European Child Poverty

European Child Poverty: Eurostat

  • In the EU27, children are at greater risk of poverty or social exclusion than the rest of the population.
  • In 2011, 27% of children aged less than 18 were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU27, compared with 24% of adults (aged 18-64) and 21% of the elderly (aged 65 and over).
  • In 2011, the highest shares of those aged less than 18 who were at risk of poverty or social exclusion were registered in Bulgaria (52%), Romania (49%), Latvia (44%), Hungary (40%) and Ireland (38% in 2010), and the lowest in Sweden, Denmark and Finland (all 16%), followed by Slovenia (17%),  the Netherlands (18%) and Austria (19%)
  • Almost half of all children whose parents had a low education level (at the most lower secondary education) were at risk of poverty in the EU27 in 2011, compared with 22% of children residing with parents who had a medium education level (at the most upper secondary education) and 7% of  children with parents with a higher education level (tertiary education)

Winter forecast: European Commission

Winter forecast 2012-14: EC

  • Leading indicators suggest that GDP in the EU is now bottoming out.
  • Economic activity expected to gradually accelerate.
  • The pick-up in growth will initially be driven by increasing external demand. Domestic investment and consumption are projected to recover later in the year, and by 2014 domestic demand is expected to take over as the main driver of strengthening GDP growth.
  • The weakness of economic activity towards the end of 2012 implies a low starting point for the current year. Combined with a more gradual return of growth than earlier expected, this leads to a projection of low annual GDP growth in 2013 of 0.1% in the EU and a contraction of -0.3% in the euro area.
  • The current weakness in economic activity is expected to lead to an increase in unemployment this year to 11.1% in the EU and 12.2% in the euro area.
  • As the impact of higher energy prices on inflation is expected to wane, consumer-price inflation in the EU is forecast to decrease gradually in the course of 2013 and to stabilise at around 1.7%% in the EU and 1.5% in the euro area next year.

Work Programme falls short – by quite a way

House of Commons, Committee of Public Accounts Report

  • The Work Programme’s performance for its first 14 months of operation—from June 2011 to July 2012—fell well short of the Department’s expectations.
  • Overall, only 3.6% of claimants on the Programme moved off benefit and into sustained employment, less than a third of the 11.9% the Department expected to achieve, and well below the Department’s own estimate of what would have happened if there had been no Work Programme running at all. The Department had said that 9.2% of the largest group of participants would have moved off benefits and into work with no intervention at all.
  • Not one of the 18 providers has met their contractual targets.
  • The difference between actual and expected performance is greatest for those claimants considered the hardest to help, including in particular claimants with disabilities. The Department’s own evaluation suggests that these claimants have been receiving a poor service from providers. Creaming and parking are clear policy concerns which we share with the Department. Despite assurances that it would do so, the Department has not provided the further analysis which would demonstrate whether or not creaming and parking was taking place.


Labour Market Statistics – unemployment

Labour Market Statistics, Feb 2013: ONS

  • The unemployment rate was 7.8% of the economically active population, down 0.1 percentagepoints on July to September 2012 and down 0.6 on a year earlier. There were 2.50 million unemployed people, down 14,000 on July to September 2012 and down 156,000 on a yearearlier.
  • The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 71.5%, up 0.3 percentage points on Julyto September 2012 and up 1.1 on a year earlier. There were 29.73 million people in employmentaged 16 and over, up 154,000 on July to September 2012 and up 584,000 on a year earlier.•
  • The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 22.3% (the lowest since 1991), down 0.2percentage points on July to September 2012 and down 0.8 on a year earlier. There were 8.98million economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64, down 94,000 on July to September2012 and down 294,000 on a year earlier.

Footfall down

Footfall & Vacancies Monitor: BRC

  • Footfall in January was 4.6% lower than a year ago, a poorer performance than the 1.2% fall in December. This is the weakest footfall figure since April 2012 when shopper numbers declined 6.9%.
  • Footfall weakened in all three locations compared with a year earlier. Out-of-town locations reported the greatest fall (-7.2%) followed by shopping centres (-5.2%) and high street (-3.3%) locations.
  • The national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 10.9% in January 2013, down from 11.3% in October 2012.

Going for Growth report from OECD

Going for Growth 2013: OECD

  • In Europe, where unemployment is still above pre-crisis levels, many countries (including Denmark, France, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden) still need to lower barriers to job creation, hiring and mobility, while improving incentives to take up work.
  • In Japan and Korea, raising the labour force participation of women is key, and will require better benefits systems and improved childcare policies.
  • In lower-income OECD countries (like Chile, Mexico and Turkey) and the BRICS, reducing informality is a common challenge, so governments must improve incentives to create and take jobs in the formal sector.
  • In the United States, unemployment has receded somewhat from its post-recession peak but the number of long-term unemployed and discouraged job seekers remain high, calling for programmes that provide training and employment services to be beefed up and streamlined.

Retail Sales

Hard times for small retailers

Retail Sales, January 2013: ONS

  • In January 2013, year-on-year seasonally adjusted estimates of the quantity bought in the retail sector fell by 0.6%, putting a halt to the year-on-year growth seen in the retail sector since August 2011.
  • Year-on-year estimates (non-seasonally adjusted) showed an overall fall in the quantity bought in small stores, in particular those with 0-9 employees, while large stores saw an increase. This was particularly marked in the food sector with feedback from small retailers suggesting that the heavy snow fall in the latter half of January affected sales. In contrast, feedback from large store retailers suggested that some of the increase in the quantity bought came from a rise in online shopping.
  • The quantity bought in the food sector was estimated to have fallen 2.6% year-on-year (seasonally adjusted), to the lowest level since April 2004, providing the most downward pressure to the fall in the total quantity bought in the retail sector.
  • In the food sector, the proportion of sales made online rose by 27.1% (non-seasonally adjusted) compared with January 2012, which equates to 3.7% of all food sector sales, the highest on record.
  • This January, the overall proportion of non-seasonally adjusted online sales remained above the 10% mark, normally seen during the lead up to Christmas, which was 8.7% higher compared with January 2012.
  • Looking at the monthly picture, (January 2013 compared with December 2012) both the seasonally adjusted quantity bought and the amount spent in the retail sector were estimated to have fallen by 0.6% and 0.4% respectively.
  • The amount spent in the retail sector was unchanged in January 2013 compared with January 2012. Sales at petrol stations provided the main source of downward pressure to the amount spent in the retail sector. When sales at these stores are excluded the amount spent increased by 1.2%.