Pandemic parties, striking students and democratic deals

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Afternoon all, You know what the police need? Some economists. The Met have apparently spent £460,000 on their partygate investigation (to bring in fines of £12,600) – god knows how, given the British press did the evidence gathering for them. How much can it cost to show a suspect the front page of the Mirror … Continued

Avoiding tax and confronting Government IT

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Afternoon all, The only people having a more expensive week than Downing Street staff are crypto investors – commiserations if you’re in either camp. The crypto crash is at least a reminder that it’s best to avoid ponzi schemes largely unregulated high-risk products. On reflection, avoiding people selling high-risk products in politics isn’t a bad rule of thumb either … Continued

Probing prices, dodging divorces and misogynistic men

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Afternoon all, Temperatures are on the up. So are interest rates. 2022 is all about monetary policy climate change sweeping advanced economies, with the Bank of England’s fourth hike in a row yesterday taking us to the heady heights of 1 per cent. I know we’re all desensitised to high inflation chat, but if their … Continued

Health expectancy, home economics and how surnames help with success

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Afternoon all, I’ve been across the Atlantic this week, but it’s been good to see you’ve all been trying really hard to maintain Britain’s reputation while I’m away. Explaining our porn-perusing politicians, or the fact our Social Mobility Commission chair (who obviously hasn’t met the Resolution team…) thinks girls can’t do “hard maths”, to Americans has … Continued

Good grades, bad news anchors and ugly urban motorways

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Afternoon all, Hope everyone had a decent Easter break. I’m a massive fan of this whole sun shining thing: Britain’s a good place to live. Unfortunately, our politics and economy haven’t quite got the Briton rocks message. The Queen’s 96th Birthday should have been a good time to celebrate ideas of public service and duty, … Continued

Non-dom data and flimsy forecasts

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Afternoon all, Yesterday the Government announced plans for eight new nuclear power stations. In the olden days this was big news; now it’s already off the bulletins. The news that’s actually gone nuclear is of course the Chancellor’s wife being a non-dom. That choice seems like madness from a political perspective – there are so few … Continued

Beating the French in the Minimum Wage World Cup

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Afternoon all,   All April Fools gags are rubbish, but today’s combination of temperatures plummeting as energy bills surge might be the worst yet. A new Resolution Foundation note shows the number of households in fuel stress (spending at least 10 per cent of their budgets on energy) will double to five million as a … Continued

Top of the Charts: Spring Statement special

Afternoon all, The (selfish) good news is that I’m ending this week Covid-free. The (rather more important) bad news is the Spring Statement, which goes in the ‘not fit for purpose’ bucket. Chunks of Government seem surprised by the universal kicking it’s had – spending over £10 billion on tax cuts usually buys you at … Continued

More hours and fewer doughnuts in modern Britain

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Morning all, Things are on the up, in the inflation, interest rates and Covid cases sense, making the lives of policy makers (not to mention actual people) a nightmare. It’s the central bankers turn this week. The Bank of England flipped from worrying about the recovery in the autumn to anxiety about surging inflation in … Continued

Smokers’ bonuses and the Italianification of UK millennials

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Afternoon all, Too much choice is a dangerous thing. Normally that doesn’t matter – I can get over being overwhelmed by browsing Netflix. But excessive choice over what to worry about in 2022 is a big problem – preventing policy makers concentrating on any given problem, or judging the relative importance of the tsunami of … Continued

Pandemic lessons on when to work, retire and pay the mortgage

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Morning all, The lives being lost, homes being destroyed and nightmare being lived in Ukraine are dominating all our thoughts. Even when the TV/radio is off it’s hard to think about anything else. And rightly so given how immediate and existential the dangers are. The implications for UK households are tiny in comparison, but substantial … Continued

Productivity lessons from California and Constable’s England

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Afternoon all, The idea that 2022 was going to offer a world, emerging from the pandemic, relief from dark times has not aged well. This week has been unremittingly grim. The violence Ukrainians have had to live with for eight years has sharply grown in breadth and depth, while our words, tears and sanctions are … Continued

Lower rents, fewer babies and absent asparagus

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Afternoon all, It’s always nice to wake up to government advice not to leave your home. It’s like the good old lockdown days, with a major productivity shock thrown in for good measure (the kids came back from Yorkshire a day early yesterday). At least it’s some light relief from Britain’s leading institutions getting themselves … Continued

Dodgy deals in 21st century Westminster, and the 17th century Square Mile

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Afternoon all, We need a bit less Groundhog Day in our news this February with the endless discussions of whether Putin will/won’t invade Ukraine, or Tory MPs fancy bringing down the PM. Obviously the two are very different – sending in letters ≠ sending in tanks. But in both cases the aggressors are demanding things … Continued

Pandemic pensions and victorious vaccines

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Morning all, This week’s TOTCs comes from a snow pattered Glencoe where never-ending gales are the order of the day. The battering you get walking on the hills is a rather unsubtle symbol of what 2022 has in store for household finances. Prices up, bills up, interest rates up and taxes up is where we … Continued

Ancient whips, merry movers and a cost of cake crisis

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Afternoon all, It’s basically impossible to keep up these days. If you still know which party was which you’ve got your specialist subject sorted for a serious Mastermind run. Meanwhile British politics, maybe worried its self-respect was in danger of recovering, is now debating whether or not a cake was in attendance. Which maybe explains why … Continued

Social Security special

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Afternoon all, Slightly different plan with this week’s TOTCs – research/blogs/light relief are out, a long read on the UK’s social security system is in. Since politics and policy making are on hold while we wait for the messiah Sue Gray’s report, it’s a good time to step back from the immediate policy debates.Instead the goal is to … Continued

Our obsession with liberty, rules and dodgy dinner

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Morning all, Remember when people saying there were too many parties in Westminster were just moaning about Change UK? Oh for those happier, innocent times, when a socially awkward dinner in Nando’s was the problem rather than the total absence of social distancing in Downing Street. The whole booze being ferried from the Strand in … Continued

Cuts to car rides, energy bills and school bullies

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Afternoon all, The cost of living has moved centre stage this week – as we noted last week the living standards catastrophe coming in three months’ time means the government stepping in is inevitable. Attention is partly being driven by politics waking up to what’s going on (good), aided by people getting (oddly) relaxed about … Continued

The Year of the Squeeze

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Morning all, Hope you had a great Christmas and happy (slightly premature) New Year. If Omicron has put paid to your plans for tonight, comfort yourself in the knowledge that, according to highly detailed research (my own of living through them), New Year’s Eve is the most overrated/overpriced night of the year. And the pennies … Continued

Small pond benefits and big data perils

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Afternoon all, The only thing going up faster than Lib Dem votes in Shropshire is Omicron cases. All the chat is about whether the latter means HMT will need to announce more support (they will) and the former means Boris Johnson is doomed (so claim the very same people confidently predicting he’d got 10 more … Continued

Winning work, losing rights and confusing Christmases

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Afternoon all, I’m only just keeping up with the omniscandals this week. It seems to involve a baby being born, a Christmas party and a rich bloke bringing gifts (it’s unclear if Frankincense was thrown in with the posh wallpaper). This is about as close to a nativity play as I’m getting this year (the … Continued

Low-heat bricks and low-growth BRICs

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Morning all, You’ve got to feel a little sorry for the government. They basically thought the battle was won, then along comes the enemy with many more major changes than we’ve seen in previous rounds of reinvention. It’s not clear how much more dangerous it is, but it certainly looks like it’ll pose a more … Continued

Sprucing up our exports, FE colleges, and council logos

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Afternoon all, I’m torn about this week’s Peppa Piggate CBI speech meltdown. At one level, having just got going again on in-person talks, the Prime Minister has considerably raised my performance anxiety. But, on the other hand, he’s massively raised the bar for what an actual fiasco looks like. So maybe gratitude is the right … Continued

Happy hobbies and monetising your marriage

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Morning all, This week’s TOTCs comes from that long neglected and left behind corner of England: Tunbridge Wells. More accurately it comes from a very small cliff nearby.  Despite all my campaigning there has been zero topographical levelling up so this is as good as it gets rock climbing-wise in the South East. On the … Continued

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