Living standards
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Prices & consumption
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Brexit & trade
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Tax

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

Living standards
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Universal Credit
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Childcare
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Scotland
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Welfare

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

Living standards
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Childcare
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Welfare

CB40: Happy 40th birthday to child benefit! But will it last another twenty?

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Yesterday, the minimum wage celebrated its 20th birthday. Today, child benefit is having a 40th birthday bash. But, as this analysis shows, it’s become a somewhat modest affair, with (record) low generosity, fewer people invited than in earlier years, and particularly complicated arrangements. So today is a good time to step back and take stock … Continued

Torsten Bell
Budgets & fiscal events
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Public spending
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Inequality & poverty
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Economy and public finances

Is rising inequality helping to swell the coffers for Fortunate Phil?

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Fortunate Phil is not what the Chancellor generally gets called. But as he prepares for tomorrow’s Spring Statement, Philip Hammond – despite facing what looks like headline bad news – has at least some reasons to be grateful for good luck on both the economic and political fronts. The Treasury is gearing up for the … Continued

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

Torsten Bell

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

Living standards
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Prices & consumption

Five key takeaways on UK household spending

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Yesterday the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its annual rundown of what UK households spend their money on. Quite a bit of the ONS’s analysis focused on who spends most on takeaways. But given household consumption is perhaps the most detailed and direct window on current living standards, there’s plenty more of interest in … Continued

Labour market
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Pay
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Inequality & poverty

The £3.2bn pay penalty facing black and ethnic minority workers

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It’s that time of the year when everyone does their reviews of 2018. The political review of the year will inevitably be dominated by the thrills and spills of Brexit. But for those interested in public policy, a strong contender for the Resolution Foundation’s ‘policy that could make a big difference to people’s living standards’ … Continued

Nye Cominetti
Labour market
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Quality and security
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Housing
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Wellbeing
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Time use
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Intergenerational Centre

All aboard the Millennial Express – longer commutes for less pay

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The ONS serve to uplift and depress analysts like me in equal measure. And today they served up the latter, with new figures showing that the number of people commuting for more than an hour to get into work has increased by almost a third (31 per cent) since 2011. Longer commutes are good news … Continued

Living standards
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Labour market
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Pay
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Inequality & poverty

The gender pay gap is at an all-time low – but beyond the headlines, things aren’t so rosy

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‘The UK’s gender pay gap has reached a record low of 8.6 per cent for full-time employees,’ read today’s headlines. This is certainly true, on the whole. But averages inevitably mask a wealth of compositional effects which show that large gains for some unwittingly offset not-so-large gains for others, as well as some not-quite-so-rosy trends … Continued

Wage growth, low pay and falling hours: breaking down this year’s ASHE figures

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For labour market wonks, ‘ASHE day’ is like your birthday and Christmas rolled into one. Each year around this time, the ONS publishes a plethora of spreadsheets packed to the brim with data on how wages have performed over the last year. While there are definitely some pleasant surprises in this year’s figures, there are … Continued

Inequality & poverty
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Wealth & assets
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Cities and regions

Regional wealth inequality: a nation divided

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On Monday, families across the country will be feeling a mix of excitement, anxiety and relief as kids go back to school (with Scotland having already gone through it). Experiences that unite every corner of the UK feel rarer these days, with talk of division and left-behind places common. Differences between South Shields and South … Continued

Incomes
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Prices & consumption

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

Living standards
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Productivity & industrial strategy
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Cities and regions

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
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

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