Eight weeks on from the 2014 European and local elections, the election results may be out of the headlines but parties are left with much to ponder as to what it means for their chances at the general election next May. UKIP’s extraordinary performance saw them secure 24 of the 73 European Parliament seats (up from 13 in 2009), gain an additional 1.85 million European votes relative to 2009, and win a record number of seats on local councils. We consider what UKIP’s success might mean for the general election.
The first estimate of GDP growth for the second quarter of 2014 will be released tomorrow morning and will generate plenty of news coverage, analysis and comment. To provide a little context, we explain what GDP is and how it is measured.
Have you ever noticed the same people on your train to work, getting off at your stop day in, day out, and wondered what do they do, how did they get on at school, or how long have they been on this train for (because they look like they have lost the will to live)? Well, now, thanks to the innovative Workplace Zones, developed from the 2011 Census, we can find statistical answers to these questions – and more. Workplace Zones have allowed for more data than ever to be released on the characteristics of workplace populations – characteristics such as the industries they work in, the qualifications they hold, and their level of health – to name but a few.
There is a common perception that when a government leaves office, unemployment is higher than when they entered. We look at historic data to see how accurate this claim is.
In 2010-12, half of households (50%) in Great Britain had some kind of financial debt – for example formal borrowing (but not mortgages), overdrafts and arrears on household bills. About half of these households – a quarter (25%) overall – had debts worth more than their financial assets. Financial assets can include money held in the home or in bank accounts, savings accounts, stocks and shares, etc.
This post has been amended on 4 July. It was taken down on 3 July on the initiative of the Library. The post’s analysis of the data has not been changed. However, the description of the Prime Minister and Health Secretary’s use of these statistics did not meet our expected standards of impartiality. Also, we speculated on the patient’s view of the different measures of waiting time without firm evidence.
We strive to be a trusted and authoritative source of unbiased information that informs democratic discourse and encourages debate. On this occasion we got it wrong and we will learn lessons.
There has been recent debate about the situation in NHS accident and emergency units, with changes in the waiting time for treatment being used as an indicator of performance. This blog post explores what data is available and what it shows.
On 2 July at PMQs the Prime Minister stated:
When [Labour was in Government], the average waiting time [in A&E] was 77 minutes; under this Government, it is 30 minutes.
GDP growth in 2009, the final year of the recession, was not as bad as previously measured, new estimates released today show. A new way of measuring GDP is being introduced this year in the UK and this release provides revised growth figures for 1998-2009.
Over the period 1998-2009, average annual GDP growth is unrevised at 2.2%. However, there are some large differences in individual years. For instance, GDP growth in 2007 is revised down from 3.4% to 2.4%, while it is revised up from -5.2% to -4.1% in 2009. In half of the 12 years that were considered for revision, half were revised up or down by at least 0.5 percentage points.
This blog post was updated on the 15 July due to new legislation being passed.
There have been a number of media reports, from 2011 onwards, regarding individuals who have attempted to film council meetings on their cameras or mobile phones and have been prevented from doing so by the council (for example, see here*).
Following the publication of a number of pieces of guidance, the Government addressed this issue in the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014. This has led to some erroneous media reports that councils must now allow filming by members of the public. This is not correct. The 2014 Act does not oblige councils to allow filming: it allows the Secretary of State to make regulations to oblige councils to allow filming. This has not yet been done, and until it is, filming of a council meeting is at the discretion of the council itself.
The use of royal pardons has attracted attention over recent months, especially in Northern Ireland where questions have been raised over apparently secret letters of assurance given to so-called “on the runs”. While Ministers have faced calls for greater transparency over the royal prerogative of mercy, a High Court judgement in Belfast last week shed light on 16 occasions when it was used by the previous Government.
A common complaint from the UK press is that the EU accounts have not been “signed off” (for example, see articles from the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and the BBC). In fact, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) has signed off the accounts for each year up to 2012 – although it has never given a wholly positive assessment of how EU funds are spent.