- Benefit sanctions hitting homeless people hardest. Homeless Link has commissioned a report called A High Cost to Pay (pdf) that highlights the difficulties of the most vulnerable people in attending benefit dependant interviews. There is a call for Jobcentre Plus advisors to better understand the predicament of homeless people. Homeless Link found that the sanctions are punishing vulnerable people for making mistakes.
- ‘Guaranteed safeguards’ are failing payday loan customers. Citizens Advice Bureau responds to the BBC article Payday lenders bite back: ‘Don’t call us loan sharks’ saying that the safeguards are not maintained. Not only that but the policy of collecting debts at source encourages unwise lending.
- Bedroom tax crisis: Ed Miliband commits to controversial benefit cut – if Labour wins the next election. Independent. Labour committed to ditching the benefit alteration.
- More than 50,000 people are now facing eviction after bedroom tax. Independent. False Economy provided the data to the Independent from their FOI requests. False Economy is an organisation believing that austerity measures are a false economy so will not solve the economic crisis.
- Free school meals: we are all socialists now. Guardian, Patrick Butler’s cutsblog. The decision to give 1.4m children free meals is a universal socialist policy rather than the haunt of the Lib Dems, who proposed it.
- You can starve on benefits in this country. A Girl called Jack. Blogger Jack Monroe, once a single mum on benefits, starts her column in the Guardian.
- I am prouder of my years as a single mother than of any other part of my life J K Rowling said. J K Rowling is the President of Gingerbread, the support organisation for single mothers.
In our previous post, Oliver Conner analysed the number of jobseekers claiming JSA against the amount of Travel for Interview Scheme (TIS) money awarded in 2010/2011.
The JSA claimants’ figures are from 2010 (source: ONS) and the TIS data (source: DWP in a response to an FOI request) covers April 2010 to around August 2011. Of course we are comparing two different types of numbers: amounts of money and total numbers of jobseekers. But if you take the relative national value of those figures, it gives us a good idea of the regional differences.
I have created a chart using Oliver’s figures to facilitate visualisation. Continue reading
Joining in our investigation on the demise of the Travel for Interview Scheme (TIS) this week, Oliver Conner researched the number of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants around the country and compared those figures against the amount of TIS being paid out by region.
His analysis reveals some interesting stats: the South East has been awarded the most amount of TIS by far, whereas the highest numbers of JSA claimants are concentrated in London.
Can you map this data, perhaps comparing it to poverty stats in the country? What is the co-relation between wealth, number of JSA claimants and the amount of money JobCentres spent on Travel for Interview for jobseekers? Anyone up for the challenge? Get in touch.
|Region||JSA Claimants(Source: ONS Nov 2010)||% of total||TIS Paid (2010/2011)||% of total||Discrepancy|
|Yorks & Humb||134,290||10.38%||£212,490.00||14.14%||-3.76%|
To kick of the investigation about funds allocated to the Travel for Interview (TIS) scheme, I searched the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) website for any publicly available information.
Some government departments, such as the Department of Health, offer helpful guidance on how to contact them for enquiries, including a customer service telephone number, but searching for information on the Department of Work and Pensions site can be more like a needle-in-a-haystack case.
My search finally led me to the What We Spend page, which published data, in CSV format, on DWP’s payments over £25,000. The data is broken down by month, starting from April 2010, the first month of the 2010/2011 tax year. A PDF of explanatory notes on the monthly payment spreadsheets is also available.
I downloaded some of the spreadsheets to check their content, filtered the data to show only “TIS” (travel for interview) under Expense Type and was delighted to discover that, this way, I could easily obtain the total monthly sums JobCentres spent on TIS. But I also realised that data alone would not help me draw many useful conclusions as to which parts of the country had the highest number of jobseekers dependent on the scheme to travel to interviews.
Did a breakdown by region exist of TIS funds allocated to JobCentres round the country? In order to create those spreadsheets on their website, the DWP must have originally had more location-specific figures from JobCentres, which had then been collated into the monthly reports.
I used the email address published at the bottom of the list of spreadsheets to ask them the question. The information turned out to be available only under a Freedom of Information request, so I sent it out as one.
Below is the response to my FOI request from the DWP’s communications team:
I will now be working on analysing the regional breakdown of TIS funds provided by the DWP, while I research what data maps are available on poverty/deprivation or unemployment rates in the UK. My idea is that we can link those with the TIS figures we now have. Results will be published in a future post, so watch this space.
You are welcome to join the investigation at any stage and contribute in any way you like. Perhaps you are interested in data and knows how to use data visualisation tools? Maybe you’re good with spreadsheets and would like to help clean data. Or you are a skilled web detective and would like to suggest links that could speed up our research?
Please Help Me Investigate. Get in touch.
UPDATE ON OCT. 12, 2011: I have moved the information on the new Flexible Support Fund (FSF) to a separate post, so that we can investigate it in more detail.