Demos Responds to the Summer Budget

Demos responds to the Chancellor's Budget, delivered on 8 July 2015.

The Chancellor's Summer Budget was billed as bold and delivered on the promise. It marks a clear break with the Coalition and New Labour before it.  The Living Wage will dominate the headlines. It is designed as a companion to tax cuts for business and as an alternative approach to tax credits. However, the devil be in the detail. For example, the living wage currently assumes that people receive tax credits, which the Budget also signalled would be cut.  It will also be ...

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 08 Jul 2015
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Equality of Opportunity and the Productivity Puzzle

Demos Researcher, Louis Reynolds, shows how improving economic opportunity can help Britain to solve its ongoing productivity crisis.

While the Budget announced today will be the first Conservative Budget since 1996, it will focus on the same old problems that have plagued the British economy since the crisis years of 2007 and 2008. Of course, the most politically important issue is the deficit, to which the Chancellor will prescribe a continued programme of spending reductions. As always before a budget, the press have been kept in a state of speculative feeding frenzy through the slow leaking of details, and it seems that...

Posted by Louis Reynolds on 08 Jul 2015
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The Terms of Trade

Demos' Research Director, Duncan O'Leary, unpicks the paternalism and protectionism dominating debate about Sunday trading hours.

Sunday trading – set to feature in today’s Budget – is one of those political issues that can leave you between a rock and a hard place.  There are bad, paternalistic reasons to want to restrict it. One of these is that 'people do not need to shop on Sundays'. To which the answer is: it is not up to the Government to tell me when it is in my best interests to go shopping.  There are also bad, protectionist reasons to restrict it. 'Small businesses wil...

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 08 Jul 2015
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Mind the Gap

Lucy James makes the case for why youth mental health services must survive the axe on Budget Day.

Ahead of the Chancellor’s Summer Budget, the majority of media attention has focused on where the Government’s foreshadowed £12bn in spending cuts will be found. The scale of the savings means many community groups and welfare providers are bracing themselves for unexpected surprises. This includes workers in the children’s and adolescent mental health sector, many of whom hold high suspicions that past assurances will  not hold in the coming squeeze. The transit...

Posted by Lucy James on 06 Jul 2015
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The dilemmas of decentralisation

Duncan O'Leary explains how the Government's decision to hand over the funds underpinning the Independent Living Fund to local authorities reveals the challenges and opportunities of devolution.

Yesterday was the final day of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). This money, which has been distributed by central Government to disabled people since 1988, is being devolved to local councils. The controversy surrounding the change shows how devolving more power and money to local authorities is not always as easy as it sounds. As the name suggests, the purpose of the ILF is to help people live more independent lives. Local authorities provide funding for social care for disabled people, ...

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 02 Jul 2015
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Closing the Inequalities Gap on Character Education

Ralph Scott introduces Demos' new education report, which reveals significant inequalities of access amongst children to character-building extra-curricular activities.

“I have never visited a school that excelled academically, which didn’t also excel in extra-curricular activities. As top heads and teachers already know, sports clubs, orchestras and choirs, school plays, cadets, debating competitions, all help to build character and instill grit, to give children’s talents and an opportunity to grow and to allow them to discover new talents they never knew they had.” It may raise an eyebrow to be told that the above quote comes from...

Posted by Ralph Scott on 29 Jun 2015
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English, Not Employment, Must Come First for Migrants

Alice Crawford sheds light on the relationship between under-proficiency in English and barriers to quality employment and suggests that it’s language, not employment that has to come first.

The ability to speak English is widely considered essential to integration into British society. Not only has this view been promoted by the Prime Minister and Home Office policy, but polling shows that 95 per cent of us believe it is a pre-requisite for being ‘truly British’. Unfortunately, we’re a lot less clear on how we expect people to learn English.    Between 2009 and 2014, Government funding for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) decreased...

Posted by Alice Crawford on 26 Jun 2015
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The Opportunities of Change

As the Government flags welfare reform as a centrepiece of its first year in Government, Ally Paget considers the priorities for the newly announced Work and Pensions Select Committee.

The new Government has wasted little time in making it clear that welfare policy will be high on the agenda for 2015, with David Cameron’s speech on Monday pinning system reform to the heart of his ‘One Nation’ agenda. But the past week has also seen the appointment of a new Select Committee Chair for the Work and Pensions Committee, which will undoubtedly also play a strong role in shaping the future of welfare over this Parliamentary term. The selection process saw Frank ...

Posted by Ally Paget on 24 Jun 2015
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Overcoming the Barriers to Impactful Policy

The launch of the Centre for Public Impact provides an opportunity to tackle some of the practical and political barriers to sound and effective policy design, writes Sophie Gaston.

On Tuesday evening, the Boston Consulting Group hosted a reception to formally launch their new Centre for Public Impact – an initiative that aims to “brings together world leaders to learn, exchange ideas and inspire each other to strengthen the public impact of their organisations”. In many respects, it is unsurprising to see another consulting firm seeking to take a bigger stake in the public sector market; after all, in a time of ongoing austerity, the need for leaner, ...

Posted by Sophie Gaston on 18 Jun 2015
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The Local Solution to Energising Democracy

The Government has given mixed messages on its attitudes to NIMBYism, writes Charlie Cadywould. But more local control and accountability in energy production could help budgets, the environment, and democracy.

The Government’s localism agenda has changed the planning system in a number of important ways over the last five years. Regional Spatial Strategies, which many Conservatives perceived as too prescriptive and top-down, were abolished, with new neighbourhood planning powers offered to parish councils and other local groups. Underpinning new tools such as Neighbourhood Development Plans and the Community Right to Build is the belief that NIMBYism is in part caused by overly-centralised a...

Posted by Charlie Cadywould on 17 Jun 2015
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