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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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