Policy Articles

Harnessing the Australian Model: Assessing the Potential Benefits and Challenges for UK Pensions

Private pension investment. I would guess few areas of public policy are more dull and more tedious sounding. Defence has its expensive toys, albeit years late and billions over budget; climate change has its apocalyptic consequences; even labour market policies, another dry subject, cover the employment rights and protections we can enjoy in work. It may be only somewhat hyperbolic to suggest that discussions on defined contribution vs benefit schemes and investable start-up assets could lull a baby into a deep, relaxing sleep. Nonetheless, the issue has risen up the political agenda in recent months, with both the Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor stressing the importance of getting British pension funds to invest more in UK assets, particularly riskier, small companies. In fact, the former of the two, Jeremy Hunt, has been holding talks with various industry titans to help draw up a series of reforms to be presented at tomorrow’s Mansion House dinner.

Power to the people: how devolution can champion levelling-up

The post-Global Financial Crisis era in British politics and much of that worldwide has been stained with great divisions and disagreements on key policy areas from tax and spending to crime. However, there has been an odd convergence between both major parties in two growingly important areas of public policy. Today, there appears to exist a bipartisan desire to give regions in England greater powers, particularly through the expansion of mayoral authorities where already almost ten million Northerners have their own metro mayor dedicated to local issues and concerns. In fact, the Levelling Up White Paper revealed earlier this year states that “by 2030, every part of England that wants one will have a devolution deal”. Furthermore, levelling-up has become one of the greatest priorities for the UK’s political parties, particularly after the term became so central to Boris Johnson’s 2019 election landslide. Public First has found the policy is the most popular with the public as well as being more popular with Conservative voters than Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Energy independence can be achieved but fracking isn’t the solution

The past few weeks in British politics have been a case of nearly unprecedented upheaval in what should’ve been a simple handover of power. With the Queen’s death, energy price guarantee and mini-budget, the fallout of which continues to dominate the headlines, a just as significant announcement has failed to shape the national debate. The government has, as a result of the European energy shock, announced it intends for Britain to reach energy independence by 2040. This involves a bid to speed-up renewable energy development, possible energy market reform and, more controversially, new North Sea oil and gas licences in addition to lifting the ban on fracking.

The NHS is Britain's most treasured institution yet policy missteps have left it facing an existential staffing crisis

Since its creation, the NHS has been one of the most important issues for the public in every election for more than seven decades. With 87% proud of the institution, it’s second only to firefighters when it comes to the commitment Britons feel to protecting and supporting our NHS. However, the crisis that it currently faces is as dramatic as any it has faced in its history. The size of the NHS backlog, the number of people waiting to receive care, has been steadily rising as the health service struggles to tackle the chaos left in the wake of Covid-19 and in early September reached over 6.8 million, the largest in history.

From Roaring Twenties to Recession: How the UK fell into economic turmoil

"A week is a long time in politics.” The words of Prime Minister Harold Wilson are typically reflected upon in times of political turmoil, but perhaps the same can be said for the plunge in economic outlook that’s shaped discussion in the UK as of late. 2021 had been a year of strong growth in the British economy, which grew faster than any other major G7 economy. Prospects were so optimistic, particularly amongst government ministers, that comparisons with the Roaring Twenties were made for the decade ahead. However, hopes for this have evaporated with the reality that 2022 has brought.

Going green, not global, to tackle rising energy prices?

As we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK has been hit by a cost-of-living crisis. Nearly one in three British adults say they are now struggling to meet their financial commitments. The challenge of making ends meet is forecasted to worsen, with an increase in National Insurance tax taking effect in April and rising inflation predicted to reach over 7% this year. As such, the government has taken action to attempt to alleviate the financial stress on households.

The Budget that betrayed Sunak’s Conservative instincts

For a man whose political idol is Nigel Lawson, Rishi Sunak’s most recent Budget did more than any in recent years to break with Thatcherite Conservatism. Whilst some Tories may have hoped the financial windfall from the faster recovery would be put into avoiding some of the significant tax rises that are yet to come, it appears that pressure from the PM has seen the Chancellor deliver £150 billion more in departmental spending over the next three years.

Furlough, corporate tax rises and levelling up: have the Tories gone red?

“My assessment now is that we probably didn’t cut enough.” The words of former Prime Minister David Cameron remind us of Conservatism not too long ago. A Conservatism that framed public finances like a household budget, despite economists deploring such comparison. A Conservatism that fuelled record inequality, poverty, and NHS waiting times, all to fund cutting corporate tax by a third and the additional income tax rate for high earners by 10%.