After Brexit the UK could cut VAT on energy – but should it?

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During the EU referendum, one of Vote Leave’s promises was that “fuel bills will be lower for everyone”. Specifically, Boris Johnson and others argued that: “In 1993, VAT on household energy bills was imposed. This makes gas and electricity much more expensive. EU rules mean we cannot take VAT off those bills. The least wealthy … Continued

A welcome boost for ‘just about managing’ families in Scotland

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Yesterday started with a bleak assessment by the Child Poverty Action Group of the impact of ongoing welfare cuts – specifically how the two-child limit on support, which began to be implemented in 2017, is set to push 300,000 children into poverty. But there was better news for Scottish parents later in the day, as … Continued

Nye Cominetti

Two and a half reasons to be cheerful about our strong and stable labour market

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Today’s labour market statistics were, to use a technical term, boring. In a world of high political and economic drama, our labour market has served up headline measures of real pay growth and employment which basically haven’t changed for four months in a row. We shouldn’t bemoan unchanging numbers. Like air travel and digging tunnels, … Continued

Torsten Bell

Time to concentrate on our capitalism

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Our politicians are anxious. And not just because no-one has a decent poll lead or idea where Brexit will end up. No, some are finding the time to get anxious about other things too, including the state of capitalism in the UK. The angst isn’t limited to the left either, with Michael Gove becoming a … Continued

Poor productivity and high housing costs are driving a ‘living standards exodus’ from London

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As a Londoner it’s fair to say that as a city we’re quite good at giving ourselves a pat on the back (though apparently self-loathing Londoners are a thing too). It’s often suggested that London is an economic powerhouse, productive, innovative and leaving the rest of the country in its wake. However new research by … Continued

Matthew Whittaker

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

Introducing….Hamilton – The Industrial Strategy

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Today’s science speech by the Prime Minister shows how much she has in common with the great Alexander Hamilton – though she has not got her own musical yet. Hamilton’s great rival Jefferson had a picture of America as sturdy yeoman farmers enjoying their liberties under a minimalist Government. Hamilton instead saw the Federal Government … Continued

Britain’s labour market – the good (jobs), the bad (pay) and the ugly (productivity)

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This month’s labour market statistics gave us a classic mixed bag of results, with reasons to be cheerful on jobs, confused on pay, and downright depressed when it comes to Britain’s productivity record. Let’s start with the good news on jobs. Employment has hit another new high, with recent growth driven by full-time work – … Continued

Britain passes a major milestone on pay and breaks new ground on jobs – but there’s a productivity sting

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This morning UK labour market passed a few living standards milestones on pay and jobs with two good pieces of news, one expected and one a surprise. We also got a hint of more good news to come. But we also got one bit of bad news. Let’s start with the good. Today pay growth … Continued

Daniel Tomlinson

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” – UK generational trends in an international context

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Joni Mitchell’s lyrics may refer to her first trip to Hawaii, but they could just as easily apply to UK trends in generational living standards that the Resolution Foundation’s Intergenerational Commission has uncovered. That’s particularly so in light of new analysis comparing these trends internationally. While there are huge living standards differences between high-income countries, … 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

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

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

There’s much uncertainty about a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, but what we do know would be bad for living standards

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Big change, means big uncertainty. Especially when that big change is being brought to the complex beast that is a major developed country in the 21st Century. To complicate the task further, in the case of Brexit Britain while we know big change is coming, we don’t know what form that big change will actually … Continued

Matthew Whittaker

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

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