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Travel-To-Work Areas

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how travel to work areas are defined; and what changes have been made in this definition since 1979. [110686]

I have been asked to reply.The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl to Mr. Frank Field, dated 6 May 2003:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question on the definition of Travel to Work Areas (TTWAs) and the changes in this definition since 1979. I am replying in his absence. (110686)

The current criteria for defining TTWAs are that at least 75 per cent. of the area's resident workforce must work in the area and at least 75 per cent. of the people who work in the area must also live in the area. The area must also have a working population of at least 3,500. For areas with a working population in excess of 20,000, the self-containment rate is reduced to 70 per cent. TTWA boundaries must be non-overlapping and contiguous, covering the entire United Kingdom. TTWAs do not cross national boundaries.

TTWAs are produced by analysing commuting flows from the decennial Census of Population. The current geography, based on the 1991 Census, was published in May 1998. A report of this exercise, entitled "1991-based Travel-to-Work Areas", is held in the House of Commons Library. Prior to May 1998, the TTWAs were based on the 1981 Census and were published in September 1984; they were created using the current methods.

The TTWA geography in existence in 1979, based on the 1971 Census, was published in July 1978. While this map was also based on a self-containment rate of 75 per cent. there were several methodological changes introduced for the 1984 map. These improvements to the precision and robustness of the map were made possible by the introduction of computers and postcoded data. More details are available in an article in an Occasional Supplement to the Employment Gazette 92 (9), which is also available from the House of Commons Library.

The 1979 TTWA map was defined in terms of Employment Office (Jobcentre) areas. Since the TTWA map based on the 1981 Census, the definition has been by aggregations of wards.

ONS are currently investigating the usage and potential demand for an update to the TTWA geography based on data from the 2001 Census.

There have been significant changes to the availability of local area data since the last update. Professor Coombes of Newcastle University was commissioned to write a report on this and some of the data issues that affect the 2001 Census.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) unemployed claimants and (b) unfilled vacancies there are in each travel to work area; and if he will express these data as an employment to vacancy ratio. [110762]

I have been asked to reply.The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl to Mr. Frank Field, dated 6 May 2003:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question regarding the number of unemployed claimants and unfilled vacancies for each travel-to-work-area. I am replying in his absence. (110762)

I am placing in the House of Commons Library tables showing the claimant count, that is the numbers claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, and data on unfilled vacancies at Jobcentres as requested. Because of distortions to the Jobcentre vacancy data which occurred as a result of the introduction of the 'Employer Direct' initiative by Jobcentre Plus, data on unfilled vacancies have not been published since April 2001. Therefore, I have provided claimant count data for March 2003, the most recent available, as well as data for April 2001 for comparison with the unfilled vacancies. The data are not seasonally adjusted.

Please note that the Jobcentre data represent only a proportion of vacancies in the economy. The experimental survey of job vacancies, which asks employers for the number of vacancies they have, is not available below national level.