Death by £1000 cuts?

The history, economics and politics of cutting benefits for millions of households next April

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The first Conservative Conference of a new parliament begins. It comes on the back of a surprisingly emphatic election win, but with rumblings beginning about the Chancellor’s plan to take £1,000 away from millions of low-income households in just six months’ time. At that conference it is George Osborne, not Rishi Sunak, that gets up … Continued

The Winter (Economy Plan) is coming

Chancellor ramps economic support back up, but avoidable design flaws will limit its success in stemming the Autumn rise in unemployment

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Economic policy yesterday caught back up with the ramping back up of social distancing restrictions by the Prime Minister earlier in the week. The Chancellor rightly announced new measures rather than sticking to plans to phase out help for workers and firms.   His most significant policy was the Job Support Scheme (JSS), an extended, … Continued

Locked in?

The triple lock on the State Pension in light of the coronavirus crisis

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It is well known that the triple lock on the State Pension – which states that it rises each year by the highest of earnings growth, inflation and 2.5 per cent – makes its value dependent not just on the general pace of growth in prices and wages, but also on their volatility. The next … Continued

A new settlement for the low paid

Beyond the minimum wage to dignity and respect

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This crisis is shared, but its burden is not. From health risks to job losses, it is the UK’s 4.2 million low-paid workers on whom this pandemic has imposed the greatest cost, and of whom the efforts to combat it have required the greatest sacrifice. Lower earners are three times as likely to have lost … Continued

Public finances under pressure

Lessons for policy makers from April’s public finance figures

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April’s Public Sector Finances data capture the first full month of the coronavirus lockdown and provide a sobering reminder of the fiscal costs of the pandemic. Public sector net borrowing was £62.1 billion last month, the highest level ever recorded and nearly three time higher than the last record of £22 billion in April 2012. … Continued

Getting Britain working (safely) again

The next phase of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

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The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) has been a major public policy success. The unprecedented step of paying 80 per cent of the wages for 6.3 million jobs has made it possible to ask people to stay at home to save lives. This paper explores how the JRS should evolve as restrictions on activity are … Continued

Crystal balls vs rear-view mirrors

The UK labour market after coronavirus

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Summary Sudden and significant hits to the UK labour market in recent weeks have shown that this will be a jobs recession. The focus has rightly been on how to respond to the huge numbers of people losing work, but policy makers and pundits are also beginning to ask what this crisis could mean for … Continued

Next steps to support family incomes in the face of the coronavirus crisis

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The Government has set out an unprecedented package of support for family incomes, including paying 80 per cent of the wages of employees who currently have no work, via its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Delivering that scheme should be the top priority, given its crucial role in preventing a very steep rise in unemployment and … Continued

Economy and public finances
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Political parties and elections

Oven-ready, safety-first

Assessing the Conservatives' 2019 manifesto

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Summary Brexit is happening, but big tax cuts aren’t. That’s the short version of the already fairly short Conservative Manifesto. This manifesto does not tell us much about what the Conservatives would do after 31st January 2020, but it does confirm the country faces a big choice in this election on the size of the … Continued

Political parties and elections

Doubling down on a bigger state

Assessing Labour’s 2019 manifesto

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Summary Labour have doubled down on plans to increase the size of the state, and their ambitious spending pledges have been matched by ambitious revenue-raising plans. There is now a very big choice facing the country on the size of the state it wants, and how it should be funded. Their manifesto also builds on … Continued

Rounding up

Putting the 2019 Spending Round into context

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In his September 2019 Spending Round the Chancellor rightly declared he was “turning the page” on austerity and “writing a new chapter in our public services”. But he has also ripped up his own fiscal rulebook, almost certainly breaking the fiscal ‘mandate’ in the near-term and casting significant doubt over his ability to keep debt falling as a share of GDP over the coming years.

Breaking the rules

Analysing the credibility of the Chancellor’s commitment to keep to his fiscal rules

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The Chancellor is shortly to deliver the first spending round (SR) of the post-austerity era. Although he is only setting departmental budgets for 2020-21, this event will mark a turning point  in our political and economic debates as it brings to an end almost 10 years of austerity. The politics of this SR are relatively … Continued

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