Monthly Archives: July 2013

Chris Cook

The Freedom of Information Act has a clause which allows public authorities to ignore a request for information “if the request is vexatious”. It says little about what members of the public can do if they encounter vexatious government departments.

The Cabinet Office – which includes the prime minister’s office – seems now to be openly refusing to comply with the transparency law, especially when it comes to the person of the prime minister. His courtiers seem to regard FoIA requests as lèse-majesté, and to see fighting transparency as part of their roles. Read more

Kate Allen

It’s a boy!

Britain is in the throes of Royal Baby Mania as it celebrates the birth of Prince William’s first child – a son, and future heir to the throne. What effect will the naming choice of new parents William and Kate have on the rest of the country? Read more

What’s the world’s most popular tipple?

It’s likely you won’t even have heard of it, let alone tried it. The world’s biggest-selling brands of spirits come from emerging markets – but they face increasing international competition, according to new research. Read more

A press release from the Department for Work and Pensions on Monday boasts that “the government’s wage incentive scheme has encouraged UK businesses to offer over 21,000 jobs to young people at risk of long-term unemployment”.

This sounds like great news. Youth unemployment remains persistently high. But a look at the statistics suggests the government’s claims are cause for scepticism.

Since April last year employers have been offered temporary wage subsidies worth up to £2,275 to encourage them to employ 18-24 year olds on the Work Programme, the government’s flagship scheme for trying to get young people into jobs. In July and December, eligibility was broadened: now employing any 18-24 year old who has been on benefits for more than six months can earn employers a subsidy.

The 21,000 claim by the DWP refers to the number of subsidy forms submitted by employers under the “youth contract”. An application can be made when a young person starts a job. As you can see from the table below, the numbers were steady at about 1,000 a month before increasing after the youth contract eligibility was widened.


Month Job starts
Apr-12 490
May-12 720
Jun-12 840
Jul-12 1,060
Aug-12 1,030
Sep-12 1,120
Oct-12 1,350
Nov-12 1,200
Dec-12 880
Jan-13 1,160
Feb-13 2,000
Mar-13 2,660
Apr-13 2,780
May-13 4,180
Total 21,460

Source: Management Information (from Work Programme providers and Jobcentre Plus Labour Market System)

However, starting a job is not the same thing as staying in a job.

 Read more

Kate Allen

“No, I don’t mind working, but I do mind dying”, the Detroit blues singer Joe Lee Carter sang in 1965. The song exemplified the bustle – and tensions – of a burgeoning industrial city. Carter was working on the production line at Ford’s Rouge plant at the time.

Unfortunately for today’s inhabitants, there hasn’t been much opportunity to work in Detroit in recent years – and there has been all too much chance of dying. Read more

Kate Allen

by Keith Fray and Kate Allen

England’s cricketers are battling Australia once again in an Ashes series. It started well – but with the second Test ongoing, the series is still up for grabs. Read more