Living standards
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Inequality & poverty
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Social mobility

To understand inequality, we need to understand its intersections too

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Inequality has been moving up the political agenda in recent years. Public concern about the issue is at record levels. Politicians across the spectrum – from Theresa May’s emphasis on the ‘burning injustice’ faced by many in modern Britain, to Jeremy Corbyn’s lamentation of the ‘grotesque inequality’ that characterises the UK and other rich countries … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Budgets & fiscal events
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Public spending
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Economy and public finances

Hitting the books: student loans and the public finances

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With everything that’s going on in British politics right now, it’s easy to forget that the government was celebrating some seriously good news just seven weeks ago. You might remember that the Chancellor got handed a £74 billion fiscal windfall at the Budget that allowed him to deliver the long-promised extra spending on the NHS … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Budgets & fiscal events
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Public spending
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Economy and public finances
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Tax

Is there enough fuel in the fiscal tank for another duty freeze?

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After eight years of freezes, it had started to look like successive governments’ cancellation of the annual RPI-linked uprating of fuel duty had run out of road. After all, it’s already costing the government around £9 billion a year, and that cost will grow with each passing year. But we now know that the Chancellor … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Budgets & fiscal events
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Public spending
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Economy and public finances

Five charts to chill the Chancellor’s blood ahead of the Budget

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We now know that this year’s Budget will be delivered on 29 October, making it the first Monday Budget since 1962. The traditional Wednesday has been avoided, we’re told, to side-step negative Halloween-based headlines. Yet there’s still plenty of scary stuff for the Chancellor to deal with – from finding the £20 billion needed to … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Living standards
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Inequality & poverty
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Brexit & trade
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Economic growth

Dis-United Kingdom? Inequality, growth and the Brexit divide

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Much has changed in Britain since the EU referendum, but in many ways the divide that opened up around the vote feels as cavernous today as it was on the morning after the night before. That owes much to the inevitably divisive nature of a binary in/out referendum of course, but many commentators point also … Continued

Matthew Whittaker

Now’s not the time for auto-pilot

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Straightforward policy successes are a rare achievement in government and need celebrating when they arrive, lest we forget that policy matters. The recent sizeable gains the UK has made on private pension saving as a result of the introduction of auto-enrolment are therefore a clear cause for cheer. But challenges remain, starting with the increase … Continued

Matthew Whittaker

Time for some housing honesty

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The return to work after Christmas is never easy. Unless you’re an estate agent: they love January. Following the pre-Christmas lull, families rush back into wanting to buy and sell their houses (helped in part by the traditional post-festivity spike in family breakdown). But for an increasing number of us, house hunting is becoming little … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Budgets & fiscal events
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Productivity & industrial strategy
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Economy and public finances

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

Matthew Whittaker
Productivity & industrial strategy
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Economy and public finances
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Economic growth

The living standards cost of the OBR’s newfound productivity pessimism

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Rumours of attempts within the Cabinet to remove Philip Hammond may or may not be wide of the mark. But given the recent steady flow of disappointing economic data, the Chancellor could be forgiven for wanting to walk before he’s pushed. Last week’s PMI data and today’s short-term indicators from the ONS both suggested that … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Living standards
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Prices & consumption
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Inequality & poverty
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Welfare

The living standards issue that’s bigger than Brexit for lower income households

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Love it or loathe it, the long shadow of Brexit is set to dominate our political weather for some considerable time to come. With good reason of course. The long-term impact remains uncertain, but we can be sure it will be significant. And in the near-term, there’s no denying that the referendum result is at … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Living standards
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Brexit & trade
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Political parties and elections

How important was Brexit in the so-called ‘Brexit election’?

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Anyone who channel-hopped their way through Thursday night’s election coverage will have noticed two things. First, pundits are very good at recycling and refining their reactions as they work their way around the various studios. And second, different channels established different, but seemingly equally plausible, narratives about just what on earth was happening. But one … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Living standards
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Incomes
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Inequality & poverty
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Cities and regions

When it comes to living standards, geography matters

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A slowdown in economic growth and the recent return of the pay squeeze has focused attention once again on the extent to which absolute living standard improvements have stalled across UK households since the financial crisis of 2008. But the distribution of gains and losses matters too – especially in the context of a vote … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Household debt
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Wealth & assets

Time for a re-rewind on debt?

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Just like Craig David, debt made something of a comeback in 2016. Having peaked at 160 per cent on the eve of the 2008 financial crisis, household debt as a share of income fell to 140 per cent by the end of 2015. Successive increases in the first three quarters of 2016 took the ratio … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Living standards
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Prices & consumption

2016 was a good year for living standards – but families didn’t splash out

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Today’s annual Family Spending release contains the usual wealth of useful information on household spending patterns. It shows that overall spending was largely unchanged in 2015-16 (at £529 a week) relative to the previous year, once inflation is accounted for. Indeed, having fallen slightly from 2006 and then increased gently after 2012, average household spending is little … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Living standards
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Incomes
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Prices & consumption
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Economy and public finances

Theresa May needs to spread the jam more thickly

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Since taking office in July, Theresa May has made it clear that she wants to put the ‘just about managing’ – those working families struggling to get by – at the heart of her government’s agenda. Yet Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, which provided the first opportunity for setting out a package of support, proved less jam-packed … Continued

Matthew Whittaker
Budgets & fiscal events
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Public spending
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Economy and public finances

Resolution Foundation reaction to Autumn Statement 2016

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£59bn impact of Brexit and Chancellor’s decision to increase investment spending drive £122bn extra borrowing Philip Hammond chooses not to support just about managing families who face a double whammy of lower earnings and benefit cuts Slower growth and higher inflation will mean higher borrowing and a parliament of falling living standards for millions – … Continued

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