The true cost of the cap

Claudia Wood debunks the myth of families winning the 'benefits jackpot'.

The benefit cap statistics released last week provoked predictable reactions – finding 33,000 households were subject to the cap led the Daily Mail to label them the ‘families who had hit the benefits jackpot’. It was implied those affected by the cap were somehow gaming the system, and were now being ‘caught out’ by the new rule. But in addition to the £26,000 benchmark being essentially arbitrary (based on average household income rather than an objectiv...

Posted by Claudia Wood on 14 Jan 2014
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Government as 'consumer champion'

Duncan O'Leary kicks off a series profiling the different options for economic reform by Government, starting with the 'consumer champion'.

Over the Christmas break, Jeremy Cliffe of the Economist floated the idea of a Department for Economic Reform in a future Ed Miliband government. The question of whether ‘super departments’ are a good idea has been discussed elsewhere, so I won’t dwell on it here. But the article does beg another question. What would be the mission of such a department under a government of any stripe – and which policy tools would it use? Over the next few weeks I will be posti...

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 10 Jan 2014
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What are our MPs worth?

Duncan O'Leary with an alternative approach to MPs' pay.

Nobody said being a Member of Parliament was easy, but it is hard not to see the raging debate over MPs’ pay as a problem of Westminster’s making. The back-story is one of MPs’ pay being held down (by comparison with other professions) to keep the public happy, with a generous expenses regime to make up the difference. We know how that ended. The next idea was to ‘take the politics out’ of decisions on pay. Deciding how much our representatives should be paid wo...

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 09 Dec 2013
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McCarthyism, good and bad?

David Goodhart reflects on Keith Vaz's question: 'Do you love your country?'

Keith Vaz's question to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger at the Home Affairs Select Committee 'Do you love your country?' has unmissable echoes of McCarthyism. But it is not, or not just, the 'bad' McCarthyism associated with extreme anti-communism and the casual smearing of the reputations of many good Americans for their alleged lack of patriotism. It is also the 'good' McCarthyism of a hitherto semi-excluded minority, Catholic Irish Americans, claiming their pla...

Posted by David Goodhart on 05 Dec 2013
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Apprenticeships and the 'global race'

Jonathan Todd on how we encourage more employers to offer good quality apprenticeships.

The economic return to apprenticeships varies by their qualification level and the subject in which they are taken. In all cases, however, positive experiences require an employer committed to the apprentice, an apprentice committed to their work and training, and training that gives the apprentice the skills relevant to a particular occupation, which is invariably a broader set of skills than that needed in the particular job that they have at the time of the apprenticeship. While this bala...

Posted by Jonathan Todd on 05 Dec 2013
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Why aren't the real 'squeezed middle' saving?

Jodie Ginsberg on how to nudge people back into saving.

Savings rates are plummeting. The latest figures from the Bank of England show savers have been pulling money from their accounts at the fastest rate for nearly 40 years. Some £23 billion has been taken out of long-term savings in the past 12 months - or £900 for every household in the country. The combination of low interest rates, plus sluggish wage increases, and rising inflation is a toxic mix for savers - and especially for those people identified in our latest Demos report ...

Posted by Jodie Ginsberg on 03 Dec 2013
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Boris's cornflake question

The Mayor of London's speech reveals the limits of the idea of 'social mobility', says Duncan O'Leary.

Boris Johnson offered one of the more comprehensive insights into his politics this week, delivering the Thatcher lecture at the Centre for Policy Studies. The Mayor of London (and third favourite to be the next Prime Minister) had two central messages. First, inequality not only encourages endeavour but is inevitable because some are gifted while others are not. Second, society should not shy away from meritocratic competition, allowing the best to rise to the top. Boris's argument has...

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 29 Nov 2013
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Are apprenticeships better than university? You tell us

Apprentices are often talked up, but how many live up to the hype? Jonathan Todd investigates.

Since Demos launched our project on the future of apprenticeships, it has been heartening how many people have been in touch, clearly eager that the opportunities afforded by apprenticeships are maximised. One of these has been Lottie Dexter, who launched the Million Jobs Campaign in January this year. This is asking all political parties to commit to helping the roughly one million young people who are unemployed. As part of this, they are calling for efforts to ensure that all school pupils...

Posted by Jonathan Todd on 28 Nov 2013
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Step up to Serve: The Twitter pledge-o-meter

Carl Miller shows how social media plays an integral role in getting more young people volunteering.

Twitter today has been full of good will, or - specifically - #iwill. This is thanks to the Step up to Serve campaign, launched today at Buckingham Palace by Prince Charles, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. With major support from Government, business and the third sector, it is a major push to get over half of young people regularly taking practical action in the service of others by 2020. This is an important initiative. Demos’ research in support of the campaign finds tha...

Posted by Carl Miller on 21 Nov 2013
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Stepping it up

Spurring a generation of volunteers will require an ambitious change in attitudes, says Jonathan Birdwell.

Youth unemployment, climate change, economic inequality, the rising cost of living, the rising cost of education, and the list goes on.  The next generation is going to have to grapple with these problems. Yet young people are disillusioned with traditional politics as a means of changing the world. They cannot sit around and wait for today’s politicians to solve their problems. They have more tools then ever to affect change, but they need to be inspired, recognised and supported...

Posted by Jonathan Birdwell on 21 Nov 2013
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