Blog & Articles

At Last, the Minimum Wage Debate Is Growing Up

Date: 27. March 2013
James Plunkett

This post originally appeared on James's Huffington Post blog

While low pay and in-work poverty have risen up the economic agenda in recent years, our policy debate has been stuck in a loop. Ask most Labour politicians about low pay and you can expect a well-intentioned but passive mixture of pride in the minimum wage and warm words on the living wage before the topic is changed to the importance of protecting support like working tax credits. Turn to a Conservative and the ingredients generally differ but are no less predictable, giving little more traction on low pay itself: a worrying silence on the minimum wage, a touching faith in general skills policy (and a falling skills budget) to help the lowest paid, before a swift change of topic to the importance of tax cuts.

read more


An Autumn Statement for strivers?

Date: 5. December 2012
Matthew Whittaker

Today’s fiscally neutral Autumn Statement was billed as one for strivers. We have already shown that around 60 per cent of the cut associated with the 1 per cent uprating of most working-age benefits and tax credits will actually fall on working households. But of course, the additional £235 increase in the personal tax allowance from April 2013 will benefit many of those in work. What’s the combined impact?

 

read more


From striver alert to future cuts: five things to expect from the Autumn Statement

Date: 4. December 2012
Gavin Kelly

This post originally appeared on Gavin's New Statesman blog

In the Autumn Statement there will be a blizzard of facts, figures, assertions and counter-assertions. There have been a few helpful pointers on what lto ook out for (try this and this), and I’ve already given my tuppence worth on what may happen to the faltering fiscal rules. But here are a few further insights to bear in mind.

First, be on striver alert. Expect plenty of warm words about "do-ers and grafters" who get up and work hard on modest means. In a different part of the Chancellor’s speech there will be tough messages and measures for those working age families who receive tax credits and benefits. Not for the first or last time the impression will be given that these are two distinct groups inhabiting different moral and economic worlds. They aren’t. Three quarters of tax credits go to working households. If reports about capping tax credit increases at 1 per cent are correct then so-called strivers are about to be squeezed too.

read more


George Osborne cannot possibly know how long austerity will last

Date: 2. December 2012
Gavin Kelly

This post originally appeared on Gavin's New Statesman blog

Next week George Osborne will hold forth on the size of the underlying deficit and reveal whether austerity will now extend until at least 2018. When he does, he won’t know what he’s talking about – and he’ll be in good company.  Neither will Ed Balls when he responds, nor will the phalanx of city economists who rush to comment, nor indeed will establishment economic institutions such as the IMF and the OECD.

This isn’t because our current crop of politicians and economists are unusually uninformed. Rather it reflects the fact the debate on fiscal policy is being driven in no small part by an economic concept – the structural deficit - that is very close to being unmeasurable. It’s an example of how what sounds like a sensible idea in theory can go wrong in practice. 

read more


Can Deregulation Fix Britain's Childcare Challenge

Date: 23. May 2012
Vidhya Alakeson

This blog originally appeared on the Huffington Post

At the start of this week Conservative MP, Elizabeth Truss, published her proposals for reducing the high costs of childcare in Britain. At the heart of her proposals is a drive to reduce regulation on the childcare industry. Truss has two main ideas: a relaxation of ratios so that a single childcare worker can look after more children and replacing the Ofsted registration and inspection scheme for childminders with accreditation through agencies as in the Netherlands. This, Truss argues, would lower the barriers to becoming a childminder and bring many people who are at home looking after their own children into the profession. The National Childminding Association could not have hoped for better marketing than it has had from Elizabeth Truss. While she is right on the importance of childminders, her proposals are not the answer to the affordability challenge facing working families.

read more


Clegg’s new tone on the economy

Date: 23. May 2012
Gavin Kelly

This post originally appeared on Gavin's New Statesman blog

It’s not every day you open the paper to read about a cabinet minister – one who isn’t the Chancellor - holding forth about the ‘instruction’ that has been given to the Treasury on a key aspect of economic policy. Nor we should we suppose that Nick Clegg elected to give the interview to the FT only to use this line due to a slip of the tongue.  It tells us something.

The specifics are about whether the Treasury should use its ‘balance sheet’ to enable a ‘massive’ increase in infrastructure spending (on housing and transport).  The timing reflects the wider context. The last few weeks have been unkind for the Coalition’s favoured economic narrative. The return of recession has been the key event but hardly the only one. The election of President Hollande, the continued euro-zone crisis, President Obama regularly appearing on our TV screens talking about jobs and growth, a Labour reshuffle that was seen to help unify different shades of economic opinion, and now the IMF saying (once again) that further action may be required, including fiscal stimulus, if the economy doesn’t pick up – all these have unsettled the Coalition.  

read more


Debt and inequality conundrums

Date: 15. May 2012
James Plunkett

This post originally appeared on the OECD blog

How did inequality and household debt interact in the run up to the 2008/09 financial crisis?  Today, a new report by NIESR for the Resolution Foundation provides new evidence on that question for the UK. The new analysis confirms the severity of the borrowing situation of low income households in Britain before the crash and raises difficult questions about patterns of consumption in an era of high inequality.

The report’s key contribution is to dig beneath headline figures for household debt to describe the borrowing picture for households at different points in the income distribution. It’s well established that UK household debt, in common with many other countries, ballooned in the late 1990s and 2000s, with the aggregate savings ratio—the percentage of household disposable income that is saved—turning negative in 2008 for the first time since records began. Yet so far these headline figures have been something of a black box. 

read more


Living wage – coming to a city near you

Date: 10. May 2012
Gavin Kelly

This post originally appeared on Gavin's New Statesman blog

The last time a letter left on a desk caused such a stir it involved an exchange between two senior politicians about the future of the country’s finances. This time the note was from a group of Whitehall cleaners to Iain Duncan Smith asking him to make good on his commitment to make work pay and make his department, DWP, a living wage employer. The fact that it so caught the public mood says something about how the question of low pay has risen in salience. 

This is in no small part due to the success of the living wage campaign, a grass-roots movement formed just over a decade ago, to push for a decent wage – above the minimum wage - for workers. It has helped shine a light on the rising problem of in-work poverty. In an era when there are many structural forces bearing down on low pay – from shifts in technology and trade to the continued demise of collective bargaining and the real terms falls in the minimum wage - the momentum behind the campaign for a living wage is a rare example of at least some countervailing pressure.

read more


Making sense of the budget

Date: 21. March 2012
Gavin Kelly

 

This post originally appeared on Gavin's New Statesman blog

“In this country we have to look upon budget promises as made of the same stuff as lover’s oaths.”  So said Lord Salisbury, three times Conservative PM, and his words are perhaps more apt than ever given that all the love drained out of the Coalition’s marriage some time ago. We need to sift carefully before being sure about what today really means.  

As with all Budgets we should start this process by asking what impact it will have on the overall economy, who wins and loses, and what it will mean for the political strategies of different parties. 

In terms of macroeconomics this budget was always going to be a non-event. It is broadly fiscally neutral, with only very minor upward ticks to growth forecasts. None of this is a surprise: this chancellor was always going to ignore those calling for more stimulus. This Budget, like all the others this Parliament, lives in the shadow of the choices made in the emergency Budget in June 2010 and subsequent spending review.

 

read more


Share this

Filters

Rss Feed

Archive

Tag Cloud

Gavin Kelly Resolution Foundation living standards childcare James Plunkett Housing inflation wages tax credits Squeezed Middle tax Vidhya Alakeson coalition inequality Matthew Whittaker minimum wage new statesman Debt Spending Review female employment low pay Squeezed Britain Universal Credit autumn statement growth Labour USA welfare women work incentives Budget 2012 employment generation rent giselle cory household income IFS institutional investment labour market living wage low to middle income politics social mobility affordability Audit budget 2011 cameron Commission on Living Standards distribution earnings economy Ed Miliband education fiscal choices interest rates living low pay commission older workers recovery skills social care spending round sr2013 unemployment zero hours Affordable Housing America budget child benefit child poverty cost of living David Cameron debt target degree Guardian income jared bernstein joe coward lee savage Lib Dems living costs measuring poverty middle class Obama pay poverty recession tax cuts uk 10p arrears benefits borrowing Commission cpi cuts david willetts debt forgivenes dilnot Donald Hirsch fiscal forbearance gearing George Osborne great stagnation household household debt housing market huffington post income tax ippr Ipsos MORI jobs gap lane kenworthy Low earners matthew pennycook mortgages Nick Clegg pension Pensions personal allowance personal allowances polarisation precarious work prices prospect q2 growth regional renting rpi shared ownership social housing social mobility foundation Sophia Parker standards sutton trust tax changes tax relief think tank think-tank underemployment Wage squeeze 2013 Work working poor zero hours contract 'Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings' 'earnings squeeze' 'squeeze' 'wage stagnation' #ows £10000 2011 2012 50p 99% a matter of time Alan Johnson Alex Hurrell allowance andrew haldane Anna Vignoles apprenticeships ASHE assets Australia bank of england below minimum wage benefit freezes borgen Boris Johnson budget 2013 cap care assistant centreforum chancellor childcar choices CiF citizens UK Coalition politics Conor D'Arcy conservatives Cost of Motherhood costs council tax council tax benefit CPIH daniel chandler datablog de-coupling debt peril deficit department for education dependency election election 2015 enforcement equity release family felicity dennistoun Financial Times first-time buyers food prices full employment gap GDP gender gingerbread good life gregg growth without gain HELP Committee higher rate higher rate tax relief hmrc holmes homeownership hourglass household finances household spending illegal in work income inequality incomes increase Independent indignados international jobs John Van Reenen jrf Labour Party Left Foot Forward liberal democrats living wage foundation LMIs low middle earners Low Pay Britain low pay threshold low to middle income earners low wage low wage work machin marginal tax rate marriage tax allowance matt whittaker matthew hancock mayhew median real wage median wage Mervyn King Middle Britain miminum wage minimum income standards missing out mobility monetary policy Montague mortgage market mothers national minimum wage netmums new statesman blog new year newby newham niesr nil hours number paid below minimum wage nursery world OBR occupy occupy wall street OECD older ons over 50s paul gregg pay and pensions pay progression pensions relief personal personal finance pledge cards policy politicans poll population precarious employment predistribution prescription charges priorities private rented private rented sector private sector growth progression prs public sector public services public spending ratios reduce credit card reform Regions Rented Sector resolution foudnation retirement robin wales robots routine jobs RPIJ rss savings Senate shared shereen hussein social society southern cross spending cuts squeezed state state pension age statistics steve machin tax and benefit changes tax and benefits Tax Benefits technology The Spirit Level threshold tories travel time Treasury trends unison university US election van reenen VAT voters voting wage wage growth wage inequality Welfare Debate welfare state White Paper workers Working part time lower skilled job young people Youth unemployment youth wages