New ONS products to help child poverty analysis

Painting pictures of place series local profiles - centre for regional and local statistics - Office for National Statistics

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have created three products to assist understanding and analysis of child poverty in a locality, as part of  a collaborative project between the ONS East and West Midlands Regional Statisticians, and ONS Area Based Analysis.

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Unemployment in West Midlands levels off

Job Centre PlusThe labour market figures released September 2010 show a mixed picture for the West Midlands, with increases in employment and decreases in unemployment, but evidence of a slowing of the recovery.

The claimant count reduced by just 600 out of 159,700, and the unemployment rate remained steady at 8.4%.

Worryingly, unemployment and the claimant count seem to be levelling off at a higher level than they were prior to the recession. With the impact of cuts in public spending yet to be seen, this could mean any knock-on effects in the form of future rises in unemployment could wipe out the recovery seen so far.

Key headlines

Unemployment in the West Midlands has fallen again, but the rate of decrease is slowing. There are 226,000 unemployed people in the West Midlands – 13,000 fewer than last quarter, and 58,000 fewer than a year ago. However, in order to return to the July 2008 level of 163,000, we would need to reduce the number of people unemployed by a further 63,000.

The number of people in employment rose by 38,000 over the last quarter. However, there are still fewer people in employment than prior to the recession, and those working part-time now make up a greater proportion of those in employment.

The claimant rate saw a very small decrease of just 600 this month.

Overall the indications are that the falls in unemployment are beginning to level off. Furthermore, the upcoming public sector cuts and the knock-on effects in the private sector are likely to result in renewed increases in unemployment.

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West Midlands particularly vulnerable to public sector job cuts

Public sector employment has grown significantly in recent years across the UK and has been the key driver of the economy’s expansion. But proposals announced by the government to make £83bn worth of cuts in public sector spending are forecast to lead to the loss of up to 600,000 public sector jobs across the UK over the next 6 years, according to a study1 by Oxford Economics.

The West Midlands economy is particularly vulnerable to the impact of the cuts. Between 1998 and 2008 (latest available figures), the West Midlands saw the most significant increase in dependence on public sector employment in the country2.

The share of jobs accounted for by the public sector increased from 22% in 1998 to 27% in 2008, a rise of 5 percentage points, bringing total public sector employment to some 637,000.

We forecast that between 2010 and 2016 there will be a net loss of nearly 50,000 jobs across the West Midlands and, based on the ratio of the number of private sector jobs dependent on public sector spending and the associated supply chain nationally, a further 310,000 jobs are at risk at private sector firms directly or indirectly reliant on public sector spending3.

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Office for National Statistics West Midlands newsletter July-August 2010

Office for National StatisticsThis newsletter contains information on statistical consultations together with recent and planned ONS publications that might be of interest to you.
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Hyperlocal Govcamp West Midlands

Hyperlocal Govcamp West Midlands is an unconference for local government with an added hyperlocal flavour, taking place in Walsall on 6 October 2010.

The background to the event is ongoing innovation in public sector digital communications through means such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. This event is a chance to listen, learn, exchange ideas, talk and contribute to sessions on best practice.

It’s also a chance to learn more about the rapidly emerging field of open data from the perspective of local government officers and web developers.

An unconference is an event where the agenda is developed collaboratively before the event and on the day itself. Attendees take part in deciding what the event will cover and can run sessions themselves.

The event is open for people across the public sector as well as web developers and hyperlocal bloggers.

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Equality Act 2010 comes into force 1 October – what does it mean?

The Equality Act 2010 brings together nine separate pieces of legislation into one single act simplifying the law and strengthening it in important ways to help tackle discrimination and inequality.

The coalition government announced on 3 July that the first wave of implementation of the Equality Act will take place on 1 October 2010. On this date, the vast majority of the act’s provisions will come into force. There are also some areas of the act which the government is still considering and may come into force at a later date.

Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May said:

“By making the law easier to understand, the Equality Act will help business treat staff fairly and meet the needs of a diverse customer base. The law will be easier to understand and better able to protect people from discrimination.

“Implementing the Equality Act to the planned timetable makes clear our commitment to equality. A successful economy needs the full participation of all its citizens and we are committed to implementing the Act in the best way for business.”

To help people understand the new laws, the Government Equalities Office has prepared a series of summary guides: Equality Act 2010: what do I need to know?

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West Midlands skills performance falters

The Observatory has published this year’s review of West Midlands skills performance .

Our summary skills index based on a range of measures (such as GVA per employee, investment in training, and qualification attainment amongst young people and adults) reveals the West Midlands skills performance has begun to widen again, from 1.1 points in 2007 to 2.3 points in 2009. As a result the West Midlands has dropped from 5th to 6th place in the league table of regions.

Skills performance index for West Midlands and England between 2005 and 2009

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