UK

Wokingham is the top area in Great Britain for technology jobs, with the silicon sector accounting for more than five times as large a share of its labour market than the national average.

According to a report compiled by data firm Markit for KPMG, the south east of England is host to almost two in every five local authorities with technology employment location quotients (LQs) greater than 1.0, indicating that tech jobs comprise a larger proportion of the local job market than the equivalent figure across England, Wales and Scotland.

Sources: Markit Economics for KPMG, using ONS data Read more

Government climate change policies will save the typical household £41 in energy bills by 2030 according to figures released by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, although the same policies will increase the retail price of electricity by 41 per cent.

One of the ways DECC achieves its net savings figure is by assuming sizeable energy efficiency savings over the coming decades. By 2030, the document projects efficiency savings equivalent to 5 per cent of what the typical dual fuel bill would be were the policies not put in place.

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Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) today announced that its typical dual fuel energy bill will rise in price by 8.2 per cent in November.

SSE is blaming the price hike on increases in wholesale energy costs, network distribution charges and changes to the government schemes energy companies pay into. SSE’s own figures, however, show the biggest increase in any component of the bill comes under other costs at its end including profit margins.

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Chris Cook

A few weeks ago, the Financial Times leader column – the voice of the newspaper – issued a fairly damning verdict on the Information Commissioner’s Office about its weak enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act. Big central government departments – particularly the Cabinet Office – routinely flout the law. The ‘paper wrote:

The Cabinet Office scarcely pretends to comply. And why would it? Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, is responsible for enforcing the act – and he has proved to be a paper tiger. He has the power to investigate, demand documents and prosecute the non-compliant. But his preferred regulatory tool is forbearance. So the worst that departments have to fear from refusing to follow the law is being asked to have another go at answering requests at some later date.

Mr Graham replied fairly grumpily on our letters page.

…we served a decision notice against the Department for Education, clearly setting out our position in general and on the specific point that the secretary of state’s private email was caught by the act (in the circumstances of that case). We also served a further decision notice ordering the Cabinet Office to comply with a request for information relating to the prime minister’s use of non-GSI email accounts. Non-compliance with the commissioner’s decision notice is contempt of court.

The record shows that the Information Commissioner’s Office regularly makes difficult decisions that challenge Whitehall – and we are not afraid to make them

It was not terribly convincing – and was filleted by others fairly comprehensively. But last week, the Information Commissioner’s Office released some documents in response to a FoIA request about the letter. The surprising part of the release is that it suggests the ICO’s staff not only wrote the letter, but are convinced by their arguments. Given that, it is worth unpacking the claims it makes – not least for their benefit. Read more

Kate Allen

US economic growth has been revised upwards to 2.5 per cent. A pretty impressive rate, given that the UK is currently stagnating at just 0.7 per cent. On the other hand, it looks less impressive when compared to China’s booming 7.6 per cent (even though, for China, that’s a slowdown).

But wait a minute. Economists across the land are howling in pain at this jumble of misinterpretation. These rates aren’t comparable at all – because they’re all measuring different things. Read more

Kate Allen

The number of working-age households in the UK has fallen for the first time since data collection began nearly 20 years ago, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Household growth has been fairly steady over the past two decades, with the overall population continuing to grow, and this is the first time figures* have actually dropped. Pressures such as low real wage growth and rising housing costs have created economic constraints in recent years which could help to explain the dramatic shift.

UK households

In particular, the numbers of single-person and lone parent households have fallen, hinting at housing affordability pressures. The number of couples with dependent children (under 18s) rose year-on-year, suggesting that families may be staying together rather than separating. Read more