In the first part of this series I looked at bringing general news sources and blogs into one place; in the second I looked at social media discussions. This final part looks at how to know what government departments are saying and doing, even if no one is reporting it.
Data and documents provide some of the most useful leads for reporting: they tell you what the government is doing, and what it is being forced to reveal.
It’s important to understand that much of the information revealed by official government websites are the result of scrutiny by opposition politicians and Freedom of Information requests. This is how to find out when they do. Continue reading How to keep track of welfare issues part 3: data and documents
These are the welfare-related links we’ve been looking at between January 26th and March 22nd:
These are the welfare-related links we’ve been looking at between December 21st and January 25th:
- Management in Practice – GPs could help save £190m in sick pay – Launching in 2014, the advisory service will allow GPs to identify employees who need support as well as issuing 'fit notes'. Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform said: "Long-term sickness absence is a burden to business, to the taxpayer and to the thousands of people who get trapped on benefits when they could actually work.
- The cost of government: what does the new transactions data really tell us? | News | guardian.co.uk – And the worst offender? The massive Department for Work and Pensions, which is Britain's biggest spending government department and administers benefits. So, for instance we have no idea how much it costs to process each of the 40m Jobseeker's allowance signing ons or to administer the benefit's 3.4m claims. The Department is responsible for 48,704,000 transactions in the high volume list alone – and we don't know the cost of any of them.
- Reasons to be fearful: Oakley & Policy Exchange, foxes in the benefits coop | skwalker1964 – To keep this post to a readable length, I won’t go into detail on some of the other proposals that Mr Oakley would like to see implemented, or wild opinions that he holds, but will just list some of them:
All assistance for unemployed people to find work provided by private/charitable providers
Time-limiting unemployment benefits
Cutting regional pay to fund infrastructure spending – thereby penalising those who are already disadvantaged in order to fund growth-measures, rather than taxing the wealthiest
Selling public housing in expensive areas to private owners, forcing social tenants out of ‘desirable’ areas
Claiming benefits leads to criminality
Re-distributing income to low-paid people is a bad idea, because it ‘does nothing to encourage progression and self-sufficiency‘.
- Request Initiative » Eleven work and pensions civil servants sacked for using Twitter or Facebook – The 11 sacked officials are among 116 DWP employees to have faced disciplinary action for blogging and social networking since January 2009, according to figures revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.
- What is George Osborne doing to benefits? | Society | guardian.co.uk – Let's imagine someone receives £100 a month, all of which is spent on goods and services (domestic heating, food, bills, etc). The current inflation rate is 2.7%, which means in a year's time buying the exact same things would cost £102.70. Under the previous system, this is what benefits would've risen to. But with the changes, they would now only rise to £101 – leaving the recipient £1.70 worse off. Given the changes will last for at least three years, this represents a cut in income of between 3% to 6%, depending what happens with inflation. In reality, the impact could be even worse, as research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests low-income households experience a higher inflation rate than richer ones.