Internet use is transforming almost every aspect of our public, private and work life. More than three quarters of the UK population use the internet daily, up from just 35% of people in 2006. Two thirds of people now own a smartphone, using it for nearly two hours every day to browse the internet, access social media, bank and shop online.
Last week, the Daily Express published a story with the headline “Migrants ‘milking’ benefits system: Foreigners more likely to claim handouts”, drawing upon figures from a Migration Watch report that investigates the economic characteristics of migrants in the UK in 2014. The purpose of this post is not to critique the claims made by the newspaper nor the report itself, but rather to investigate whether the source of the data, the Labour Force Survey (LFS), is capable of providing evidence that is robust enough to support these claims.
As the study points out, migrants in the UK do not uniformly match the age profile of their host country as a whole and predominantly fall into the 25-44 age bands. It follows that analysis of benefit claims by migrants should be broken down by age, yet the picture that emerges of the differences between the UK-born and non UK-born population is not entirely clear. The charts below – taken directly from the report – show that claimant rates for certain benefits are higher among the non UK-born (e.g. housing benefit) while for others they are lower (e.g. out-of-work benefits). The implication is that a nuanced narrative might be more appropriate than broad statements about migrants’ likelihood to claim.
The Ministry of Defence has released figures giving the estimated number of enemy combatants killed in Iraq from RAF air strikes. An estimated 242 enemy combatants were killed between October 2014 and May 2015, the highest number falling in January 2015, with 50 deaths. The Ministry says there are no known incidents of civilians being killed as a result of RAF air strikes in Iraq since September 2014.
Future bills (including finance bills) and secondary legislation introduced to the Commons and certified as being English only will require a double majority before being passed into law, according to plans announced by Leader of the House Chris Grayling this morning. A new system will produce two results: one for all MPs, another just for English MPs.
What impact will these proposals have on the passage of legislation? To what proportion of legislation will they apply – and how many divisions may conclude differently as a result? This blog uses the House of Commons Library’s divisions database (2001 – present) to address these questions using historic data.
Just under a year ago I published a blog taking a retrospective look at the 2014 European Parliament and local elections to consider what UKIP’s 2014 successes might mean for the Party’s General Election chances. That blog and another since highlighted the fact that while UKIP’s recent history has been characterised by relatively successful European elections followed by poor general election performances, signs were pointing to a slightly different outcome this time. Indeed, most political commentators were unsurprised by the 10-point boost to UKIP’s vote share relative to 2010, and perhaps as testament to the curiosities of a FPTP system, equally unsurprised by the lack of seats this translated to.
Despite winning only a single seat in May, UKIP hailed the General Election as a step in the right direction, citing it as evidence that their “2020 strategy” – building a platform of support to challenge in the next General Election – is on track. Besides the almost 3.9 million votes cast for UKIP, one of the main justifications for this optimism was the number of seats in which the UKIP candidate came second. While in 2010 the party registered zero second place finishes, in 2015 they achieved 120 – almost twice the number managed by the Liberal Democrats and two-thirds that of the Conservatives. But does this really point towards more seats in 2020? A closer look at this subset of seats and the way in which those second place finishes were secured could help answer this question.
The employment rate reached a record high at the start of the year, but it is worth asking who still wants more work?
An increasingly complex picture is emerging about who will be taking decisions on large energy projects in future, with the Planning (Wales) Act 2015 about to appear on the statute books and announcements in the Queen’s Speech about further energy devolution, alongside proposed changes in the rules for onshore windfarms. This blog post explores some of these complexities and highlights some of the issues that still need to be sorted out.
Sanctions don’t work?
It is difficult to be sure why a country has changed its policy. Most academics used to conclude, however, that there was precious little evidence for international sanctions changing anything. In 1985, an author argued that there were few subjects where international relations analysts agreed as much as on the proposition ‘sanctions do not work’.
The 2015 Government has moved quickly on the devolution of power to local authority areas, introducing the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill into the House of Lords on 29 May 2015. The Chancellor, George Osborne, has made clear that this Bill forms part of the Government’s stated intention to create a ‘Northern powerhouse’, rebalancing the economy of the UK. What does the Bill tell us about the direction of the Government’s policy in this area?