Blog & Articles

Another Tory-Lib Dem coalition in 2015? It's no done deal

Date: 17. October 2013
Gavin Kelly

The polls suggest the next election will be tight, so we can expect 18 months of speculation about the likelihood of a hung parliament and the coalition deals that might result. Expect every policy announcement to be scrutinised as much for what it says about future coalition talks as it will be for its actual content.

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The case for looser childcare ratios rests on confusion

Date: 29. January 2013
James Plunkett

This blog originally appeared on the New Statesman

The government claims to want to reduce costs and increase quality. It can't have it both ways. This morning’s announcement on childcare ratios should be just the hors d'oeuvre before the government sets out its plans to increase childcare support for parents. According to the latest rumours, it now looks likely that the majority of any new money will be spent on tax relief for higher income households, making this a potentially important political moment. For now, though, today’s announcement merits some serious attention.

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The coalition and families with children - a taxing issue?

Date: 21. January 2013
Gavin Kelly

This blog originally appeared on the New Statesman

Often it takes the deadline of an impending announcement to really expose underlying tensions about the future direction of policy. 

The coalition’s recent sorry saga on childcare policy – breathless briefings about a major expansion in tax-relief meant to herald the coalition’s renewed vitality, followed by an awkward silence and then the inevitable stories about who is to blame for the lack of progress - is a case in point. Never mind what this tells us about the coalition’s aptitude for media management, it also reflects something important about underlying attitudes towards the nature of the tax and benefit system.

There have, of course, always been different objectives in our welfare system with different parties placing varying amounts of weight on them: social insurance or poverty reduction; targeting individuals or households.  

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Childcare tax breaks risk helping the rich the most

Date: 8. January 2013
Vidhya Alakeson

This post originally appeared on The Staggers blog

At present, there are almost no voucher recipients among the poorest 40 per cent of households.
In the week that parents earning over £50,000 saw their child benefit cut, the speculation is that the government intends to introduce tax relief for childcare, possibly making those who were worse off from the child benefit change, better off once again. In the absence of an announcement from ministers, we will not know what the government actually intends to do until next week’s announcement. But the talk is of the introduction of basic rate tax relief for childcare worth £2,000 a year per child.

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The Coalition's Childcare Policy Moves in Mysterious Ways

Date: 8. January 2013
James Plunkett

This post orginally appeared on The Huffingtom Post blog

There may have been few details in Monday's renewal of Coalition vows but one key policy continues to invite debate: the government's plans for childcare. Much remains uncertain but it does now seem clear that the government hopes to use tax relief as its key way of reducing childcare costs. While Coalition wrangles continue about the distributional impact of this choice, it now seems likely this will mean a shift of priorities away from Labour's focus on tax credits and universal free places for preschool kids. And if new tax reliefs are worth £2,000 per child as briefing suggests - roughly twice as large as those in the current system - a relatively big change may be in the offing.

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Acting like an opposition while in government can only take you so far

Date: 18. January 2012
Gavin Kelly

Tomorrow David Cameron will complete the beauty parade of party leaders offering their take on crony capitalism, following on from Ed Miliband's conference speech, which he amplified last week, and Nick Clegg's call for a "John Lewis economy". Expect Cameron to balance a fierce rhetorical attack on boardroom excess ("fill your boots capitalism") with plenty of warm words about the virtues of proper markets and a nod towards the sunny possibilities of "popular capitalism" -- a theme that all Tory leaders since Eden and Macmillan have returned to, along with a good few of their Labour counterparts.

The speech comes in advance of Vince Cable's forthcoming proposals on reigning in executive pay, timed to pre-empt the City bonus season, and it tops off a concerted three week campaign by the coalition to wrestle the theme of "responsible capitalism" out of Labour's hands.

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Money in hands

Getting the measure of a better capitalism

Date: 12. October 2011
Gavin Kelly and

This post originally appeared on Gavin's New Statesman blog

Today the Institute for Fiscal Studies has launched an Exocet at the Coalition's claims to be a one-nation government taking a lead on poverty reduction. Nearly all measures of poverty are set to rise over the next five to ten years and the Coalition's policies are part of the cause.

But underneath the headlines the IFS analysis serves a less likely purpose. It provides timely grounds for questioning some of the key measures we use to judge progress in our society. In particular, it raises difficult questions about our reliance on a formula that says 'GDP growth plus poverty reduction' is enough.

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child poverty

Child poverty: We need to rethink our 2020 target

Date: 11. October 2011
James Plunkett and

This post originally appeared on the Independent blog

This morning the IFS published its latest projections for poverty. The stats have been widely reported, with most coverage focusing on the ‘unprecedented’ seven percent squeeze on middle incomes. But perhaps the more surprising figures are those for long-term trends in child poverty. On our current path, 800,000 more children will fall into poverty by 2020, a rise in the child poverty rate from 19.2 percent today to 24.4 percent. That’s the kind of sustained increase in child poverty not seen since the 1980s – and an almost complete reversal of the 900,000 children lifted out of poverty under Labour. It’s a wake-up call for both parties and a chance to seriously rethink our approach to the 2020 target to abolish child poverty.

You might say that, given the current crisis, these gloomy figures aren’t surprising – things will take time to recover and we shouldn’t overreact. But this story, of an economy knocked down and slowly getting back on its feet, simply doesn’t fit the reality. On the contrary, relative poverty is perversely set to fall in the short-term because those in the middle are fairing so badly.

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child poverty

The coalition is actively increasing child poverty

Date: 11. October 2011
Felicity Dennistoun and

This post originally appeared on Left Foot Forward

As has been widely reported, new figures published today by the Institute for Fiscal Studies forecast that the number of children in poverty is set to rise.

Specifically, child poverty will rise continually during the first half of this decade and stay at approximately the same level until 2020, when there will be over three million children living in poverty in the UK. The figures about adults are similarly depressing; by 2015 6.6 million working age adults will be living in absolute poverty.

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