JSA claimants: National Study of Work-search and Wellbeing

Mental health in context: the national study of work-search and wellbeing: DWP

  • 22.6% of recent JSA claimants had a common mental disorder (CMD) like anxiety or depression
  • People who started a JSA claim in the first quarter of 2011 had worse mental health than people of working age in the population as a whole
  • Two-thirds of JSA claimants believed that working leads to better health
  • Recent experience of adverse life events, such as a major financial crisis or a relationship breakdown, was relatively common: one in ten had been homeless or living in temporary accommodation in the previous 12 months
  • Discussion of health and wellbeing in work-focused interviews with Jobcentre Plus Personal Advisers was not widespread, but was found to be helpful when it happened
  • Satisfaction with support from Jobcentre Plus was lower among people with CMD than among those without, although a symptom of CMD is to tend towards more negative views
  • The experience of claiming JSA was associated with feelings of shame and the stigma of being on benefits. Personalised support and being treated respectfully were important to people

Could opening up more public services to competition save £22.6 billion?

The CBI thinks so.

The CBI says the government could achieve major savings when public services open up to a range of diverse providers. Savings “come primarily through efficiencies and productivity improvements – doing what is already done to the same or higher standard but at lower cost. They can be achieved while still maintaining the quality of the service offered and, in many cases, improving it”

I’m not surprised that the CBI should say this but I’m not sure it is as simple as they make it out to be. And the Local Government Association reckons “The estimated savings are pie in the sky” – I’m not really surprised by this reaction either

Small businesses in employment and enterprise

  • Each year small and medium sized businesses take on around 1.3 million unemployed and disadvantaged people. In contrast, large firms with more than 250 employees hire less than 130,000 on average
  • People from groups such as long term sick, disabled and students  are more likely to be employed by a small business
  • 95 per cent of this group that find work in the private sector will work for or start up a small or medium sized business. Almost nine in 10 (88%) unemployed people that are actively looking for work will find a job in, or start up, a small business.

Boost to output prospects

Moderate boost to output prospects as order books improve: CBI Industrial Trends Survey

  • Of the 425 manufacturers responding to the latest monthly Industrial Trends Survey, 28% expect to increase their volume of output over the course of the next three months, while 21% expect it to fall. The resulting balance of +7% is in line with the long-run average (+6%) and follows the expectation last month of a flat period for output (0%).
  • Total order books saw an improvement from August (balance of -21%), with 19% of firms reporting them as above normal and 28% stating that order levels were below normal this month. The rounded balance of -8% is also well above the long-run average (-17%) and back in line with July’s results (-6%). Likewise, export orders also recovered with a balance of -10%, comfortably above the long-run average of -21%.
  • Stock levels rose to their highest level since October 2011 (+21%), with a balance of +18% stating that stocks are at least adequate to meet demand, a little above the long-run average (+14%).

Retail Sales

Retail Sales, Aug 2012: ONS

  • In August 2012 retail sales were estimated to have increased compared with August last year, continuing the underlying year-on-year upwards movements we have seen in the retail sector since August 2011. However, this is not a long term pattern for the volume of sales which overall, between 2007 and 2012 have been relatively flat.
  • Compared with August 2011, in August 2012 the amount of goods bought in the retail sector (all retailing seasonally adjusted sales volumes) was estimated to have increased by 2.7 per cent. Over the same period, the amount spent in the retail sector (all retail seasonally adjusted sales values) was estimated to have increased by 3.0 per cent.
  • The amount of goods bought in retail stores (August 2012 compared with July 2012) fell by 0.2 per cent following a 0.3 per cent rise in July 2012. Over the same period, the amount spent was estimated to have increased by 0.2 per cent following a 0.7 per cent increase in July 2012.
  • Annual estimated store price inflation remained at 0.2 per cent. As included in the Consumer Prices Index the main source of downward pressure came from a fall in prices at stores selling household goods and clothing.
  • The average weekly spend for all retailing in August 2012 was £6.5 billion; compared with £6.6 billion in July 2012 and £6.3 billion in August 2011.
  • The proportion of Internet sales decreased by 0.9 per cent between July and August 2012. Compared with a year ago, the proportion of Internet sales in August 2012 increased by 0.3 per cent. In August 2012 the estimated average weekly spend online was £466.1 million.

The British Retail Consortium thought that the official retail figures were ‘surprisingly strong‘ and said “As the vital run-up to Christmas begins, retailers are still looking for a convincing revival in consumers’ confidence and willingness to spend”.



Price Indices, August 2012: ONS

  • The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) annual inflation stands at 2.5 per cent in August 2012, down from 2.6 per cent in July
  • The Retail Prices Index (RPI) annual inflation stands at 2.9 per cent in August 2012, down from 3.2 per cent in July

Voice of Small Business Index

Voice of Small Business Index: FSB

  • Small firms’ confidence levels tumbled 5.8 points to -4.5 in the third quarter – the fourth lowest score since the start of 2010
  • 21.6 per cent of respondents had applied for finance – down one percentage point on Q2. However, the number of refusals increased from 40.6 in Q2 to 42.4 in Q3. And almost two thirds of members think the availability of credit is poor
  • More than 60 per cent of firms also think that finance is unaffordable
  • Across the UK, 10 in 12 regions saw a decline in confidence – only London and the east Midlands saw an increase
  • Fifteen of the 18 sectors surveyed were more confident than in Q2. Business services sector and small manufacturers continue to perform well, but for those that rely on discretionary spending, confidence fell resulting in the overall negative reading
  • For a 10th consecutive quarter firms reported a fall in revenues