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UK — Ofcom publishes report on internet safety measures

July 24, 2014 Comments off

Ofcom publishes report on internet safety measures
Source: Ofcom
Ofcom has today published a report for Government outlining measures the UK’s largest internet service providers have put in place to help parents protect children from harmful content online.

This follows an agreement between the Government and BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, the four largest fixed line internet service providers (ISPs), announced in July 2013. Each ISP committed to offer new customers ‘family-friendly network-level filtering’ by the end of December 2013.

This is the second of three reports the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has asked Ofcom to produce on internet safety measures to protect children. The DCMS asked Ofcom to look at the approach taken by each ISP to implement family-friendly filtering services which block content that may be inappropriate or harmful for children, rather than assess the effectiveness of the filters.

The report also describes measures taken by ISPs to present a pre-ticked ‘unavoidable choice’ to new customers on whether or not to activate the filter, and includes initial take-up data among new customers offered filters.

The filters apply to all web based internet content, on any device that is connected to the fixed broadband network in the home.

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UK consumers believe that they can’t do without the internet and mobile phones, new Ofcom research reveals

July 23, 2014 Comments off

UK consumers believe that they can’t do without the internet and mobile phones, new Ofcom research reveals
Source: Ofcom

The study examined which communications services UK consumers consider ‘essential’ in their day to day lives and whether they are affordable, particularly for the most vulnerable in society.

This forms part of Ofcom’s on-going work to ensure consumers receive value for money from their communications services. Encouraging and promoting consumer participation in the communications markets is also a key priority for Ofcom.

There was broad consensus among consumers on what ‘essential’ means in relation to communications services.

People said the ability to contact the emergency services, keep in touch with family and friends, or access information, education and entertainment were among the key functions of essential services.

Overall, the study found that telephone services, in particular mobiles, and internet access were most essential to UK consumers. Some 61% of consumers rated voice services (mobile or landline) as essential, 59% considered mobile voice or text services as essential, while 57% regarded personal internet access as essential.

The research also revealed that certain services are considered essential by some, but less important by others, with age being a key factor. Landline telephone services are considered essential by people aged 75 and above (61%), compared to just 12% of 16-24 year olds. However, accessing the internet via a smartphone was considered essential to 53% of 16-24 year olds, but to no one aged 75 and above.

Ofcom has today published research on consumer attitudes and trends in violence shown on UK TV programmes

July 21, 2014 Comments off

Ofcom has today published research on consumer attitudes and trends in violence shown on UK TV programmes
Source: Ofcom

Ofcom has today published research on consumer attitudes and trends in violence shown on UK TV programmes.

The research supports Ofcom in its role in protecting TV viewers, especially children. It looks at how violence on TV has changed since Ofcom issued guidelines to broadcasters in 2011 to avoid programmes being shown before 9pm that might be unsuitable for children.

The research comprises two separate reports. The first study focused on public attitudes towards violence on TV among people from a range of ages and socio-economic groups.

The second was an analysis of four popular UK soap operas, which looked at instances of violence, or threats of violence, and people’s views on them.

Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending March 2014

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending March 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

Key points

  • Latest figures from the CSEW show there were an estimated 7.3 million incidents of crime against households and resident adults (aged 16 and over) in England and Wales for the year ending March 2014. This represents a 14% decrease compared with the previous year’s survey, and is the lowest estimate since the survey began in 1981.
  • The CSEW covers a broad range of victim based crimes and includes crimes which do not come to the attention of the police. Decreases were evident for most major crime types compared with the previous year; violence saw a 20% fall, criminal damage fell by 17%, and theft offences decreased by 10%.
  • In contrast, police recorded crime shows no overall change from the previous year, with 3.7 million offences recorded in the year ending March 2014. Prior to this police recorded crime figures have shown year on year reductions since 2002/03.
  • While both series have shown falls in crime since 2002/03, police recorded crime has fallen at a faster rate than the survey, particularly between 2006/07 and 2011/12. This has raised questions about the quality of crime recording by the police.
  • For the most recent year this pattern has changed with the recorded crime series showing a similar level of crime compared with the previous year while the survey continues to fall. The renewed focus on the quality of crime recording by the police is likely to have prompted improved compliance with crime recording standards in some police forces, leading to a higher proportion of reported crimes being recorded. This is thought to have particularly impacted the police recorded figures for violence against the person (up 6%) and public order offences (up 2%).
  • The number of police recorded shoplifting offences showed a 7% increase compared with the previous year. Anecdotal evidence from police forces suggests that this rise is likely to be a result of a genuine increase in crime rather than any change in recording practice.
  • There was also a large increase in the volume of fraud recorded (17% year on year), though it is difficult to judge to what extent that reflected an improvement in recording practices, an increase in public reports or a rise in actual criminality.
  • Sexual offences recorded by the police saw a 20% rise from the previous year and continues the pattern seen in recent publications. This rise is related to the effect of the Operation Yewtree investigation, connected to the Jimmy Savile inquiry, whereby more victims are coming forward to report offences to the police. Improved compliance with the recording standards for sexual offences in some police forces may also be a factor.

CRS — The United Kingdom and U.S.-UK Relations (updated)

July 16, 2014 Comments off

The United Kingdom and U.S.-UK Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

Many U.S. officials and Members of Congress view the United Kingdom (UK) as the United States’ closest and most reliable ally. This perception stems from a combination of factors, including a sense of shared history, values, and culture, as well as extensive and long-established cooperation on a wide range of foreign policy and security issues. In the minds of many Americans, the UK’s strong role in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade reinforced an impression of closeness and solidarity.

UK Consumers Open to Pure Digital Banks, According to Accenture Survey

July 16, 2014 Comments off

UK Consumers Open to Pure Digital Banks, According to Accenture Survey (PDF)
Source: Accenture

One-quarter (25 percent) of UK consumers would consider using a pure digital bank – a bank with no branches or call centres that is only accessible via laptops and mobile devices, according to the latest survey of UK current account customers conducted by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

Customers aged 25 to 34 are most keen on the idea of a pure digital, branchless bank; 33 percent would consider using one, while the youngest group of bank customers – those aged 18 to 24 – are the least receptive, with only 22 percent saying they would consider it.

Based on interviews with more than 3,600 UK current account holders, the survey points to continuing growth in the use of digital banking channels. It shows that 80 percent of customers went online at least once a month to interact with their banks, while monthly mobile banking usage has risen to 27 percent of customers compared with 21 percent in 2012 and 10 percent in 2011.

However, the survey also points to a rise in customers using branches. According to the survey, the number of customers going into a branch at least once a month has risen from 45 percent in 2012 to 52 percent this year, with the most pronounced increase among customers aged 18 to 24. Fifty-four percent of the youngest group, say they visit their bank branch each month compared to 39 percent of the same group in 2012.

UK Wages Over the Past Four Decades, 2014

July 15, 2014 Comments off

UK Wages Over the Past Four Decades, 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

This report looks at changes in earnings in the UK over the past forty years. It makes use of distributional and cohort analysis to assess the impact of the recession on real earnings as well as looking at the impact of the introduction of the national minimum wage.

UK — What Does the 2011 Census Tell Us About Inter-ethnic Relationships?

July 11, 2014 Comments off

What Does the 2011 Census Tell Us About Inter-ethnic Relationships?
Source: Office for National Statistics

Key Points

  • Nearly 1 in 10 people (9% or 2.3 million) who were living as part of a couple were in an inter-ethnic relationship in England and Wales in 2011. This has increased from 7% in 2001.
  • People from the Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups were most likely to be in an inter-ethnic relationship (85%).
  • Outside the Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups, White Irish (71%), Other Black (62%) and Gypsy or Irish Travellers (50%) were the most likely to be in an inter-ethnic relationship.
  • White British (4%) were least likely to be in inter-ethnic relationships, followed by Bangladeshi (7%), Pakistani (9%) and Indian (12%) ethnic groups.
  • The biggest difference between the sexes was found with the Chinese group, where women were almost twice as likely (39%) to be in an inter-ethnic relationship as men (20%).
  • Of all people in inter-ethnic relationships, 4 in 10 (40%) included someone who was White British – the most common being between Other White and White British (16%).
  • People who were married (or in a civil partnership) were less likely to be in an inter-ethnic relationship than people who were co-habiting (8% compared with 12%).
  • Some 7% of dependent children lived in a household with an inter-ethnic relationship.
  • Pakistani (3%), Indian (3%) and Bangladeshi (2%) dependent children were least likely to live in a household with an inter-ethnic relationship.

National Funding of Road Infrastructure

July 10, 2014 Comments off

National Funding of Road Infrastructure
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report examines the funding of roads and highways in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England and Wales, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, and Sweden. It provides a description of the infrastructure in the jurisdiction, information on the ownership and responsibility of the roads, and taxes or other ways of collecting money to fund the nation’s infrastructure. If applicable, a discussion of reforms or new initiatives is examined.

2011 Census Analysis: How do Living Arrangements, Family Type and Family Size Vary in England and Wales?

June 26, 2014 Comments off

2011 Census Analysis: How do Living Arrangements, Family Type and Family Size Vary in England and Wales?
Source: Office for National Statistics

This story summarises the distribution of family types (married couples, cohabiting couples and lone parents with/without dependent children) within England and Wales and the interaction with family size (number of dependent children). Variations in family size and type by country of birth are also highlighted.

News consumption in the UK – 2014 report

June 26, 2014 Comments off

News consumption in the UK – 2014 report
Source: Ofcom

This summary report provides key findings from Ofcom’s 2014 research into news consumption across the four main platforms: television, radio, print and online, and highlights where these have changed since 2013. Further detailed information is available in the chart pack which accompanies the document. It is published as part of our market research range of publications that examine the consumption of content and attitudes towards that content on different platforms. The aim of this report is to inform an understanding of news consumption across the UK, and within each UK nation.

The report details various findings relating to the consumption of news; the sources and platforms used, the perceived importance of different platforms and outlets for news, attitudes to individual news sources, the definition of news and interest in topics, and an overview of local media consumption. It provides details of our cross-platform news consumption metric – ‘share of references’. The report also compares findings related to news consumption with those from 2013, where possible.

Measuring National Well-being, European comparisons, 2014

June 25, 2014 Comments off

Measuring National Well-being, European comparisons, 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

  • In 2011, 71.8% of adults aged 16 and over in the UK rated their life satisfaction as 7 or more out of 10, higher than the EU–28 average of 69.3%.
  • The average rating of satisfaction with family life by people aged 16 and over in the UK in 2011 was 8.2 out of 10, higher than the EU–28 average of 7.8 out of 10.
  • Over 6 in 10 people (62.7%) aged 16 and over in the UK rated their health status as very good or good in 2011, lower than the EU–28 average of 64.0%.
  • In 2011, 58.4% of people aged 16 and over in the UK reported that they felt close to other people in the area where they lived, lower than the EU–28 average of 66.6%.
  • A fifth (20.2%) of households in the UK in 2012 reported great difficulty or difficulty in making ends meet, lower than the estimated EU–28 average of 27.7%.
  • In 2013, 79% of adults aged 15 and over in the UK scored very high, high or medium on an index of cultural practice (measuring frequency of cultural participation), higher than the EU–27 average of 66%.

UK — How broadband coverage varies between cities

June 19, 2014 Comments off

How broadband coverage varies between cities
Source: Ofcom

Some people living in urban areas are still putting up with very low broadband speeds, according to an Ofcom study that reveals a varying picture of coverage and take-up across major cities.

While lower broadband availability, take-up and speeds are commonly associated with rural areas – something Ofcom has researched before – the new study aimed to understand whether cities had similar problems.

The results show that superfast broadband coverage varies widely between major urban areas, with Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland the best performing city for superfast broadband availability at 99%.

The evolution of the UK tax base

June 18, 2014 Comments off

The evolution of the UK tax base (PDF)
Source: Sheffield Political Research Institute (University of Scheffield)

Taxation takes many different forms, encompassing progressive taxes such as income tax, regressive taxes such as Value Added Tax, and taxes targeted on private enterprises such as corporation tax. The economic downturn significantly affected tax revenues, and the Coalition Government since 2010 has sought to cut some taxes, to boost economic recovery, but at the same time raise others, in support of deficit reduction. It is important to consider, therefore, what impact these changes have had on the nature of the UK tax base as a whole. The evidence shows that regressive taxes now make up a higher proportion of tax revenues, and both progressive individual taxes and taxation targeted on private enterprises make up a lower proportion. Furthermore, revenue from business taxes is set to contract even further, even as economic growth returns, as proposed cuts are fully implemented.

The big questions about Scottish independence; Towers Watson summarises what Scottish independence could mean for pension plans, their sponsors and financial institutions.

June 17, 2014 Comments off

The big questions about Scottish independence; Towers Watson summarises what Scottish independence could mean for pension plans, their sponsors and financial institutions.
Source: Towers Watson

As we enter the final three months of the countdown to the Scottish Independence referendum, Towers Watson has released a short paper, entitled The big questions, outlining how a yes vote to Scottish independence could affect UK-wide financial institutions and pensions plans. It poses questions in several fundamental areas such as currency, membership of the European Union and tax and fiscal policy.

In the paper Towers Watson summarises the main questions for pension plans, as well as some of those likely to affect the investment and insurance industries, in the event of a yes vote. It suggests that these will only be answered through the developing economic, social and regulatory policies of an independent Scotland and not ahead of time.

UK — New advice for consumers on preventing nuisance calls

June 10, 2014 Comments off

New advice for consumers on preventing nuisance calls
Source: Ofcom

Consumers now have easier access to information about preventing and dealing with nuisance calls and messages, following the launch of new consumer guides from Ofcom.

The first guide is a short online educational video that offers tips and advice on nuisance calls. It is available with subtitles to help people with hearing impairments.

The second guide provides advice on preventing nuisance calls in an ‘Easy Read’ format, designed to be easily understood by people with learning disabilities.

Easy Read presents information clearly and simply, using pictures to support the meaning of the text. It can also be helpful for those with a limited knowledge of the English language.

The new guides are part of Ofcom’s work to help ensure consumer information about nuisance calls and messages is accessible to a wide audience. Recent Ofcom research revealed that a third (32%) of consumers were unsure of where to get advice on preventing nuisance calls.

Casting Cultural Monsters: Representations of Serial Killers in U.S. and U.K. News Media

June 6, 2014 Comments off

Casting Cultural Monsters: Representations of Serial Killers in U.S. and U.K. News Media (PDF)
Source: At the Interface

Serial murder is deeply imbedded in Western cultures, and serial killers are the subject of widespread coverage in news and entertainment media. Despite ample differences among serial murder cases and serial killers, most mass media portrayals of these cases tend to present two images: the serial killer as monster and the serial killer as celebrity. Media representations reveal much about a culture, and the use of extreme images like monsters and celebrities speak especially loudly. Yet, few researchers have explored cultural meanings embedded in representations of serial killers. Informed by theoretical arguments within cultural sociology and drawing on a qualitative content analysis of news articles published in the United Sates and the United Kingdom, this study explores news media representations of serial killers and uncovers links to broader cultural meanings . Although there are several similarities in the ways U.S. and U.K. news sources represent serial murder, important differences are evident. In particular, U.K. articles include more monster imagery and U.S. articles include more celebrity imagery. Implications and meanings behind these representations are discussed, especially as they reveal cultural values and beliefs.

Place and Cause of Death in Centenarians: A Population-Based Observational Study in England, 2001 to 2010

June 6, 2014 Comments off

Place and Cause of Death in Centenarians: A Population-Based Observational Study in England, 2001 to 2010
Source: PLoS Medicine

Background
Centenarians are a rapidly growing demographic group worldwide, yet their health and social care needs are seldom considered. This study aims to examine trends in place of death and associations for centenarians in England over 10 years to consider policy implications of extreme longevity.

Methods and Findings
This is a population-based observational study using death registration data linked with area-level indices of multiple deprivations for people aged ≥100 years who died 2001 to 2010 in England, compared with those dying at ages 80-99. We used linear regression to examine the time trends in number of deaths and place of death, and Poisson regression to evaluate factors associated with centenarians’ place of death. The cohort totalled 35,867 people with a median age at death of 101 years (range: 100–115 years). Centenarian deaths increased 56% (95% CI 53.8%–57.4%) in 10 years. Most died in a care home with (26.7%, 95% CI 26.3%–27.2%) or without nursing (34.5%, 95% CI 34.0%–35.0%) or in hospital (27.2%, 95% CI 26.7%–27.6%). The proportion of deaths in nursing homes decreased over 10 years (−0.36% annually, 95% CI −0.63% to −0.09%, p = 0.014), while hospital deaths changed little (0.25% annually, 95% CI −0.06% to 0.57%, p = 0.09). Dying with frailty was common with “old age” stated in 75.6% of death certifications. Centenarians were more likely to die of pneumonia (e.g., 17.7% [95% CI 17.3%–18.1%] versus 6.0% [5.9%–6.0%] for those aged 80–84 years) and old age/frailty (28.1% [27.6%–28.5%] versus 0.9% [0.9%–0.9%] for those aged 80–84 years) and less likely to die of cancer (4.4% [4.2%–4.6%] versus 24.5% [24.6%–25.4%] for those aged 80–84 years) and ischemic heart disease (8.6% [8.3%–8.9%] versus 19.0% [18.9%–19.0%] for those aged 80–84 years) than were younger elderly patients. More care home beds available per 1,000 population were associated with fewer deaths in hospital (PR 0.98, 95% CI 0.98–0.99, p<0.001).

Conclusions
Centenarians are more likely to have causes of death certified as pneumonia and frailty and less likely to have causes of death of cancer or ischemic heart disease, compared with younger elderly patients. To reduce reliance on hospital care at the end of life requires recognition of centenarians’ increased likelihood to “acute” decline, notably from pneumonia, and wider provision of anticipatory care to enable people to remain in their usual residence, and increasing care home bed capacity.

Country Analysis Brief: United Kingdom

June 6, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: United Kingdom
Source: Energy Information Administration

The United Kingdom (UK) is the sixth largest economy in the world, as well as the largest producer of oil and the second-largest producer of natural gas in the European Union (EU). Following years of exports of both fuels, the UK became a net importer of natural gas and crude oil in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Production from UK oil and natural gas fields peaked around the late 1990s and has declined steadily over the past several years as the discovery of new reserves and new production has not kept pace with the maturation of existing fields.

Moving Up the Ladder? Labor Market Outcomes in the United Kingdom amid Rising Immigration

May 29, 2014 Comments off

Moving Up the Ladder? Labor Market Outcomes in the United Kingdom amid Rising Immigration
Source: Migration Policy institute

The 2000s saw a significant increase in the foreign-born working-age population in the United Kingdom, in part because of the decision to forgo restrictions on the inflow of workers from the new European Union Member States. Starting in 2004, a large influx of labor from Eastern European countries—especially Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania—transformed the country’s immigrant population and labor market. 

This report analyzes the labor market integration of recent immigrants to the United Kingdom, based on UK Labour Force Survey data.  The report is part of a series of six case studies on labor market outcomes among immigrants to European Union countries.

The analysis distinguishes between different cohorts based on the year of their arrival in the country. Newcomers—especially those who have arrived since 2000—were far more likely than natives to be in the lowest-skilled jobs. And new arrivals from within the European Union were almost three times more likely to be in low-skilled work than natives in 2012. However, over time all groups showed some progress in moving out of the lowest-skilled jobs.

In part as a result of their relative youth and high education levels, many new arrivals (especially those from the European Union and in particular the EU-12 countries) moved straight into work. The plentiful supply of labor from immigration coupled with the United Kingdom’s flexible labor market encouraged job creation during the 2000s. While the economic crisis of 2008 and subsequent recession affected employment rates, the United Kingdom did not experience the large-scale unemployment that other countries suffered. However, immigrants who entered after 2008 found it more difficult to get work. Newcomers’ countries of origin, level of education, and time since arrival all shaped their occupational mobility and employment outcomes.

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