Assessment Report: Benefit statistics

This assessment report was produced during the COVID-19 pandemic which has seen dramatic shocks to the labour market and placed increased pressure on the welfare system. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has continued to produce its statistics despite significant resource pressures, and we highlight the impact of COVID-19 on these statistics where relevant in this report.

Key Findings

Our findings point to a lot of untapped potential in DWP’s benefit statistics. We found a strong need for DWP to engage more proactively with users to understand their needs and ensure the statistics on legacy benefits keep pace with statistics on Universal Credit.

COVID-19 has brought to light users’ interest in information on the characteristics of individuals or households claiming benefits. Solving these data gaps would aid understanding of which groups have been most impacted by the pandemic so that services and policies can be targeted effectively.

Information about the quality of the statistics does not support users’ understanding of the strengths and limitations of the statistics and risks the data being misinterpreted. Signposting between Stat-Xplore (DWP’s interactive tabulation tool) and the DWP landing pages for the statistics needs to be improved to ensure users are equipped to interpret and use the statistics appropriately.

Recommendations

We identified several actions for DWP to further enhance the public value, quality and trustworthiness of the DWP benefit statistics, as described in chapters one to three of this report. Fulfilling the requirements of this assessment will ensure that these statistics can continue to be designated as National Statistics.

Statistics on National Insurance Number Allocations to Adult Overseas Nationals

The report covers the statistics produced by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about National Insurance Number (NINo) registrations and reported quarterly in National Insurance number allocations to adult overseas nationals (NINo Allocations), and annually in Nationality at point of NINo registration of DWP working age benefit recipients (NINo Benefit Claimants), along with the related commentary that is published in the August publication of NINo Allocations.

NINo Allocations was previously assessed by the Authority as part of Assessment Report 85: Statistics on National Insurance Number Allocations to Adult Overseas Nationals Entering the UK in February 2011 and designation as National Statistics was confirmed in February 2012. NINo Allocations has been re-assessed as part of our ongoing programme of National Statistics re-assessments and following agreement with DWP in summer 2015. NINo Benefit Claimants has also been assessed at the request of DWP, in order for them to gain National Statistics status.

Statistics on National Insurance Number (NINo) registrations are produced to measure the volume of adult non-UK nationals registering for a NINo. However, they are frequently used to understand the level of inward migration to the UK for work purposes, by country of origin or world area, and are commonly used alongside the other migration releases published by Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Home Office (HO). There is also a wider demand for analyses based on these data as proxy measures of international migration to the UK. As such, they were one of the key statistical sources used in public debate about immigration ahead of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

The Office for Statistics Regulation has been looking at migration statistics from several angles and taking a more systemic approach, see blog from Ed Humpherson, DG for Regulation.


Related links:

Temporary suspension: letter from Ed Humpherson to John Pullinger

Temporary suspension: letter from Ed Humpherson to Neil McIvor

Decision not to gain National Statistics status: letter from Stephen Balchin to Ed Humpherson

Decision not to gain National Statistics status: response from Ed Humpherson to Stephen Balchin

Statistics on Winter Fuel Payments (Department for Work and Pensions)

This is one of a series of reports prepared under the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007. The Act allows an appropriate authority to request an assessment of official statistics against the Code of Practice for Official Statistics in order for them to gain National Statistics status. This report is in response to such a request. The report covers the sets of statistics referred to in this report as Winter Fuel Payment, produced by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and reported in:

• Winter Fuel Payment: caseload and household figures

• Winter Fuel payments by EEA country and Switzerland

Section 3 of this report adopts an ‘exception reporting’ approach – it includes text only to support the Requirements made to strengthen compliance with the Code and Suggestions made to improve confidence in the production, management and dissemination of these statistics. This abbreviated style of report reflects the Director General for Regulation’s consideration of aspects of risk and materiality . The Assessment team nonetheless assessed compliance with all parts of the Code of Practice and has commented on all those in respect of which some remedial action is recommended.

This report was prepared by the Authority’s Assessment team, and approved by the Regulation Committee on behalf of the Board of the Statistics Authority, based on the advice of the Director General for Regulation.


Letter of confirmation as National Statistics

Statistics on Access to Work (Department of Work and Pensions)

This is one of a series of reports prepared under the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 . The Act allows an appropriate authority to request an assessment of official statistics against the Code of Practice for Official Statistics in order for them to gain National Statistics status. This report is in response to such a request. The report covers the set of statistics reported in Access to Work , produced by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Section 3 of this report adopts an ‘exception reporting’ approach – it includes text only to support the Requirements made to strengthen compliance with the Code and Suggestions made to improve confidence in the production, management and dissemination of these statistics. This abbreviated style of report reflects the Director General for Regulation’s consideration of aspects of risk and materiality . The Assessment team nonetheless assessed compliance with all parts of the Code of Practice and has commented on all those in respect of which some remedial action is recommended.

This report was prepared by the Authority’s Assessment team, and approved by the Regulation Committee on behalf of the Board of the Statistics Authority, based on the advice of the Director General for Regulation.


Related Links

Statistics on Access to Work: Stephen Balchin to Ed Humpherson

Statistics on Access to Work: response from Ed Humpherson to Stephen Balchin

 

Statistics on the Work Programme (Department for Work and Pensions)

This is one of a series of reports prepared under the provisions of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 . The Act allows an appropriate authority to request an assessment of official statistics against the Code of Practice for Official Statistics in order for them to gain National Statistics status. This report is in response to such a request. The report covers the set of statistics reported in Work Programme Official Statistics (WPOS), produced by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Section 3 of this report adopts an ‘exception reporting’ approach – it includes text only to support the Requirements made to strengthen compliance with the Code and Suggestions made to improve confidence in the production, management and dissemination of these statistics. This abbreviated style of report reflects the Head of Assessment’s consideration of aspects of risk and materiality. The Assessment team nonetheless assessed compliance with all parts of the Code of Practice and has commented on all those in respect of which some remedial action is recommended.

This report was prepared by the Authority’s Assessment team, and approved by the Assessment Committee on behalf of the Board of the Statistics Authority, based on the advice of the Head of Assessment.

Statistics on the Work Programme: Letter of Confirmation as National Statistics

Final Report on Statistics Relating to the DWP Work Programme and Pre-Work Programme

Monitoring Review 2/13

In 2011, as part of the Programme for Government1 , the Department for Work and Pensions introduced a range of new schemes with the aim of helping unemployed people to gain sustained employment. Among these schemes, the Work Programme, aimed at the long term unemployed, is the one with the greatest number of places. Other schemes aimed at people unemployed for less than one year are grouped together under the label „Pre-Work Programme‟. Table 1 identifies the schemes and statistics to which this Review relates.