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

Boosting living standards through vaccines, side hustles and Mariah Carey

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Afternoon all, It’s been a pretty difficult week in Westminster. For MPs, there’s the whole being machine gunned by the press for their second jobs/squillions of £s/Caribbean office. But spare a thought for the rest of us: my self-esteem has been battered by the realisation that I’m the laziest worker in Westminster, with the time … Continued

It’s not the end of the world of the world as we know it

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Afternoon all,   Last week the Chancellor announced a lot more policy (largely spending) wise than was expected, but this week the Bank of England (rightly on balance) defied expectations in the other direction by doing less. What’s going on? There is a common thread of sorts between the two expectation-defying moves: talk is cheap. … Continued

Boris Budget Special

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Afternoon all, Happy the Budget is over Friday. As is customary, we celebrate with a TOTCs special on what on earth was going on. This one is penned amid half-term related crowd control on the West Sussex coast. The crowd control bit involves a mini-Spending Review every couple of hours to decide who gets which … Continued

Lorry driver doom and muted Marxism

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Afternoon all, I’m worried we Brits don’t know how to row properly anymore. Obviously we still love a debate – the volume is probably up if anything – but we seem to love rowing about the wrong things or at cross purposes. First, we had the PM-induced “are wage rises on the back of lower … Continued

Love in the time of furlough

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Afternoon all, Good to see the Treasury set out their latest big policy response to fast rising inflation this morning. Not tackling the supply shocks or protecting the incomes of poorer households, but doubling the contactless payment limit to £100. Rising prices might make you poorer but at least they won’t mean a surge in … Continued

Bojo goes Red Robbo

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Afternoon all, I was wrong. More accurately, Boris Johnson did the wrong thing. But I was wrong in thinking he wouldn’t press ahead with removing the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift. Although it feels like old news, it’s obviously very fresh for the 4.4 million families whose incomes fell by £1,000 overnight on Wednesday … Continued

A look into the future through prices, body cameras and off-street parking

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Afternoon all, Party conference season is back. Which is about as nice as waterboarding. The travelling circus of techy think tankers, jaded journalists and loaded lobbyists has survived Brighton (which is saying something given the weather). Labour’s jamboree taught us that the party does want to borrow loads for green investment but doesn’t want a £15 minimum wage … Continued

The long fight against globalisation, long hours and flipping burgers

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Afternoon all, Hope you’re all enjoying this week’s retro feel. Price surges and supply shocks have got everyone in the 70s vibe. And the only thing more retro than a Labour leader writing a long pamphlet is that loads of people appear to have actually read it. We’re getting into the historical mood with some TOTCs … Continued

Colleagues reunited

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Afternoon all, Well that was a smoothly executed reshuffle. From painful experience I promise you the baseline for these things is a mixture of excruciating social awkwardness and total chaos. It broadly happening to plan (bar a bit of Raab wrangling) is a triumph. The No10 operation will be satisfied with the job they’ve done, … Continued

Social Care Budget Special

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Afternoon all, There are busy weeks in economic policy making, and then there’s this week – with its tsunami of tax and spend announcements. We all knew big decisions were coming this autumn, but not that quite so many of them would get answered quite so quickly. Given all of that, and with the dust … Continued

Scientific cities and successful siestas

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Afternoon all, It sounds like we’re approaching D-Day with regards to the reform of social care funding in England. That’s really welcome given the sector has been putting out SOS calls for well over a decade and we’ve politely looked the other way. This won’t come cheap – decent care for an ageing population, with … Continued

Rubbish regulation, perfect procurement and long covid

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Afternoon all, The chicken’s off, milkshakes awol and abattoirs in meltdown. Luckily TOTCs has made it through this week’s supply chain disruptions unscathed. In fact, I wouldn’t mind some interrupted supply chains if that meant fewer interesting economics papers being published – would help in the quest to vaguely stay on top of what’s coming … Continued

Dodgy data, working workers and back to basics on benefits

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Afternoon all, Welcome back to TOTCs, and apologies again for abandoning you for the past fortnight. Then again, those two weeks haven’t really been about economics, as Afghanistan has surged from being totally ignored by UK politics to centre stage. As ever having policies but no plans can seem fine, until it’s suddenly not (an … Continued

Winning at life with Western Welsh walks and chocolate cookies

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Afternoon all, Our Olympics medal tally is up (rowers aside), case numbers are down and holidays are here – so happy days. Two weeks camping drowning in drizzle in the Lakes means TOTC will be taking the next fortnight off. If you could all keep the declining Covid thing going while I’m away that would … Continued

Dodgy politics, dangerous heat and declining vaccines

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Afternoon all, It’s been a bit of a manic week. It was only last Sunday that the PM was ‘piloting’ his way out of isolation in the morning, but locked back down by tea. On Monday night the Government was about to announce an infusion of badly needed cash into social care (a great idea) … Continued

Thirty years of Universal Credit hurt

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Morning all, I hope you’ve all calmed down from Wednesday and watching, what painful experience taught us was, an iron law of football being overcome. England, it turns out, do not always throw it away. And if Gareth Southgate manages to get a win on Sunday he’ll have overcome another iron law of the past … Continued

It’s coming home. And we’re going out.

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Afternoon all, It’s coming home. And we’re going out to watch it. It’s not clear what’s causing the bigger psychological shock to the English: finally beat Germans, or all the eye contact opening up has led to. What is clear is that all that beer facilitated cheering is very labour intensive. Furlough rates have fallen … Continued

Dinosaur dads and TikTok time wasters

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Afternoon all, Politics is dominated by staffer chat this week – Keir Starmer’s moving some of aides around and Matt Hancock’s… moving around with one of his own. This is all rather distracting us from the big picture: we’ve adopted a herd immunity strategy for the youth without anyone talking about it. Now I’ve absolutely … Continued

Great maps, green grass and giant job gaps

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Afternoon all, The people of Chesham have spoken. Turns out it’s harder to have a relationship with two people sets of voters at once than the Prime Minister has always hoped. Especially if you’re building a train line right through their back yard. Anyway, I’m looking forward to all the long reads explaining what’s going … Continued

Top of the Charts: Expanding grades and shrinking tax takes

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Morning all, Thanks for your patience while TOTCs wandered off last week. Having entirely ignored the news, returning to sausage wars headlines on Monday was an unwelcome surprise. They speak to a serious national decline. Not in terms of what it means for Global Britain’s G7 relaunch, but because it shows our once great press … Continued

Poor neighbourhoods, powerful firms and missing research on race

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Afternoon all, Heavily emotionally conflicted this week. On the plus side is the news that the sun does in fact exist. But the combination of self-isolating after a Covid contact (tests all negative fear not) and Dominic Cummings’ omni-dumping on the Government inevitably drags you back to the traumas of last year – before the … Continued

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