Auto-enrolment has had a great beginning. But will it have a happy ending?

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We hear a lot about good policy plans gone wrong (Universal Credit springs to mind) for obvious reasons. But we ought to listen (and learn) from successes too. Auto-enrolment into workplace pension savings is the obvious candidate for this cheery policy tale, though the story has only just begun. Over nine million have signed up … Continued

‘The rise of the robots’ and ‘productivity pessimism’ can’t both be right

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Talk of looming automation, AI and robots is pervasive in public policy chat – including in the government’s new industrial strategy. Almost as common are projections that the weak growth of the past decade is here to stay – including in the latest official economic outlook. Sometimes these assumptions are even mentioned in the same … Continued

What could the latest life expectancy projections mean for the State Pension Age?

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At the end of last week, the ONS published the latest future projections showing its best estimate of how long we can expect to live. We don’t automatically associate our living standards with factors like health or how many years of life we may have. But just like income, life expectancy is an important indicator … Continued

Britain’s skills record has hindered, not helped, our productivity drive. That needs to change

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Over the last week, we’ve heard a lot about the need to boost Britain’s productivity and how education and training can support that drive. First we had welcome new funding commitments in the Budget, then a strong skills focus in the Industrial Strategy White Paper and today we have a Skills Summit. Throughout, the Government … Continued

Torsten Bell

The Chancellor has coped with a huge economic downgrade, but the outlook is grim for families across Britain

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For his first Autumn Budget, the Office for Budget Responsibility has given Philip Hammond a truly catastrophic set of economic forecasts. After a decade of unrealised productivity forecasts, the OBR has now delivered the mother of all downgrades; all but halving its view of the UK’s capacity to grow. As a result it now expects … Continued

The Autumn Budget 2017 brings worse than hoped for news for the low paid

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or many people, the big news out of November’s Budget – a massive downgrade in the outlook for productivity growth – will sound a bit abstract. The productivity downgrade has made the Chancellor’s task of balancing the books harder. But its impact on pay – with average annual earnings lowered by £1,000 – mean it’s even … Continued

Will building more homes help to reduce housing costs?

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As part of the Foundation’s ongoing housing work, leading economist and Intergenerational Commission member Kate Barker and Housing market analyst Neal Hudson write about the impact that boosting housing supply could have on prices and wider housing costs.   Since the mid-2000s the dominant narrative about housing in the UK has been around a shortage … Continued

Torsten Bell

It’s time to stop feeling sorry for the Chancellor – there’s no excuse for a do nothing Budget

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It’s all the rage to feel sorry for Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. Philip Hammond is an unlucky man we’re told, having to prepare a Budget against a backdrop of a weaker economy, worse public finances and pressure to relaunch a government that’s had a tough Autumn. Those pressures are real, and no-one’s doubting that … Continued

We need to put the changing world of work back in the spotlight

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Angst over diminishing attention spans is widespread these days, with the reaction to Twitter’s expansion to 280 characters a case in point. That’s long been true in politics: even the most important of issues need a regular drumbeat to maintain public interest. And it certainly applies to the problems highlighted by the Taylor Review of … Continued

Matthew Whittaker

Hammond’s goal in this Budget should be to restart the productivity engine

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As a nation, we’re working smarter than we used to. A decade ago, for every hour we worked, we produced about £31.30 of stuff; today each hour of graft generates £31.85 of output. That sounds like good news. If we’re becoming more productive we should be able to treat ourselves to a pay rise, or … Continued

Torsten Bell

All gain, no pain? – the Chancellor’s cunning tax plan

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British politics is odd these days. But even by current standards something very unusual looks set to happen in next week’s Budget. A basic rule of British politics is that tax rises tend to happen soon after a general election, with the Chancellor betting that we’ll all have forgotten about them when the next election … Continued

How Philip Hammond can strike a blow for intergenerational fairness in his Budget

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With the dust beginning to settle on a scandal-focused fortnight in Westminster politics, attention is turning back to the big event looming on the horizon – Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Budget in 12 days’ time. The backdrop looks challenging, with the Chancellor having to deal with the headache of a likely downgrade to the economic … Continued

Torsten Bell

Strictly Come Building: How housing can make a star turn in the upcoming Budget

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Lowering expectations ahead of a Budget always helps a Chancellor. And when it comes to expectations of Cabinet members, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel have definitely been in the lowering business. But others have made the Chancellor’s task harder rather than easier. Robert Chote, the chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility, is set to … Continued

Torsten Bell
Pay

It’s all about the wages, stupid

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Yesterday’s good news: the reason the Bank of England increased interest rates is because it thinks the growth in your pay packet is about to start picking up. The bad news: it doesn’t think they’re going to pick up very far because we’re just not very good as a country at improving how we produce … Continued

Helping or hindering? The latest on Help to Buy

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When Sajid Javid announced last month that the government would allocate a new tranche of money to the Help to Buy (HTB) programme he claimed that this would enable “people to make their dream of owning a home a reality”. But is this expensive policy really doing ‘people’ any favours? When HTB was introduced in … Continued

Torsten Bell

The rate rise debate should prompt wider questions about the living standards impact of monetary policy

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Tomorrow the Bank of England is expected to raise interest rates for the first time in a decade, kicking off the first tightening cycle for monetary policy in 14 years. Whether or not the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee behaves as markets anticipate, the expectation has triggered two big questions. First there is the macro question … Continued

The national living wage has caused the biggest fall in low pay in 40 years – but how is this improving people’s living standards?

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Employment is at a 40-year high, while pay is stagnating. That, in brief, sums up the last few years of changes in Britain’s labour market. As Figure 1 shows, politicians rightly highlight that employment and unemployment are undeniably trending in the right direction. But the good news on employment has failed drastically to translate into … Continued

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