Trading standards

How exposure to global trade shapes our living standards

Monday 19 February 2024

Britain is an open economy, and has become more open over recent decades – despite the impact of Brexit and ‘slowbalisation’. But the quantity and type of goods and services we trade isn’t the only thing that has shifted. So has what we consume and where we work. All of these shifts affect our exposure … Continued

Saving for today. And tomorrow.

How to boost households financial resilience now, and living standards in retirement

Monday 12 February 2024

British households aren’t saving enough. Pensions auto-enrolment has got far more of us saving for retirement, but too many of us are not on track for a comfortable old age. More immediately, too few of us have access to rainy-day pots to help us through an unexpected shock. Traditional approaches to encourage people to build … Continued

Living standards
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Economy and public finances
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Political parties and elections

Turning a corner?

The political and economic outlook for a critical election year

Monday 8 January 2024

The worst of the cost of living crisis appears to be behind us, with inflation more than halving since its peak. But 2024 may not be plain sailing economically, and it certainly won’t be politically with an election in store. While wages are at last growing faster than prices, economic growth has flatlined while taxes, … Continued

Rising rents and rebounding wages

Where is Britain’s cost-of-living crisis heading?

Thursday 14 December 2023

Inflation is down, but Britain’s cost-of-living crisis is still very much with us. The legacy of previous price rises for energy and food are now combining with a new pressure: housing. Private rents are rising at their fastest rate in over a decade, while the impact of higher interest rates is still feeding through into … Continued

Ending Stagnation

A New Economic Strategy for Britain

Monday 4 December 2023

The final report of The Economy 2030 Inquiry The UK has great strengths, but is a decade and a half into a period of stagnation. The combination of slow growth and high inequality is proving toxic for low- and middle-income Britain. The result is a country falling behind its peers, where taxes, rather than wages, … Continued

Perma-crisis people

The divergent economic prospects between generations

Monday 13 November 2023

Advanced economies across the globe have experienced a series of unprecedented economic shocks since the start of the century. But they have not affected all generations equally. The disproportionate impact on the financial wellbeing of younger people has sparked concerns about generational fairness on both sides of the Atlantic. Fifteen years on from the global … Continued

Enlightened economics

Lessons from Adam Smith on the economic challenges facing modern Britain

Wednesday 13 September 2023

Adam Smith was a leading political economy thinker of the Scottish enlightenment in the mid-late 18th century. But as the “Father of Capitalism” his pioneering work on free market economics has influenced politicians, philosophers and economists throughout the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries too. But modern Britain – as well as other advanced economies – … Continued

Living standards
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Inequality & poverty
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Political parties and elections

A living standards election?

What the year ahead could mean for family - and political - fortunes

Wednesday 6 September 2023

The cost of living crisis has not only dragged on longer than anyone hoped, it has evolved. As the focus has moved from energy bills to food prices, alongside rising rent and mortgage costs, the impact on different groups has changed. It will change further in the run in to a 2024 general election, with … Continued

Shared prosperity

What would it take to see a return to rising living standards for all?

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Britain is stagnating. Productivity growth is flatlining, workers today are earning the same wages as their predecessors in 2007, and living standards growth had slowed to a crawl even before today’s cost of living crisis. So we need a clear strategy for returning to rising, and widely shared, prosperity. Against that backdrop, it is important … Continued

Still coping?

How families are faring as the cost-of-living crisis enters its second year

Thursday 27 April 2023

The UK’s cost-of-living crunch has entered its second year. While inflation should fall significantly in the coming months, the crisis is far from over. Prices are rising more slowly rather than falling. And the significant government support provided last year is being scaled back, while fast rising interest rates will affect more and more homeowners … Continued

New year, renewed squeeze?

The outlook for living standards in 2023 and beyond

Monday 9 January 2023

Britain’s cost-of-living crisis has been brutal this winter – even with significant government support – as bills rise and real wages fall. Inflation should ease in the year ahead, but government support is also being scaled back and rising interest rates will feed through into higher mortgage costs. The outlook is highly uncertain. How are … Continued

Mortgaged millennials to bitterly cold boomers

Assessing the cost of living crisis across generations

Monday 14 November 2022

Rising energy bills are with us and rising mortgage bills are on the way. While wages are falling far behind inflation, debates rage about whether benefits or the state pension should do the same. Older workers have not returned to the labour market post-Covid, while younger workers may suffer most from the unemployment rise the … Continued

What next?

The impact of Trussonomics, tax cuts and market turmoil

Thursday 29 September 2022

The last few days have seen a radical reshaping of the Government’s economic policy and a radical reaction from financial markets. Out have gone both Treasury orthodoxy and the legacy of the Johnson premiership, and in are lower taxes, higher borrowing – and higher borrowing costs as spooked markets respond. Will this new strategy boost … Continued

A bleak midwinter?

The cost-of-living crisis facing Britain and its new Prime Minister

Thursday 1 September 2022

Britain is in the midst of a painful cost-of-living squeeze, with double digit inflation prompting the biggest fall in real wages since the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. And the crisis will get far worse in the coming months as inflation continues to rise, energy bills soar, and rising interest rates are felt in higher … Continued

The long view of living standards

What drives income growth and inequality in modern Britain?

Monday 4 July 2022

Britain is in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis that is squeezing the incomes of households across the country. That crisis is particularly challenging because it comes against a backdrop of low-income growth and high inequality. Turning these worrying trends around is a key task for the 2020s, with history providing an important guide to … Continued

Catch 2022

What does the end of a global pandemic and the start of a European conflict mean for Britain’s economic outlook?

Monday 14 March 2022

The end of the Covid economic crisis is finally in sight. But it has swiftly been replaced by a terrifying conflict in Europe that threatens lives in Ukraine and livelihoods far beyond its borders. The UK’s immediate post-Covid economy thankfully doesn’t include the lengthy dole queues that normally follow a recession. But it instead faces … Continued

Crunch time

The Living Standards Outlook for 2022

Tuesday 8 March 2022

The good news is that Britain is finally stepping out of the pandemic. The bad news is that it is stepping straight into a renewed living standards squeeze which, according to the latest Bank of England forecasts, could be the tightest one in generations. Prices, bills and taxes are all going up, and wages aren’t … Continued

Covid-19
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Living standards

New year, old pandemic

Assessing the politics, economics and epidemiology of 2022

Thursday 13 January 2022

With Omicron cases the only thing rising faster than energy bills, 2022 is off to a difficult start. The pandemic and cost of living pressures will continue to dominate political and economic debates through 2022, but what that means for strains on the NHS and family budgets, or volatile GDP and poll ratings, is hugely … Continued

Crunch time

The causes and consequences of Britain’s cost of living squeeze

Wednesday 15 December 2021

A faster than expected economic recovery has evolved into an entirely unexpected cost of living squeeze. Energy bills surges, and hot competition for second hand cars or even Christmas presents, means that household bills are rising more swiftly than workers’ pay packets. Policy matters too, with some families seeing benefit cuts this Autumn, while others … Continued

Budgeting for Britain

What the Budget and Spending Review tell us about the Government’s economic strategy

Thursday 28 October 2021

Rishi Sunak has had to make a flurry of major fiscal announcements during his 18-months as Chancellor amidst the Covid-19 crisis. At last, with the worse of the crisis behind us, he will hope to be able to set-out an economic plan for post-pandemic Britain in his Budget and Spending Review next Wednesday. However, with … Continued

The final furlough?

Family finances in the Covid recovery

Thursday 1 July 2021

The UK economy is bouncing back after the deepest downturn in over three centuries. That bounce is being felt in the labour market too, with furlough rates falling and some firms even reporting challenges hiring. However, almost three million people are still not working, while unemployment may rise later in the year. While the UK’s … Continued

Social care
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Living standards
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Welfare

Post-pandemic, post-Beveridge?

Assessing the case for redesigning the welfare state

Thursday 29 April 2021

Millions of us have been supported by social security during the pandemic, which has provided a living standards lifeline amid a deep economic shutdown. But the inadequacy of the UK’s benefit system has also been exposed. The Chancellor had to invent whole new kinds of income protection overnight and boost the basic level of benefits, … Continued

Covid-19
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Incomes
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Living standards

Covid Comparisons

How household finances have been hit across the UK, France and Germany

Wednesday 21 April 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a truly global crisis but, while every country has been affected, not all have been affected equally. Individual countries have taken different approaches to tackling the virus, and protecting workers and families from its economic impacts. Crucially households entered this crisis with very different levels of financial resilience in different … Continued

A standard recovery?

The outlook for living standards, poverty and inequality

Monday 18 January 2021

2020 was tough for household living standards, even with unprecedented support to increase benefits and pay wages through the Job Retention Scheme. While the start of 2021 looks grim, a swift vaccine roll-out holds out the promise of an economic recovery to come. But this unprecedented crisis may be followed by an abnormal recovery for … Continued

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