Monthly Archives: February 2013

Kate Allen

As my colleague Norma Cohen has revealed, 72 is the new 30 according to scientists. And some data on conception rates in the UK shows that this increasing longevity has a particular effect on women’s lives.

Conception rates among older women have soared in the past 20 years, while those of younger women have declined, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics today. All age groups of 30 and above have increased, but the biggest rise is among the over-40s, where conception rates have more than doubled. By contrast the conception rate among under 16s is now the lowest since 1969, the first year for which we have comparable data. Read more

Kate Allen

by Kate Allen and Hannah Kuchler

Food-related law enforcement, that’s how.

On the face of it, the UK has a fairly strict food hygiene and safety system. But the rapidly-widening horsemeat scandal has prompted questions about the effectiveness of the UK’s food law enforcement systems. And a look at performance data collected by the the Food Standards Agency shows a picture of falling sampling and lower staffing levels.

Explore how your area compares in our interactive map at the bottom of the post Read more

Kate Allen

Yesterday’s housebuilding data painted a bleak picture. Last year was the worst for housebuilding starts since 2009, which was itself pretty uniquely awful.

It’s worth emphasising this point – since 2009 housebuilding activity has been at the lowest levels since the second world war. Just look at this:

Housing completions England Read more

Valentina Romei

Following on from 10 charts (part 1), which included the first five challenges facing the next Italian government, here are the next five as we head towards Italy’s general election.

1) Corruption

Corruption is a plight for the country that together with bureaucracy prevents an efficient allocation of resources and discourages investment. Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Italy 72nd out of 182 countries evaluated in 2012, three positions lower than the previous year. The perception of corruption of Italians is particularly high for the political system, which is one of the main reasons for the country’s political instability and poor governability.

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Italy goes to the polls on February 24 and 25, after Mario Monti, the country’s technocratic prime minister, announced his resignation in December. He is attempting to safeguard his legacy by standing as a campaigning politician, but Mr Monti faces strong competition.

This interactive graphic shows Italy’s economic standing and its regional disparities and what the newly elected government will have to grapple with once it comes to power.

Valentina Romei

Italian general elections on February 24 and 25 will determine the members of the Chamber of Deputies and of the Senate, the two houses of its parliament. This new parliament will face various structural factors behind the country’s weak performance.

Here is the first instalment of the country’s top challenges in 10 charts – another five are set to follow later in the week, so stay tuned.

1) Stagnant economy in the past decade

The Italian gross domestic product is lower than at the beginning of 2001 and the decline does not show signs of reversing. Even Spain and Greece with their deep economic contraction during the crisis are better off than at their levels at the start of the last decade thanks to their strong growth performance before 2008. Italy had sluggish growth even in the first half of the past decade and the additional output that has been created was totally wiped out with the crisis.

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Martin Stabe

The London Fire Brigade has published its incident data for the past four years in the London Data Store, the capital’s open data repository.

The data, originally obtained by the Financial Times under the Freedom of Information Act and published last week in our London Fire Brigade response times map, is being released as open data because of widespread interest in the potential impact of fire station closures.

The London Fire Authority is defying mayor Boris Johnson’s order to put the proposed cuts to public consultation. The £45m cut in the brigade’s budget over two years, would see 12 fire stations, 18 engines and 520 jobs go. Read more

Kate Allen

As my colleague Andrew Hill has pointed out, the Pope is not just the leader of one of the world’s great religions. He is also effectively the CEO of a large global organisation, and as such, he has financial concerns to consider.

Pope Benedict will leave the Vatican in a slightly troubled economic position. The Holy See made a €14.9m loss in 2011, its latest annual accounts showRead more

Kate Allen

The scandal over horsemeat found in processed meat products has echoes of a previous industrial food production crisis.

While the current controversy is not of the same severity, it is interesting to look back at the BSE scandal of the mid-1990s and its effects on consumer behaviour. The BSE saga hit British farming and meat retailing hard, as other countries scrambled to block British meat exports and consumers turned away from beef (despite some politicians’ best efforts). Read more

Two Conservative-led London councils have joined opposition mayor Boris Johnson’s plan to close or shrink fire stations in their boroughs as part of £48m in budget cuts over two years.

This interactive map shows the speed with London Fire Brigade can currently respond to incidents at the most detailed level ever published.Using the Freedom of Information Act, the Financial Times obtained data on nearly 500,000 incidents that the London Fire Brigade has responded to since introducing its current incident management system in November 2008.

 Read more

Kate Allen

by Kate Allen and Norma Cohen

The latest annual English Housing Survey was released today, and contains some startling evidence of the country’s dramatic shift away from home ownership and towards the private rental market.

We already know that the private rented sector is the only part of the housing market to have increased in value since the recession. This new data tells us why that is. Read more

For the past two years, the Financial Times has had exclusive access to the National Pupil Database, which provides anonymous exam performance data for every individual secondary school pupil in England.

Using this detailed data, we have compiled an alternative set of statistics to the traditional measures, which are now set to be reassessed. Read more

Chris Cook

Later this morning, Michael Gove, education secretary, will announce several big things. First and foremost, he is dropping his plan to introduce the EBC, his proposed new qualification for 16 year-olds, which has been attacked as fatally flawed since its announcement. Second, he will unveil details of the new curriculum. Both will deservedly absorb lots of column inches.

But Mr Gove will also announce a new pair of measures by which league tables will be constructed. This change might actually be the most important thing he does during his entire reign. League tables set out the incentives that drive schools. They define success and failure.

So what do we know? Schools will, first, be assessed on the share of pupils getting Cs or better in English and maths. A second measure will record whether children in each school do better or worse than children of similar ability – as measured by standardised tests at the age of 11.

This value-added score will gauge performance across English and maths, as well as three more core subjects and their three best ‘other’ subjects. This replaces the current measure – a crude tally of how many children get Cs or better in English, maths and three other subjects.

 Read more

Kate Allen

London cable car

(c) Bloomberg

The latest weekly passenger data for London mayor Boris Johnson’s Thames cable car is out – and it’s not good.

The cable car (sponsored by Emirates, and thus officially known as the Emirates Air Line) launched last summer and was billed as a new route for the city’s frazzled commuters, as well as a tourist attraction and a catalyst for regeneration in the areas it serves. It crosses the Thames between the Greenwich peninsula and Silvertown, to the north of Canary Wharf.

The cable car cost £60m to build and will cost Londoners £6m a year to run (Emirates has contributed £36m in sponsorship, spread over 10 years). It can carry up to 2,500 people an hour in each direction* – the equivalent of 30 buses. That equates to a maximum capacity of 65,000 people per day, or 455,000 a week (for comparison London’s busiest Tube line, the Northern, carries nearly a million passengers a day).

But TFL’s passenger figures show that the cable car isn’t getting anywhere near that level of use. On average our calculations suggest it may be* running at just 7 per cent of capacity. Read more

Valentina Romei

The number of self-employed in the UK rose by 60 per cent between 2011 and 2012 and now accounts for about 14 per cent of all people in employment.

This is a striking contrast with the rest of the OECD countries where the proportion of self-employed is generally declining. In 2011, there were between 2 and 5 percentage points fewer self-employed in South Korea, Turkey, Portugal, Japan and Italy than six years before. Most of the other OECD countries reduced their proportion of self-employed even if more slowly. Read more

Valentina Romei

Berlusconi, the billionaire former Italian prime minister pledged to reimburse Italians €4bn for an unpopular property tax. This is probably the first time he has promised to give money back, but it is definitely not the first time he has pledged to cut taxes.

Berlusconi lavished promises of tax cuts periodically throughout the past decade, but he failed to translate them into reality, even when he was in power from 2001 to 2006 and again from 2008 to the end of 2011.

In fact, according to the OECD the average income tax rate increased in Italy across all types of households, whereas it was reduced in most other OECD countries. Read more

Kate Allen

Rio De Janeiro is infamous for its high crime rate.

As it prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, the city is bracing for a flood of international tourism. Given its crime-ridden reputation, how well are its police doing in tackling the problem? Read more

As you pass the shop window, a beautiful coat catches your eye. You stop, gaze at it a while, spot the price and, regretfully, move on.

Little do you know that WiFi sensors in the window have used your smartphone to detect your presence outside the shop. Not only that, but they have clocked how many people as well as you have looked at the display, how many have then entered the store, and how long they stayed there. They may even be prompting store managers to lower the price.

This scenario, described by the FT’s Companies Editor Sarah Gordon in the introduction to the FT’s latest ebook, Decoding Big Data, is not a vision of how shopping will be monitored in the future. It is how stores are tracking shoppers today.

 Read more

Kate Allen

An interesting picture of the changing face of the UK housing market is provided by an analysis of census data by estate agency Savills, given exclusively to the FT.

The private rented sector is the main success story – it’s the only part of the market to have increased in value since the recession, and now makes up 17 per cent of the UK’s housing stock by units and 18 per cent by value, Savills found.

UK housing stock by value and tenure

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Kate Allen

by Kate Allen and Keith Fray

Today’s encouraging US non-farm payrolls data presents a puzzle – it contradicts the quarterly GDP figures that were published earlier this week. Employment is up, but the economy has apparently shrunk. Britain has been facing a similar contradiction for some time now. Read more