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

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

As growth slows UK households have already taken a £1,500 living standards hit since the referendum

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Today we learnt that economic growth slowed significantly at the end of 2018, with GDP only growing by 0.2 per cent in the last three months of the year. This is around a third of the pre-crisis average rate. In December alone, the economy contracted by 0.4 per cent with the manufacturing sector now having … Continued

Guest blog: When the ONS changes its mind, economic policy and political reputation are on the line

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In these ‘post-expert’ times, it’s worth remembering that good policy rests on good evidence. Our fiscal and monetary institutions don’t just set policy with reference to economic theory, but in relation to what’s going on in the economy. So – as we heard earlier this week – when history gets re-written in a way that … Continued

Hey big spender!

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Todays’ annual Family Spending release contains the usual treasure trove of information on what UK households spent their money on last year. Households spent a lot. Average weekly spending rose (after adjusting for inflation) by 4 per cent from £533 to £554 between 2015-16 and 2016-17 – the sharpest increase for well over a decade … Continued

Did raising tuition fees flatter measurements of young people’s incomes?

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The government has announced that the maximum annual tuition fee will be frozen at £9,250; and that the earnings threshold for repayment will jump from £21,000 to £25,000. What’s more, there will be a wide review of student finances to “look again” at this turbulent political issue. While they’re doing that, government statisticians should look … Continued

Vast gaps in living standards between ethnic groups persist — and recent progress could yet be undone

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We talk a lot about certain types of income inequality—the recent outcry over unequal pay at the BBC springs to mind—but the specifics of ethnic economic inequalities rarely get enough air time. Though only scratching the surface of such a complex topic, my recent Resolution Foundation briefing on the gaps in household incomes for different ethnicities sought … Continued

Despite the economic gloom, living standards for BAME groups are finally catching up

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Good news is undervalued. Partly because it doesn’t make as good headlines and partly because there hasn’t been much of it around after a fairly grim decade since the financial crisis. So here’s some: since the turn of the millennium living standards gaps between different ethnic groups have been narrowing in Britain. Since 2002 White … Continued

Matthew Whittaker

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

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