Sprucing up our exports, FE colleges, and council logos

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Afternoon all, I’m torn about this week’s Peppa Piggate CBI speech meltdown. At one level, having just got going again on in-person talks, the Prime Minister has considerably raised my performance anxiety. But, on the other hand, he’s massively raised the bar for what an actual fiasco looks like. So maybe gratitude is the right … Continued

Happy hobbies and monetising your marriage

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Morning all, This week’s TOTCs comes from that long neglected and left behind corner of England: Tunbridge Wells. More accurately it comes from a very small cliff nearby.  Despite all my campaigning there has been zero topographical levelling up so this is as good as it gets rock climbing-wise in the South East. On the … Continued

Boosting living standards through vaccines, side hustles and Mariah Carey

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Afternoon all, It’s been a pretty difficult week in Westminster. For MPs, there’s the whole being machine gunned by the press for their second jobs/squillions of £s/Caribbean office. But spare a thought for the rest of us: my self-esteem has been battered by the realisation that I’m the laziest worker in Westminster, with the time … Continued

It’s not the end of the world of the world as we know it

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Afternoon all,   Last week the Chancellor announced a lot more policy (largely spending) wise than was expected, but this week the Bank of England (rightly on balance) defied expectations in the other direction by doing less. What’s going on? There is a common thread of sorts between the two expectation-defying moves: talk is cheap. … Continued

There is no simple story of migrants down, wages up

The UK needs a post-Brexit, post-Covid economic strategy, not another argument about immigration

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We ask a lot of migrants. They make up almost one-in-five of our workforce, run many of our biggest businesses, and disproportionately clean our homes, care for our sick, and carry ever-growing online purchases to our doors. If that wasn’t enough, we’re now asking them to solve a rather big problem: the UK’s absence of … Continued

Boris Budget Special

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Afternoon all, Happy the Budget is over Friday. As is customary, we celebrate with a TOTCs special on what on earth was going on. This one is penned amid half-term related crowd control on the West Sussex coast. The crowd control bit involves a mini-Spending Review every couple of hours to decide who gets which … Continued

Lorry driver doom and muted Marxism

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Afternoon all, I’m worried we Brits don’t know how to row properly anymore. Obviously we still love a debate – the volume is probably up if anything – but we seem to love rowing about the wrong things or at cross purposes. First, we had the PM-induced “are wage rises on the back of lower … Continued

Love in the time of furlough

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Afternoon all, Good to see the Treasury set out their latest big policy response to fast rising inflation this morning. Not tackling the supply shocks or protecting the incomes of poorer households, but doubling the contactless payment limit to £100. Rising prices might make you poorer but at least they won’t mean a surge in … Continued

Bojo goes Red Robbo

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Afternoon all, I was wrong. More accurately, Boris Johnson did the wrong thing. But I was wrong in thinking he wouldn’t press ahead with removing the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift. Although it feels like old news, it’s obviously very fresh for the 4.4 million families whose incomes fell by £1,000 overnight on Wednesday … Continued

Boris Johnson is wrong to downplay the impact on families from the Universal Credit cut

Rising inflation and surging energy bills come as the government takes £20 a week off families in the Universal Credit cut

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Today was a big deal for Boris Johnson who delivered his speech to the Conservative Party Conference. But it’s an even bigger day for low-and-middle income households across Britain, for all the wrong reasons. As the PM stepped up onto stage, their income took a step down with Universal Credit cut by £20 a week. … Continued

A look into the future through prices, body cameras and off-street parking

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Afternoon all, Party conference season is back. Which is about as nice as waterboarding. The travelling circus of techy think tankers, jaded journalists and loaded lobbyists has survived Brighton (which is saying something given the weather). Labour’s jamboree taught us that the party does want to borrow loads for green investment but doesn’t want a £15 minimum wage … Continued

The long fight against globalisation, long hours and flipping burgers

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Afternoon all, Hope you’re all enjoying this week’s retro feel. Price surges and supply shocks have got everyone in the 70s vibe. And the only thing more retro than a Labour leader writing a long pamphlet is that loads of people appear to have actually read it. We’re getting into the historical mood with some TOTCs … Continued

Colleagues reunited

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Afternoon all, Well that was a smoothly executed reshuffle. From painful experience I promise you the baseline for these things is a mixture of excruciating social awkwardness and total chaos. It broadly happening to plan (bar a bit of Raab wrangling) is a triumph. The No10 operation will be satisfied with the job they’ve done, … Continued

Social Care Budget Special

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Afternoon all, There are busy weeks in economic policy making, and then there’s this week – with its tsunami of tax and spend announcements. We all knew big decisions were coming this autumn, but not that quite so many of them would get answered quite so quickly. Given all of that, and with the dust … Continued

Scientific cities and successful siestas

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Afternoon all, It sounds like we’re approaching D-Day with regards to the reform of social care funding in England. That’s really welcome given the sector has been putting out SOS calls for well over a decade and we’ve politely looked the other way. This won’t come cheap – decent care for an ageing population, with … Continued

Covid could still make a mockery of the best-laid economic plans

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The last 18 months haven’t been normal. You’ll have noticed. But while it’s blindingly obvious in our personal lives, we’ve struggled to recognise it when thinking about the economy. All downturns are different, from their causes to their depths. This is a challenge for policy makers prone to looking back to previous recessions for clues … Continued

Buckle up – milkshake droughts are just the start

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We’re not used to modern capitalism being a mess. For something so incredibly complex, it runs incredibly smoothly in normal times. Even those of us who don’t like many of its outcomes, for inequality or the environment, can marvel at how quickly a huge variety of goods and services are available to us almost instantaneously. … Continued

Rubbish regulation, perfect procurement and long covid

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Afternoon all, The chicken’s off, milkshakes awol and abattoirs in meltdown. Luckily TOTCs has made it through this week’s supply chain disruptions unscathed. In fact, I wouldn’t mind some interrupted supply chains if that meant fewer interesting economics papers being published – would help in the quest to vaguely stay on top of what’s coming … Continued

Dodgy data, working workers and back to basics on benefits

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Afternoon all, Welcome back to TOTCs, and apologies again for abandoning you for the past fortnight. Then again, those two weeks haven’t really been about economics, as Afghanistan has surged from being totally ignored by UK politics to centre stage. As ever having policies but no plans can seem fine, until it’s suddenly not (an … Continued

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