Wandsworth JSA claims: The slope is gentle, but in the right direction

I’m not sure how much value these posts add, but being anally retentive continue to produce them (and update the data).

September saw another slight fall in the total number of Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claims, 53 (0.9%) fewer people were signing on than in August, bringing the total down to 6,070. The drop against this time last year was 603 people (9.0%)

Still paying the price of recession: Claims are still significantly higher than their pre-recession low

The figures are not so bright when compared against the pre-recession low, when claims where under 4,000. At the moment claims are still 2,329 (50.0%) higher than pre-recession. Although it should be borne in mind that Wandsworth is still doing remarkably well compared to elsewhere, our claim rate is 2.8%, which compares favourably to rates of 4% and 3.5% for London and Great Britain respectively.

I missed this when it was first published, but a nice video outlining the vision for Nine Elms.

I’m not sure the real benefit of a new underground station is that the first thing travellers see is The Duchess, but it shows that the benefits of regeneration come in different shapes and sizes for different people.

As I do every month a quick look at the Jobseekers Allowance claims in Wandsworth. Again, it’s seen a small drop. Nothing earth shattering, just 59 (1%) fewer than last month and 593 (8.8%) fewer over the year.

The trend seems healthy, if slow, although with speculation about double dip recessions and, of course, the impact of measures to tackle the deficit this might change.

What is telling is the graph over the course of the recession.

While the trend may be downwards now, there’s still a long way to go before it returns to anything like it was before the recession.

The data I’ve used to create the graphs (and come up with the figures) is on my data page.

Sort of following on from yesterday. The SW11 Literary Festival launches later today and this year’s competition is to come up with a ‘slogan for Battersea’.

It follows a similar pattern to last year’s Battersea Poems. Text Battslog and the slogan to 07786 202844 (charged at standard rate) or tweet them with a #battslog hashtag.

The best entries will feature in shop windows in Battersea and the overall winner get Waterstone’s voucher and see their slogan used for the next year.

Fortunately my Philistinism has been recognised by the council (perhaps in part because of my involvement with Battersea Poems last year) so I no longer have anything to do with this sort of thing. A good job, because my effort would probably have only been something like “it’s not Clapham, innit.”

Along with the rise in employment announced this morning Jobseekers Allowance claims have dropped in Wandsworth.

Like last month we’re lower than we were this time last year, by 315 claims (4.8%) and 93 fewer claims than last month (a 1.5% drop). Of course, it’s not what it was, and I vary between thinking a double dip recession has been avoided, to thinking that one is inevitable. But every drop in the numbers is a step in the right direction.

The graph covering time since the recession began isn’t, perhaps, quite as rosy looking since it shows we still have a long way to go.

The council are running two meetings, tonight and tomorrow, for residents interested in finding out more about the regeneration of Nine Elms.

I’ve written before about how exciting the scheme is for Battersea and Wandsworth. It is the biggest regeneration area in central London and is a massive opportunity for the borough creating 16,000 home and around 25,000 jobs.

The two meetings both run from 19:30 until 21:00, tonight’s will take place at the Rose Community Clubroom in Ascalon Street and tomorrow’s at All Saints Church in Prince of Wales Drive.

My usual posting of the Jobseekers Allowance claim figures for Wandsworth.

The line is starting to look a bit healthier. While the numbers claiming JSA are much higher than they were before the recession it is starting to look like there is a downward trend. In June there was a drop of 244 claims from May (3.7% down) bringing the total to 6,275. Interestingly, for the first time since the recession started the year-on-year comparison shows a reduction. There are 73 (1.1%) fewer people claiming JSA than there were in June 2009.
The graph for the duration of the recession doesn’t look quite as good. It’s clear that there’s still a long way to go, and obviously there has to be some pessimism as the effects of dealing with the deficit make themselves known.

Another of the big projects for Nine Elms took a step forward yesterday with the announcement of the six shortlisted developers for the redevelopment of New Covent Garden Market.

New Covent Market is the biggest single development site in Nine Elms and having the six major developers from which to choose is a real boost given how hard the recession hit the construction sector.

Amidst all the gloom and talk of austerity it’s exciting to see things starting to move there. I noticed one of the sites referring to the area as the ‘Embassy Quarter’. Perhaps a bit premature, but a sign that after the recession the optimism is there.

I spent a good chunk of yesterday at the National Worklessness Advisory Panel (which reminded that I’d not done the usual post about JSA figures in Wandsworth). While I’m not going to go into most of the discussions there were some interesting topics raised. One which started me thinking was a discussion about the unintended consequences of local government finance – essentially that you are often effectively rewarded to fail. If you succeed as a council, for example, in reducing unemployment you may see yourself getting less grant from the government because you are less deprived, while other public services may see benefits.

Which set me thinking…

The graph is a comparison of the rate of working-age benefit claims against the recorded rate of violence against the person. It isn’t perfect, the data comes from two difference sources: benefit claims from Nomis are an average from the 2009 quarterly figures, crime from the Home Office’s RDS site and is for 2008-2009 and, because of local government reorganisation some areas couldn’t be compared.

However, I think it gives a clear picture of the relationship. And there’s probably no surprise that, generally the higher the rate of claims (and by extension unemployment) the higher the rate of crime. I will confess I was a little surprised that there wasn’t a tipping point at which recorded violent crime started shooting up. Instead it seems the range of broadens; it would be interesting to know why, for example, Knowsley has a relatively high rate of working age benefits (17.46%) but relatively low violent crime (11 crimes per 1,000 people) and whether that’s a consequence of effective policing and community safety work or something else.

As additionally evidence I would point to the increases in various crime types in Wandsworth, and elsewhere, during the recession.

While very few authorities fall bang on the trend line it rises at approximately 1.2 crimes per 1,000 for every 1% rise in claim rate. To give an example of what this means Wandsworth has a population of 282,000 (according to the Home Office, at least) so a 1% reduction in claim rate could be expected to result in 338 fewer violent crimes in a year if we followed the average trend. Perhaps not that many, but when you consider the costs of those crimes in police time, hopefully court time (processing the offender) and potentially hospital treatment (for the victim) it’s easy to see the that the impact on taxpayers’ money very quickly adds up.

Of course, Wandsworth is mature enough to recognise that the benefits of lower unemployment outweigh the potential loses in grants, but it is an interesting example of the inter-relationship of public services and something that every public service needs to consider carefully while we face the consequences of a huge deficit.

(Given my occasional bleatings about open data, if you are interested feel free to download the data I used to produce the chart and let me know if I’ve got it totally wrong. While I’m confident of the basic premise I caveat it all with the fact that I am not a statistician, and this is a result of procrastination and far too much coffee today.)

I have been tracking, on here, the figures for Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claims in Wandsworth for well over a year. May showed another small drop; 6,519 people claimed JSA, 124 (1.9%) fewer than the previous month, although still 89 (1.4%) more than the same time last year.

It does seem that the total claims have hit something of a plateau, something that becomes even more apparent if you look at the numbers of claims for the duration of the recession.

And it’s very difficult to guess what will happen next. There has long been speculation about a jobless recovery (in which businesses do not replace jobs that were lost during the recession) or a double dip recovery – neither of which bode well for the figures.

However, these threats have to be balanced by government plans to tackle unemployment which (and politically I would say this) I hope are likely to be more effective than the previous governments. To me, the recent announcement that to look at ways of helping people move to areas with more work (it’s the reason I left my home town to move to London) rather than forcing them to stay in an area of unemployment because they live in social housing. Other announcements – which I’ve yet to see condemned by the opposition – of creating a single welfare to work programme and funding providers on outcomes (like getting people into work) rather than the outputs (how many people they see) will hopefully start the transition from JSA and incapacity benefit being a transitional support while people get back in to the workplace rather than the permanent benefit they have become for all too many people.