Energy prices: Why now is the time to act to help millions of families facing fuel bill catastrophe

A benefits boost and insulation drive are needed

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The first day of April saw the largest overnight jump in energy bills in living memory, pushing up the cost of gas and electricity for 22 million families by more than 50 per cent. Despite this not having sunk in yet – households are only one bill into this new reality at most – we … Continued

The cost of living crisis is going to hurt

To tackle it, we will also need to address the stagnation which has bedevilled the UK economy for years

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Britain is at last stepping out of the pandemic that has dominated the last two years – only to step straight into a huge cost of living crisis that will be the defining economic feature of what remains of this parliament. The lives of those at risk from the unfolding nightmare in Ukraine are our … Continued

Inflation will hit low and middle-income families hardest

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This year is not being kind to the reputation of Britain’s institutions. Two months in, the police are already questioning the country’s elected — and unelected — leaders. But the cost-of-living catastrophe that will dominate 2022 will turn the heat on to our economic institutions. They are unlikely to emerge unscathed. Prices rose 5.5 per … Continued

Levelling-up: The Blair-Osborne Project

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There have been many attempts in the past to reduce the gaps between richer and poorer parts of the UK. But despite progress on some measures (most notably employment and pay), geographic disparities remain substantial and stubborn, particularly when it comes to productivity. The gap in typical pay between Kensington and Chelsea and Scarborough has … Continued

Spiralling energy prices will turn the UK’s cost-of-living crisis into a catastrophe

A £300 one-off payment to millions of low-income households is the minimum needed to mitigate rising bill

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A cost of living catastrophe is what British families are facing in early 2022. The government has been understandably focused on Omicron but has woken up to this crisis, and is now discussing policy action to address it. But there is no magic bullet. What’s worse, this comes on the back of a decade of … Continued

Pre-pandemic Britain experienced a mini living standards boom – alongside rising child poverty

New data show stronger growth in household incomes leading up to the Covid-19 crisis, but we need to look over a longer period for a more accurate impression

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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) today published statistics on household incomes and poverty covering  2019-20. Because producing these estimates is a time-consuming process – both for the households who are surveyed and the statisticians processing the data into interesting statistics – the results are already a year out of date, and tell us … Continued

The Chancellor has prevented a grim winter of redundancies – but has failed to fix the faults with his jobs support package

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On Thursday, Rishi Sunak announced that the Job Retention Scheme – where employees can be put on furlough and still get 80 per cent of their wages covered by the government – will continue to the end of March. Self-employed workers can get another three-month grant of 80 per cent of their pre-crisis profits. There … Continued

The current consumption crisis will be important for the future jobs market recovery

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Britain’s jobs crisis is concentrated in low-paying sectors like hospitality, retail, arts and leisure that have been hardest hit by lockdown and ongoing social distancing measures. In 2019, 32 per cent of 18-29-year-old employees worked in these sectors. But those who tend to spend the greatest proportion of their disposable income on these more pleasurable … Continued

The Child Trust Fund comes of age

It presents a unique opportunity to learn about the difference that asset ownership can make

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With little fanfare the UK is about to witness a mass experiment in the extension of access to capital. Other nations may have sovereign wealth funds, and some have experimented with universal basic incomes, but the UK is the first to create a citizen’s endowment for all young adults. From next week those turning eighteen … Continued

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

Would a richer decade have meant a happier one?

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Consider the good fortune of a country far richer than the UK. Its economy is over £300bn bigger and its workers are almost a quarter more productive than Britain’s, enjoying wages that are typically £7k higher. Households are flush enough to spend thousands more on consumption, just as public services are far better resourced. This … 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

The child poverty crisis needs pushing up the agenda in Britain’s ‘Brexit’ election

None of the main party manifestos will end child poverty

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Both the main parties have learnt lessons from the 2017 election. The Conservatives have learnt not to scare the horses with big new policies. Their 2019 manifesto is very much a ‘safety-first’ document. Labour learnt that they have a problem with pensioners – 70-year olds are twice as likely to vote Tory as Labour – … Continued

A good year for pay?

Five things we learned from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2019

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This morning the ONS published the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) for 2019 – the most detailed data on employee pay available, telling us about high and low pay, the gender pay gap, and more besides. As a think-tank focusing on raising living standards, this is pretty crucial data for us, and for … Continued

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

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

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