European report on age and employment

The European Commission emblem.

In 2011, the European Commission published ‘Age and Employment’ from the European Network of Legal Experts.

The report examines some practical aspects of the implementation of the prohibition of age discrimination by reporting States. In particular, the report considers how the different ways in which the various exceptions, or potential exceptions, to the principle of equal treatment are phrased in the Directive have influenced national legislation on age discrimination.

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Click here for the website of the European Network of Legal  Experts

Parliamentary Committee report on Welfare Rights bill

The House of Commons logo.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) published its legislative scrutiny Report on the Welfare Reform Bill on 12 December 2011 .

The Government’s principal objective in this Bill is to support people to move into and progress in work, while still supporting those in greatest need. The committee commends this objective, which is consistent with many international human rights instruments which recognise the right to work and the right to an adequate standard of living, and therefore welcomes the Bill as a potentially human rights enhancing measure. However, it has a number of concerns about its compatibility with the requirements of human rights law.

The committee regrets the fact that the Government has not provided Parliament with a full human rights memorandum which includes a detailed analysis of the Bill’s compatibility with the UK’s obligations under relevant international human rights treaties. Providing such information to Parliament strengthens the principle of subsidiarity: laws passed after detailed parliamentary scrutiny of their human rights compatibility are more likely to withstand subsequent judicial scrutiny.

The committee calls on the Government to improve its capacity to conduct equality impact assessments. It reiterates its previous recommendation that, where the Government’s view on compatibility relies on safeguards to be provided in secondary legislation, draft Regulations should be published together with the Bill. It also calls upon the Government better to monitor the post-legislative impact of the measures in the Bill.

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OECD report on income inequality

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD

Published in December 2011, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report ‘Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising’ shows rising inequality in OECD countries, with the fastest rise in the UK.

The report shows that ‘Income inequality among working-age persons has risen faster in the United Kingdom than in any other OECD country since 1975. From a peak in 2000 and subsequent fall, it has been rising again since 2005 and is now well above the OECD average’.

A key finding of the report is that ‘tax and benefit systems play a major role in reducing market-driven inequality, but have become less effective at redistributing income since the mid-1990s’.

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Click here for country note on the UK

Click here for further details of the report

Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on poverty and social exclusion

Joseph Rowntree Foundation logo

On 1 December 2011, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published ‘Monitoring poverty and social exclusion 2011’.

The annual report on the state of poverty and social exclusion in the UK, from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the New Policy Institute, covers a wide range of issues, ranging from low income, worklessness and debt, to ill-health, poor education and problems in communities.

The research by Hannah Aldridge, Anushree Parekh, Tom MacInnes and Peter Kenway highlights the following key points:

  • In the year to 2009/10, the child poverty rate fell to 29%, the second fall in two years. Child poverty fell by around one-seventh under the previous Labour Government.
  • The poverty rate for working-age adults without dependent children rose both in 2009/10 and over the last decade. It now stands at 20%.
  • The pensioner poverty rate, at 16%, is now around half the rate it was in 1997.
  • By mid-2011, six million people were unemployed, lacking but wanting work or working part-time because no full time job was available. Though no higher than the previous year, this was 2 million higher than in 2004.
  • On a range of education indicators at ages 11, 16 and 19, more pupils are reaching expected standards than in previous years, continuing long-term positive trends. Although closing slowly, the gaps between attainment levels of those on free school meals and other children are smaller than in previous years.
  • The proportion of households in fuel poverty has risen significantly in the last few years. Almost all households in the bottom tenth by income are in fuel poverty, as are half of households in the second bottom tenth.
  • Changes to the tax credit system mean that an additional 1.4m working households on low incomes now face marginal effective tax rates of over 70%.
  • The number of households accepted as homeless in England rose in 2010/11 for the first time since 2003/04 and now stands at 65,000. The number of court orders for mortgage repossessions in England and Wales rose to 21,000 in the first half of 2011, the first significant rise for three years.

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Inclusion London report: ‘Bad News for Disabled People’

Bad News for Disabled People was published in October 2011. It is a study of changes in the way the media are reporting disability and how it has impacted on public attitudes towards disabled people.

The study found a significant increase in the reporting of disability in the period covered, but a reduction in the proportion of articles which describe disabled people in sympathetic and deserving terms, and an increase in articles focusing on disability benefit and fraud.

CQC reports on services for people with learning disabilities

Care Quality Commission

On 8 December 2011, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published the first five reports from a targeted programme of 150 inspections of hospitals and care homes that care for people with learning disabilities.

According to the CQC, ‘although it is too early to draw universal conclusions, the indications from these and other completed inspections from the programme is that leadership and governance needs to be stronger to ensure that services are safe and meet essential standards. Findings so far suggest a lack of understanding about what safe, person-centred care looks like’.


Runnymede report on ‘Retirement Migration Decisions among Older People’

The Runnymede logo.

‘To Stay or Not to Stay. Retirement Migration Decisions among Older People’ was published by Runnymede in December 2011.

The report, by Phil Mawhinney and Omar Khan, shows the considerations that influence how older BME people decide where to spend retirement.

Based on research among Caribbean, Moroccan and white British people, it shows that some overseas-born people want to ‘return’ overseas when they retire but face significant barriers, such as ‘frozen’ state pensions and more expensive healthcare. The report calls for the government to ensure that those moving abroad can receive fully-uprated pensions and to re-think how people can receive repayment for the contributions made in the UK if they live overseas when retired.

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