Archive for February 2012

What can the chancellor do to address the high costs of childcare?

Date: 28. February 2012
Vidhya Alakeson

This piece first appeared on the Guardian's Comment is Free site.

Laura works 25 hours a week as an accounts administrator. After paying for childcare, she takes home only half of what she earns. This is an all too familiar picture for working families in Britain and, according to Monday's report by the Daycare Trust, things are getting worse. The average part-time nursery place for a child under two now costs more than £5,000 a year, and more like £6,500 in London. Lower income families feel particularly hard hit this year because of last year's cut to support for childcare costs, and will find themselves even worse off after this April's change to tax credits. Eligibility for working tax credits will be tied to working longer hours and that will mean paying for more childcare.

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What works in encouraging saving?

Date: 23. February 2012
Giselle Cory

This post originally appeared on Left Foot Forward

There are many tricks that can be used to encourage more saving – but we don’t know if any of them work. That is the finding from a new report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies. In looking outside classical economics to understand what drives savings, the authors pinpoint four areas: financial incentives; information, education and training; choice architecture; and social marketing.

If the word “nudge” is going through your head right now, you’d be right: this is the stuff of behavioural economics. Though the lessons from this field of research have been part of policymaking for some time, they have never been more explicitly so than now (see the work of the government’s behavioural insights team).

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Why Nick Clegg's still taxing Cameron and Miliband

Date: 19. February 2012
Gavin Kelly

This post originally appeared on Gavin's New Statesman blog

It remains a curiosity of today's political scene that a small and unpopular party bumping along on 7 to 10 per cent in opinion polls is making the waves on the central issue of tax policy. On this one issue at least, the two main parties find themselves reacting to the gauntlet the Liberal Democrats have laid down.

Nick Clegg's recent speech to the Resolution Foundation making the case for going further and faster in reaching a personal tax allowance of £10,000 has been widely reported as a significant moment in the genesis of the forthcoming budget which due to the precarious position of the economy, and the increasingly creaky nature of the Coalition, is destined to be a highly charged affair both fiscally and politically.

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The fraying thread between pay and productivity

Date: 17. February 2012
James Plunkett

This post appeared on the OECD Insights blog

Do workers reap the benefits of productivity growth?  Few questions are more central to the conundrum of faltering living standards. If the 20th century was a golden era for material wellbeing in Britain, that’s explained by one factor above all others: from 1900 to 2000 UK labour productivity grew roughly fourfold, translating into unprecedented growth in real earned income.

Of all the findings from our recent work at the Resolution Foundation, then, few are more worrying than those that suggest a weakening

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Tax credits: a flawed friend

Date: 17. February 2012
Gavin Kelly and

Gavin Kelly, The Guardian

Following on from this week's bleak news on jobs – with unemployment up and confirmation that those new jobs on offer are all part time and ...

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Beneath the unemployment stats, our jobs market is changing

Date: 15. February 2012
Giselle Cory

Unemployment is up.  That’s the latest from the Office of National Statistics.  Their stats released this morning show 48,000 people fell out of work in the last quarter, with the unemployment rate rising to 8.4 percent. For ministers looking for a positive spin, the good news is that employment’s also up, and there has been a slight decrease in economic inactivity.

Yet these headline measures mask significant changes in working patterns. The number of people working part-time or on a temporary basis has risen, while the number of full-timers has dropped. Self-employment, though it has fallen very slightly, has been creeping year-on-year much beyond expected trends. It is now near its highest levels since records began.

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Budget 2012: 20 minutes in, 1-0 Team Clegg

Date: 11. February 2012
James Plunkett

This post originally appeared on the New Statesman

It may still be early February but the March Budget has already kicked off. This morning's Telegraph splashes with Danny Alexander's first attacking move, with the Chief Secretary saying he strongly supports a reduction in higher rate pension tax relief to fund further increases in the personal allowance. For all the Lib Dem's previous talk of mansion taxes and crackdowns on tax evasion, this is serious stuff. Alexander claims the government could save £7 billion by reducing the 40p tax relief currently given to higher rate tax payers to 20p, the first cash on the table that would come close to funding his party's ambition on the £10k allowance.

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The lesson Cameron needs to learn from Birgitte Nyborg

Date: 9. February 2012
Gavin Kelly

This post originally appeared on Gavin's New Statesman blog

David Cameron has been in Stockholm this week, expressing his love for all things Nordic from economic openness, to free schools, and the Danish TV series The Killing.

Based on his pronouncements today he's doubtless also been attracted to Borgen, the political drama in which a female prime minister juggles coalition politics and the demands of a young family at the same time as driving through her commitment to equality in the corporate boardroom.

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Cameron is right to focus on quality apprenticeships

Date: 7. February 2012
James Plunkett

This blog first appeared on Coffee House, The Spectator Blog.

If there are ‘no votes in skills’, as the old dictum goes, there seem to be some in apprenticeships. Hence David Cameron's call this morning for apprenticeships to become a ‘gold standard’ qualification ranking alongside degrees from the best universities. His goal is to rectify Britain's shockingly poor performance on mid-level skills compared to world leaders such as Germany.

 

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