Metropolitan West Midlands remains the UK’s poorest sub-region in latest gross disposable household income estimates

Office for National StatisticsThe 2008 Regional Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) (pdf, 113kb) estimates are released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Indexed GDHI per head (where UK=100) for the West Midlands in 2008 was 90, stable in comparison to the revised 2007 index value of 90.

GDHI per head in the West Midlands rose from £12,800 in 2007 to £13,300 in 2008, an increase of 3.8 per cent, in line with the increase seen in England and the UK.

Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) per head is preferred to Gross Value Added (GVA) per head as a measure of economic welfare.

In the 2008 data, the West Midlands in regards to GDHI per head was ranked seventh amongst the nine English regions. London is the strongest performer at £19,000 and the North East is the least strong at £12,500.

In total, regional GDHI for the West Midlands region in 2008 was £72.2bn, an increase of £3.0bn on the revised figures for 2007.

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West Midlands unemployment now highest of all regions

Office for National Statistics logoLatest data from the Office for National Statistics reveals that unemployment has increased to 8.4 per cent in the West Midlands – higher than any other English region – as 36,000 more people became unemployed in the quarter from November 2008 to February 2009.

The unemployment rate has now increased by 2.4 percentage points on the same period last year, and 1.4 percentage points on the previous quarter. Employment has declined by 2.8 percentage points in the year February 2008 to February 2009 and is declining at a rate almost three times the national rate of 1.0 percentage points.

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What are the causes of worklessness?

paper_pileThe Observatory’s economic inclusion team recently posted on this site to ask for any information on the causes and dynamics of worklessness for a literature review. The completed literature review is now available.

Key findings from the review are that:

  • several groups of people are at high risk of worklessness – these include people in poor health, lone parents, some minority ethnic groups, social tenants, carers, and ex-offenders.
  • disability/poor health and low qualifications are 2 of the most common barriers to employment
  • many other barriers to employment were identified including a lack of work experience, low confidence, caring responsibilities, employer attitudes, poor public transport and the structure of the benefits system
  • several factors influence a person’s decision to re-enter employment but the longer someone has been out of work, the less likely they are to return.

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More likely to die or retire than work again

After two years claiming incapacity benefit, a person is more likely to die or retire than work again, according to research highlighted in a recent report by the West Midlands Regional Observatory.

The Economic Inclusion Baseline Report for the West Midlands (pdf, 1.06mb), shows the facts behind what has become a significant problem for the region.

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What is ‘worklessness’?

question-mark‘Worklessness’ is a fairly new term that is starting to be used and heard more frequently but what does it mean? Is it just a different word for unemployment?

The answer is that worklessness is not the same as unemployment but there are several different definitions of worklessness.

In the national indicator set of 198 indicators for Local Authorities, the indicator on worklessness (NI 152) looks at the proportion of the working age population who are claiming an out-of-work benefit—either Jobseekers Allowance, Incapacity Benefits, Income Support for lone parents or other income related benefits.

Other groups have defined workless people as those who are out of work but would like to work.

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Jobseekers allowance claimant statistics give cause for concern in Birmingham

Four of Birmingham’s parliamentary constituencies are listed amongst the five worst in the UK in terms of the proportion of the resident working-age population claiming Jobseekers allowance, according to figures for December 2008 released by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The constituencies are Birmingham Ladywood (9.9% up 1% year-on-year), Birmingham Hodge Hill (8.3% up 1.5%), Birmingham Sparkbrook & Small Heath (8.1% up 0.9%), and Birmingham Erdington (7.4% up 1.8%).

The only constituency listed in the worst five not in Birmingham was Liverpool Walton, with a Jobseekers claimant rate of 7.4%. Wolverhampton South East was listed as having the sixth worst claimant rate of the 660 parliamentary constituencies at 7% (up 1.7%).

The BBC recession tracker provides a map of the UK illustrating these statistics, in which Birmingham can easily be seen as a Jobseekers allowance claimant ‘hot spot’.

Download the full list of statistics for all constituencies (XLS, 86kb).

Changes to benefits system

Employment and Support Allowance - Working for a better lifeImportant changes were made to the benefits system in October 2008 which will have a major impact on claimants of incapacity benefits.

The aim is to simplify the system, and support claimants to return to work in line with the Government’s welfare to work policies and target of 80% employment rate.

Employment and Support Allowance is the new benefit that replaces Incapacity Benefit and Income Support (on incapacity grounds) for new customers from 27 October 2008.

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