Unprecedented support for employees’ wages last week has been followed up by equally significant, and even more generous, support for the self-employed. But gaps remain

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Yesterday, the Chancellor announced that last week’s pledge to underwrite 80 per cent of the wages of employees without work to do during this crisis is being matched with significant grants to the self-employed. This is an important addition to existing plans to support employees, and in many ways a more generous offer. The Self-Employed … Continued

New data shows households were struggling even before coronavirus

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Today we got the best data yet on the state of Britain’s household finances going into the present crisis, and – given that the impact of this shutdown and recession will be unequally felt – it was important that we also got more information on how particular groups were faring. Neither perspective is reassuring.  There was no growth in typical incomes between 2016-17 and 2018-19  The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)’s new, detailed household … Continued

Family spending before the coronavirus crisis helps us to understand its potential impact

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Last week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its annual rundown of how UK households spent their money. These statistics provide the most detailed and direct insight into current living standards, and with a coronavirus-driven economic crisis in the making, they also give us a guide as to how we might expect things to … Continued

Key take-aways from the Chancellor’s package of measures to support workers in the coronavirus crisis

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The Chancellor’s announcements on Friday 20 March were unprecedented in their scale and reach, and absolutely vital for supporting firms and family incomes in the face of the current crisis. Here are five key take-aways on how these changes will affect families, and three next steps for the Government to consider.   1. At a … Continued

Charting the UK’s lost decade of income growth

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Unlike with employment or GDP, detailed data on disposable household incomes comes with a long lag. So today the ONS released its main household income results for 2018-19. There will be more data to come in future (including poverty numbers later this month), but what we’ve learned today is not reassuring about post-referendum living standards. … Continued

Is the government’s apprenticeships strategy set to change?

Changing policy context could prove welcome if it means focusing Levy funds on the people that really need Apprenticeships

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While the latest data on apprenticeship starts don’t show much change on previous months – down on recent years, with the number going to older apprentices at higher levels of study is up – the backdrop to apprenticeships has changed. For a start, we have a new Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, who … Continued

The new government needs to focus on the alarming fall in apprenticeship starts

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With a new year, a new-ish government and the country soon to (officially) exit the European Union, there’s hope that policy makers will renew their focus on domestic concerns. And given the figures published today (Thursday) showing an alarming fall in apprenticeship starts – a greater focus on this issue would be a good place … Continued

Would a richer decade have meant a happier one?

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Consider the good fortune of a country far richer than the UK. Its economy is over £300bn bigger and its workers are almost a quarter more productive than Britain’s, enjoying wages that are typically £7k higher. Households are flush enough to spend thousands more on consumption, just as public services are far better resourced. This … Continued

Living standards
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Incomes
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Jobs
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Labour market
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Pay
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Inequality & poverty
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Cities and regions
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Political parties and elections

Election 2019: how Britain’s North-South divide is changing

Closing the divide once and for all is a challenge all political parties say they want to embrace

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The North-South divide is a theme often used by – and against – politicians to highlight inequality in the UK, and election time is no exception. But this divide has evolved over time, and is by no means the only geographical divide in the country.   The big economic divide Productivity – or how efficiently … Continued

Skills
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Apprenticeships
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Political parties and elections

Apprenticeships and adult education: how do the major parties compare?

Latest Department for Education figures show the problems that need addressing

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While big rows over Brexit and the size of state we want have tended to dominate the news cycle over recent weeks, the 2019 general election campaign hasn’t been entirely devoid of skills policy. In fact, the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative Party manifestos all include bold – albeit thinly detailed – proposals on apprenticeships … Continued

James Smith

Political leaders must set out credible plans to tackle the next downturn

The time for action on macroeconomic policy is now

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Okay, fair enough, there’s a lot going on right now. With a fraught election campaign in full flow, and our future relationship with the EU still up in the air, you can be forgiven for taking your eye off preparations for the next recession. But boom and bust hasn’t gone away. So while the sun … Continued

Low pay
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Pay
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Wealth & assets
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Political parties and elections

Question Time’s £80K man was wrong about the top 5%. But the super-rich are on another planet

Those in his earning bracket have far more in common with workers on average pay than they do with the 1%

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f you live in Bolton and earn more than £80,000, you’re rich compared with your neighbours. Really rich. The average pay for all workers is just £22,000 and one in four earns less than £15,000. And yes, you’re still rich among the country as a whole: only 5% of earners make more than £80,000 – … Continued

The child poverty crisis needs pushing up the agenda in Britain’s ‘Brexit’ election

None of the main party manifestos will end child poverty

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Both the main parties have learnt lessons from the 2017 election. The Conservatives have learnt not to scare the horses with big new policies. Their 2019 manifesto is very much a ‘safety-first’ document. Labour learnt that they have a problem with pensioners – 70-year olds are twice as likely to vote Tory as Labour – … Continued

Demographics
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Political parties and elections

The middle aged, not the middle class, are the new swing voters

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An election is coming. You may have noticed. The early phase of any campaign is the contest about what the election will actually be about – where the battle lines will lie. You want it to be all about Brexit if you’re gunning for the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats, and everything but Brexit if you’re … Continued

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