• Research Briefing

    2011 Benefit Uprating

    From April 2011 rates of many benefits and Tax Credits will increase; this will mainly be in line with the 3.1% annual increase in the CPI to September 2010. Exceptionally, this year the basic state retirement pension will be increased by the 4.6%. The Government is committed to a "triple lock" for uprating the basic state pension, which means in future it will be increased by the highest of the increase in earnings, prices (as reflected in the CPI increase) or 2.5%. This year, to ensure the basic state pension is in line with the previous uprating rules, the increase in the RPI is being used. There is a requirement for Pension Credit to be increased in line with earnings. However, to ensure the least well-off pensioners benefit from the triple guarantee, the standard minimum income guarantee in Pension Credit will increase in April 2011 by the cash rise in a full basic State Pension. This note sets out the basis for the April 2011 uprating. It focuses on the Retirement Pension and Pension Credit but also contains a summary of the main benefit and tax credit rates before and after the uprating. Child Benefit is frozen until April 2014.

  • Research Briefing

    Local elections 2011

    Elections are due on Thursday 5 May 2011 in 279 English local authorities. Elections will also be held on the same day to the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly. Scottish Council elections due in 2011 have been deferred until 2012 (and next in 2017 before returning to a 4-year cycle). In Northern Ireland, elections to the existing 26 local councils are also due to be held on 5 May 2011

  • Research Briefing

    Members 1979-2010

    This paper provides a complete list of all Members who have served in the House of Commons from the General Election of 1979 to the dissolution of Parliament on 12 April 2010. It also provides basic biographical and parliamentary data. The paper is based on data collated from published sources by the House of Commons Library and Information Office. It replaces an earlier version, Research Paper 09/31.

  • Research Briefing

    2010 General Election: new constituencies; seats and swing

    The 2010 General Election will use new constituency boundaries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland the boundaries will be the same as 2005. After the election there will be 650 seats in the House of Commons, four more than the 646 now. In partisan terms, the new areas give a net benefit to the Conservatives. If the 2005 election had been fought on the new boundaries the Conservatives would have gained around 12 additional seats and Labour seven fewer.

  • Research Briefing

    2010 Benefit Uprating

    From April 2010 rates of many benefits and Tax Credits will change, mostly they will increase by one of three factors: +2.5% Basic State Pension +1.8% Standard minimum guarantee Pension Credit, Income Support, Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit +1.5% Attendance Allowance, Carer's Allowance, Child Benefit, Disability Living Allowance, Working & Child Tax Credits The 1.5% increase is being paid by "bringing forward" a proportion of the increase expected in April 2011. Next year, any increase over 1.5% will be paid in the usual way. For some benefits there is to be no increase in April 2010. For example, pensions on top of the basic state pension (additional pension, increments to the pension, Graduated Retirement Benefit) and dependency increases will remain at the same rates. This note sets out the basis for the April 2010 uprating of the main social security benefits. It focuses on the Retirement Pension and Pension Credit but also contains a summary of the main benefit and tax credit rates before and after the uprating.

  • Research Briefing

    European Parliament Elections 2009

    Elections to the European Parliament were held across the 27 states of the European Union between 4 and 7 June 2009. The UK elections were held concurrently with the county council elections in England on 4 June. The UK now has 72 MEPs, down from 78 at the last election, distributed between 12 regions. The Conservatives won 25 seats, both UKIP and Labour 13 and the Liberal Democrats 11. The Green Party held their two seats, while the BNP won their first two seats in the European parliament. Labour lost five seats compared with the comparative pre-election position. The Conservatives won the popular vote overall, and every region in Great Britain except the North East, where Labour won, and Scotland, where the SNP won. UKIP won more votes than Labour. UK turnout was 34.5%. Across Europe, centre-right parties, whether in power or opposition, tended to perform better than those on the centre-left. The exact political balance of the new Parliament depends on the formation of Groups. The UK was not alone in seeing gains for far-right and nationalistic parties. Turnout across the EU was 43%. It was particularly low in some of the newer Member States. Part 1 of this paper presents the full results of the UK elections, including regional analysis and local-level data. Part 2 presents summary results of the results across the EU, together with country-level summaries based on data from official national sources.

  • Research Briefing

    What happens when prices fall?

    Inflation as measured by the RPI was -0.3% in March 2009, the first time it has been negative since 1960. It is likely to continue to be negative for some months to come in 2009 with possible consequences for pensions, benefits and taxes.

  • Research Briefing

    2009 European Parliament Elections

    Voting in the 2009 European Parliament elections will take place across the EU from 4 to 7 June. In the United Kingdom voting will be on Thursday 4 June 2009. The number of UK MEPs is to be reduced at these elections from 78 currently to 72. On the basis of the 2004 results, the UK's six fewer MEPs would have meant reductions of three MEPs for the Conservatives, two for the Liberal Democrats and one for Labour. For Great Britain, seats in the European Parliament are allocated to Parties according to a "d'Hondt" quota system which operates for each region. For Northern Ireland a different system of Single Transferable Vote is used. This note sets out the changes to the number of seats by region and what this would have meant if the 2004 elections had been fought on this basis.

  • Research Briefing

    Measures of average and spread

    A common way of summarising figures is to present an average. Suppose, for example, we wanted to look at incomes in the UK the most obvious summary measurement to use would be average income. Another indicator which might be of use is one which showed the spread or variation in individual incomes. Two countries might have similar average incomes, but the distribution around their average might be very different and it could be useful to have a measure which quantifies this difference.