

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Many of the barriers to work identified within Beyond the Barriers are faced by other disadvantaged groups to some extent.  Lone parents are not unused to being vilified in the media, but they are nothing like the people that some claim them to be.

Less than 2 per cent of single parents are teenagers; the median age of single parents is 38.1 and around 8 per cent of single parents (186,000) are fathers.

The employment rate for single parents varies depending on the age of their youngest child.  Once their children are 12 or over, the single parents’ employment rate is similar to, or higher than, the employment rate for mothers in couples (71 per cent of single parents whose child is 11 to 15 are in work).

Incidentally, where single parents are not working, this is often because there are health issues that make work difficult; 33 per cent of unemployed single parents have a disability or longstanding illness and 34 per cent have a child with a disability.  Check out Gingerbread Statistics to learn more, including the fact that the average duration of single parenthood is around 5 years.

#WOW The Work Programme, Flawed from the Outset #IDS? #DWProud #GE2015

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I do not think; if I had written Beyond the Barriers that I would have devoted nine pages to the Work Programme. I would just have written, scrap it and recycle the money to use to better effect elsewhere. However, it is best I guess to not lightly dismiss it out of hand.

In my opinion, the WP has failed all those participating within it, regardless of their personal circumstances. The WP was doomed to fail from the off. The WP was predicated on the idea that the private sector knows best and that payment by results would help the full spectrum of participants within it. Neither assumption has been proven and was not proven when Employment Zone providers roamed some of the most deprived areas of England. They often did not know best and to get the full tranche of money per person they focused on the easiest to help into work, many of whom did not need the help to find and secure a job. Sometimes, I feel I am living through a particularly depressing version of Groundhog Day.

Introducing a major programme with neither a pilot nor pathfinder phase was a gamble and, as Beyond the Barriers shows one that has failed completely. IDS has put most of DWP’s back to work support on Red 13 and watched the roulette ball slot neatly into Black 13. Alas, the fashion for impeaching Ministers belongs to another age.

The private sector said it could give effective back to work support for next to nothing on the basis that the total payments, the bulk paid out on job sustainment (see page 7), would replenish reserves or pay off loans incurred during the work support phase of WP. Moreover, they were incentivised to help those with greater barriers to work by the provision of greater job sustainment fees for helping the same into employment. Such an incentive would, according to those wedded to the market make sure that those furthest from the labour market would receive greater help than those nearer to it. WP providers are obviously ignorant about how markets ‘should’ work, preferring short term, quick wins to long term, slow wins, the extra money for the latter notwithstanding. Again, those needing least help have been the focus of a private sector led, payment by results initiative designed to focus on those furthest from the labour market.

One area where the WP set out from the start not to imitate the market was in terms of how participants are attached to a provider. One does not get to choose to whom one is sent. One is randomly allocated to ensure all the providers within a particular area get an equal share of the participants. No possibility then for a proxy market mechanism to develop to show which providers in an area are building up the best reputation for delivery. Consequently, there is little information that would allow potential participants to vote with their feet and opt for the best local provider. In fact, once allocated to a provider it is almost impossible to switch to another. And, if you move to an area outside of the one you were living in when allocated to the WP, that provider is expected to continue supporting you, albeit at a distance by telephone.

DWP has cleverly side-stepped the whole issue of monitoring quality through complaints by insisting that WP participants pursue complaints with their provider. A common practice that, once one has exhausted the provider process and got nowhere would allow for a complaint to be addressed to the provision funder. Genuine complaints would then feed into provider quality monitoring. In the case of the WP, complaints leaving a WP provider progress direct to the Independent Case Examiner, DWP’s external Ombudsman.

I will not go into the ridiculous support being offered to those participating in the WP. Beyond the Barriers in devastating detail demolishes any credibility that the black box approach ever had. However, alongside not using their specialist sub contractors (and forcing some of them out of business thereby), WP providers have been, it is alleged, sneaking participants on to back to work provision being funded and provided by other organisations.

Such covert activity maximises the financial outcome for the WP provider, if someone enters work, whilst compromising the projects delivered by others. Other organisations that may be subsequently taken to task by their funders for not having sufficiently robust audit procedures in place. The EU, in particular does not countenance double funding (or substitution) and the WP is part funded by the EU, whatever Guto Bebb, the Conservative MP for Conway (see 12:27) thinks. DWP, as a Co-Financing Organisation has matched WP funding at source to obtain that status. Consequently, no one on WP should be referred to EU funded provision, unless the project may explicitly accept such referrals.

In addition, those organisations suspecting that they have received covert referrals from the WP have, of course not had a share in any subsequent work related payments received by the WP provider. They, therefore, receive no recompense for WP participants unintentionally elbowing aside those voluntarily seeking help and for who the funding for these projects’ was originally sought. A further waste of (often public) money to add on to the money directly wasted by DWP spending on the WP.

Conclusion

The coup de grâce for the WP is that a black box approach assumes a bespoke package of support for each and every individual. Why, therefore, do WP providers, who freely entered into contracts to deliver a black box, need to refer to any other organisation, except perhaps their sub contractors and certain specialist providers on a one off basis? Trying to refer to provision not funded through WP is a tacit admission by providers that the black box does not work and/or the upfront participation and subsequent payments are insufficient to provide effective support.

They Are All Skivers Down at the Jobcentre, Including the Staff!

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In all the debate about welfare ‘reform’ the small matter of the Jobcentre network’s original primary function has got a bit lost. That function being to create a local labour market for jobseekers, both the employed and the workless and, crucially employers. Jobcentres used to provide a fairly efficient public employment service, free at the point of delivery.

In fact, before the privatisation of Professional and Executive Recruitment the Jobcentre network even addressed the needs of the whole labour market. PER charged for its services and competed with the private sector for business. Naturally, it had to go under the Tories and was sold off to Captain Bob Maxwell, who ran it down after asset stripping its client records.

Today, the Jobcentre’s labour market operation is known for its farcical, almost fully automated vacancy handling system and Universal Jobsmatch. The former seems to be designed to make the case for dropping any decent service for employers whilst the latter seems to have been built around the sanctions regime. And only having one CV on UJ flies in the face of advice about the best ways in which to find and secure a job.

The current debate also focuses around the supply side of the labour market whilst ignoring the demand side. Employers, in my opinion have too easy a ride when it comes to the whole issue of reducing unemployment. I present Exhibit A in evidence.

The Ageist Employer

This particular incident arose during my second spell in the Jobcentre at Washwood Heath. We took a call from an employer seeking to fill a position in his engineering firm. He wanted, if memory serves me correctly to recruit a setter/machine operator. Such men, they usually were men then were as rare as hens’ teeth. They were the elite of their industry.

The employer not only wanted to recruit such a person, but they had to have had 30 years of experience in engineering and be aged under 50. A hard to fill job with a restricted age range was bad enough, but I think there was an issue about how much he wanted to pay too. He would not, therefore, be likely to attract anyone in secure employment at that time.

We were heavily into Total Quality Management at this time. Hence, we, rather than telling the employer he was wasting his time gathered the evidence to prove our point. The number of people meeting his minimum requirements, aged between 46 and 49 years and 11 months or thereabouts was minimal. And of those we found we doubted that they would be suitable for interview. However, we had around 12 people, aged over 50 who met his criteria and seemed suitable for interview. We usually looked for a field of between 10 and 15 when making submissions to one job so we were well within that range.

The employer refused to see them. We pointed out that they met most of his criteria, were unemployed so he did not have to lure them away from another employer and we emphasised the benefits of employing an older person. There are many, in fact. Still he refused to give them an interview, even with the attendant offer of a Work Trial where appropriate.

We then read in the Evening Mail, our local newspaper that this employer had gone to them with a story about the waster’s down at the Jobcentre, the staff as well as the unemployed. Civil Service policy is not to discuss individual cases without the permission of the other party so we were unable to provide a credible rebuttal. Someone at the Mail sold the story to the Daily Star. Thankfully, as now the Daily Star is not a newspaper likely to cause one to lose much sleep!

In a nutshell, employers are not as perfect as so many would like us to think. They often discriminate, even against their own interests. They also stigmatise the workless, further reinforcing the negative attitude that wider society displays towards those out of work. And just to clarify, the UK public employment service may not refuse to handle a vacancy, unless a law is being broken and, at the time of this incident age discrimination was legal and there was no National Minimum Wage to create a wage floor in the labour market.