Voluntary/Mandatory work programme participants classed as "employed"

G Millward made this Freedom of Information request to Office for National Statistics

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Office for National Statistics,

I recently made a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) concerning the statistics relating to those individuals who are participating in workfare style programmes either voluntarily or by means of mandation.

The DWP, FoI unit, (eventually) suggested that I send my request to you.

For your convenience, I have attached a link showing the history of that request;

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/u...

I would now like to make a FoI request to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as follows;

1) Why do the ONS include individuals participating in the work programme (in either a mandatory or voluntary capacity) as being "employed" for the purposes of government statistics?

2) The DWP website, giving advice to work programme providers,states that participants to the work programme MUST be mandated in order to escape National Minimum Wage (NMW) legislation.
How many participants in the work programme (of any description) have been mandated?

3) Do the ONS include mandatory and voluntary workfare participants (who would be in receipt of JSA/ESA) AT THE SAME TIME as they include those participants in the JSA/ESA statistics? I ask this, because to in effect, include the participant twice would distort the statistics and at best appears careless and at worst disingenuous

4) There can be no doubt, that there is an economic benefit to the "employer" in two main ways;

a) JSA claimants carrying out work for that employer for no remuneration (the claimant still receiving their JSA)

b) the employer has to give no consideration to deducting/recording/remitting PAYE Income Tax and Class 1 (primary & secondary) National Insurance. How does this potential loss of tax/NI to the public purse square with the taxpayer standing good the cost of JSA payments still being paid as no wages are being received by the claimant?

I look forward to receiving your response within the statutory time limits.

Yours faithfully,

G Millward

ONS FoI Team, Office for National Statistics

Thank you for your recent FOI request to the Office for National
Statistics. I can confirm that we have received your request and it is
currently being dealt with. We will aim to respond as soon as possible, and
in any event not later than 20 working days from today (or when we received
your request if that was earlier).

Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us
at [email address]

Yours Faithfully

Jason Riches

FOI Officer, ONS.

For the latest data on the economy and society, consult National Statistics at http://www.ons.gov.uk

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Office for National Statistics
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FOI Team, Office for National Statistics

Our Reference: FOI 2071

Dear G Millward

Thank you for your email requesting data pertaining to work programmes

I am writing to confirm that the Office for National Statistics has now
completed its search for the information which you requested and the
response follows:

1) Why do the ONS include individuals participating in the work programme
(in either a mandatory or voluntary capacity) as being "employed" for the
purposes of government statistics?

Statistics relating to government supported training and employment
programmes as published by the Office for National Statistics are sourced
from the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

The LFS identifies people participating in government supported training
and employment programmes, such as the Work Programme, via a series of
questions relating to their activities in the week prior to interview.
Those who report that they were engaged in any form of work, work
experience or work related training are classified as in employment.
Participants are not automatically regarded as in employment but can be
classified as employed, unemployed or economically inactive.

For those participants classified as in employment, most are recorded
simply as in employment on a programme although some are classified as an
employee or as self-employed. This depends on both the type of activity in
the reference week and the type of programme. Many who are still
undertaking job search activities or are in some form of educational
training will be counted as unemployed or inactive.

The table in the following link shows the economic activity of people
classified on some type of government scheme:

[1]http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/about-ons/busi...

These LFS based estimates are not consistent with the official statistics
derived from administrative data on attachments to specific training and
employment programmes, as published by the Department for Work and
Pensions (DWP). The LFS estimates relate to the number of people on
programmes at a particular point in time whereas the attachments represent
the number of people joining programmes over a certain period.
Consequently, there are significant differences in scope, methodology and
the time periods covered and, therefore, comparisons should not be drawn.

2) The DWP website, giving advice to work programme providers, states that
participants to the work programme MUST  be mandated in order to escape
National Minimum Wage (NMW) legislation.
How many participants in the work programme (of any description) have been
mandated?

The LFS does not collect information relating to mandates from people who
report to the survey that they are participating in government supported
training and employment programmes. We cannot identify these independently
from non-mandated participants. This information may be available from the
DWP admin system.

3) Do the ONS include mandatory and voluntary workfare participants (who
would be in receipt of JSA/ESA) AT THE SAME TIME as they include those
participants in the JSA/ESA statistics?  I ask this, because to in effect,
include the participant twice would distort the statistics and at best
appears careless and at worst disingenuous

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) based measure of government schemes and the
JSA claimant count and ESA are separate. An individual's response to
questions on the LFS is based upon their activity as reported to the
survey and is not dependent on their receipt of benefits. The JSA claimant
count is purely a count of people receiving this benefit. There are many
people who are not eligible for JSA that are classed as unemployed
additionally there are people who, under certain conditions, are classed
as in employment but are still in receipt of JSA.
 
In regards to people on government schemes, in particular the Work
Programme - these individuals will nearly all be in receipt of JSA so will
be included on the count although their economic status recorded by the
LFS would be dependant on their type of placement (whether with an
employer, training, or volunteering work among others) and their activity
in the survey reference week.

4) There can be no doubt, that there is an economic benefit to the
"employer" in two main  ways;

a) JSA claimants carrying out work for that employer for no remuneration
(the claimant still receiving their JSA)

b) the employer has to give no consideration to
deducting/recording/remitting PAYE Income Tax and Class 1 (primary &
secondary) National Insurance.  How does this potential loss of tax/NI to
the public purse square with the taxpayer standing good the cost of JSA
payments still being paid as no wages are being received by the claimant?

ONS cannot comment on this.

You have the right to have this response to your freedom of information
request reviewed internally by an internal review process and, if you
remain unhappy with the decision, by the Information Commissioner. If you
would like to have the decision reviewed please write to The FoI Team,
Room 1400, Office for National Statistics, Segensworth Road, Titchfield
PO155RR, and mark your correspondence "Internal Review".

If you have any queries about this email, please contact the Freedom of
Information Team ('[ONS request email]')

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Freedom of Information Team
Office for National Statistics

For the latest data on the economy and society, consult National
Statistics at [2]http://www.ons.gov.uk

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/about-ons/busi...
2. http://www.ons.gov.uk/

G Millward left an annotation ()

I read the ONS response and thought "blah, blah, blah" in that it says a lot but says nothing.
So... I am going to e mail the Labour Force Survey (LFS) first which as it collects data which is in the public domain,should be subject to the FoI provisions The DWP and ONS seem to bandy the Labour Force name about which they seem to think absolves them of any responsibility. Once I get a response from LFS, I will post it here.

G Millward left an annotation ()

So here is the response from the Labour Force Survey, which surprise, surprise advises me to direct my query back to the DWP...So I will!

Thank you for the information, it’s helpful to understand the background to your request. The UK Data Archive holds data from a variety of surveys and we manage the access to that data. Unfortunately, I don’t think we are the right people to help with your query as we have no control over the content of the data as we do not design or carry out the research. Any issues with the content of the data or the way the research has been carried out would need to be directed to the ONS, though I see from the link you sent that you have corresponded with the ONS but were not happy with their response. I would suggest following the issue up with them to try to get a more detailed response.
I’m really sorry we aren’t able to help you with this case, your research looks very interesting and raises a pertinent question so I hope you’re able to go forward with it. If you would like to register with us so as to explore the data I would be happy to provide you with credentials so you can log in. I know we’re having some trouble with our website today but hopefully this will be fixed soon and you’ll be able to fill in the form found at http://ukdataservice.ac.uk/get-data/how-... (just click the link in the second paragraph, where it says “However, you will first have to apply for a UK Data Archive username and password.”) In the notes please mention this query reference (QTHELP-8661) so we can see the background to your request.

Regards,

Laura Beauchamp
Data Access Officer

__________________________
T +44(0) 1206 872143
E lebeau@essex.ac.uk
W ukdataservice.ac.uk/help/get-in-touch
__________________________
UK Data Service
UK Data Archive
University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park
Colchester
Essex, CO4 3SQ, UK
__________________________
Legal Disclaimer: Any views expressed by the sender of this message
are not necessarily those of the UK Data Service or the UK Data Archive.
This email and any files with it are confidential and intended solely for
the use of the individual(s) or entity to whom they are addressed.

From: ME
Sent: 28 August 2014 17:31
To: UK Data Service Helpdesk
Subject: Re: (QTHELP-8661) General/Other information

Hi Laura,

Thank you for your response.

The reason I asked about FOI is because of the criteria the labour force survey use when supplying data to government.

My initial FOI was to the DWP and then the ONS.

I have concerns about the way in which data is being used and both of these departments state that the data has come from LFS.

It may help if I enclose the FOI request I sent to the ONS;

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/v...

Basically, I cannot understand how a JSA/ESA claimant who is taking part in government workfare programmes (either voluntarily or who is mandated to do so) and who continues to be in receipt of JSA/ESA only (which comes from the public purse) can be classed as employed for the purpose of government employment statistics.

Essentially, they must be counted twice; once as a JSA/ESA claimant and once as an “employee”

This must surely skew the figures.

To my mind, to class them as employees is illegal, the irreducible minimum to be classed as an employee under an implied contract OF service is mutuality of obligation i.e I will work for you and you will pay me.

But of course the “employer” is not paying the “employee” because the taxpayer is paying JSA/ESA and if the JSA/ESA has now changed to “wages” as a result of the claimant being on a workfare programme, then the weekly JSA/ESA is below National Minimum Wage and the worker should be compensated.

I trust you will be able to respond to my query in light of this further information.

Kind regards

Sent from Windows Mail

From: UK Data Service Helpdesk
Sent: ‎Thursday‎, ‎28‎ ‎August‎ ‎2014 ‎12‎:‎05
To: G Millward

Hello,
I'm not sure if the FOI Act affects our data, it is all anonymised and most of the data is available for download by registered users. Special Licence and Secure versions of the data are available but these are usually only used by academics and researchers.
Regards,
Laura Beauchamp
Data Access Officer
__________________________
T +44(0) 1206 872143
E lebeau@essex.ac.uk
W ukdataservice.ac.uk/help/get-in-touch
__________________________
UK Data Service
UK Data Archive
University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park
Colchester
Essex, CO4 3SQ, UK
__________________________
Legal Disclaimer: Any views expressed by the sender of this message
are not necessarily those of the UK Data Service or the UK Data Archive.
This email and any files with it are confidential and intended solely for
the use of the individual(s) or entity to whom they are addressed.

-----Original Message-----
Could you please confirm if the Labour Force Survey is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.