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A. Published Statistics

DWP statistics are freely available and can help providers or funders to assess their progress with regard to a number of labour market targets; indicating key trends for areas over time. The DWP online statistical resource centre http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd has at its core a tabulation tool for creating and refining queries http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/tabtool.asp as well as a range of benefits-based statistics http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/statistics_a_to_z.asp and local NOMIS reports https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/Default.asp.  

DWP statistics provide longitudinal analysis, thereby indicating those moving out or on to working age benefits over time. This data is freely available (without need for data requests), covers all types of benefit claimants and by definition the claimant population (if not the local area client base), including Incapacity Benefit and Job Seeker Allowance clients. It can be extensively data mined in order to explore sub-categories and trends, such as benefit type, location, disability, age and gender.

Use of published statistics of this type will encourage questions which may not be answered through these tools alone, such as What impact are our providers having on these results or Which clients are we dealing with directly? Reviewing this type of published data on a periodic basis will provide much useful information and insight but importantly it will also indicate where more specific local information is needed.

There are a number of limitations in the use of this type of information:

  • Data is anonymous and it is difficult to track individuals with multiple barriers or issues.
  • It is not possible to understand who is also engaging with local providers and the relationship between this data and local provision is uncertain.
  • The data is some months out of date and therefore not as accurate as other local sources.
  • The data does not indicate where individuals moving from working age benefit are going - are they moving out of working age or into work?
  • The tabulation tool (now under re-development 10/08) is not easy to use and not intuitive.

Perhaps the biggest single barrier is in the time and expertise needed to fully analyze the data. This data requires numerous queries to build a picture of claimants within an area. This is a time consuming task and needs expert input, despite the efforts of some of the more accessible NOMIS reports.

Ultimately, this resource should not be overlooked but where there are more questions than answers from the DWP statistics it is important to look to other management information sources.

We make extensive use of NOMIS data. Reviewing where the gaps are has been a good means of assessing where an MIS could be really useful.

Respondent, Area A