Three lessons from the Treasury’s Spending Challenge fiasco

You’ve seen the Treasury’s Spending Challenge website, right? The one which asks members of the public to tell the government how to cut. More

Well-being, advertising and another product placement consultation

We recently heard the depressing news that the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has decided that the most appropriate people to fund the Government’s Change 4 Life initiative - which encourages young people and their families to eat healthier foods and be more active in order to support their well-being – could include the junk food industry.  And in return More

We need a bigger plug for the enterprise gap

“Politicians need to be pulled up short sometimes,” says nef researcher Dr Faiza Shaheen.  “They need to be confronted by evidence that what they say isn’t quite true.”

Faiza is a labour market economist.  Her analysis of the likely impact of waiving national insurance contributions on new enterprise – not nearly enough – is likely to have an important impact as policy-makers look more closely at exactly how new business could create jobs.

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Little banks, big success

You might expect that, after one of the worst banking crashes in history, that the smallest banks of all might be suffering the most.  But, at least in the USA, the credit union sector is not only doing rather well, they are doing better than the big banks.

There are 7,600 credit unions in the USA, though many of them are giants compared to their equivalents in the UK, at least in England (Ireland’s credit unions are much more established, on both sides of the border). 

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Population bomb or consumption explosion?

Today, on World Population Day, the Royal Society has launched two year inquiry into human population growth and how it might affect social and economic development.

Contrary to what some might have you believe, discussing population isn’t a taboo. Rather the debate is heavily polarised between those who champion (directly or indirectly) coercive population control and those who believe following good, gender-aware development and poverty reduction is all that is necessary.

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A rallying cry in the fight for justice

“So, dream with me of a fairer world, but let us take the pragmatic steps necessary to achieve it.”

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The wisdom of crowds

As the hazy outlines of the Conservative’s Big Society idea begin to harden into shapes like the divisive Free Schools project, some of its problems are coming sharply in to focus. In this time of historic budget cuts, competition for government spending will be fiercer than ever. Against this background, giving groups of citizens the opportunity to bid for pots of government money for their own purposes could be a recipe for disaster. Without the right structures, the Big Society could degenerate into the divided society as groups mobilise to claim their share of what’s on offer. More

The European Union needs a sea change in fisheries policy

This is the story about a farmer who had a vast fertile piece of land where to grow multiple vegetables; the farmer sold the vegetables in the market and had a nice living. But one day the farmer burnt half of the land and started picking the vegetables from neighboring fields. Then he burnt a bit more and started picking and buying vegetables from fields which were further away. This was quite costly so he had to rely on taxpayers' money who happily helped him to continue in this absurd journey. 

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Painful cuts

David Cameron yesterday described the need to make drastic cuts as “critical” and “urgent”. He said that his predcessors in government had “thought the good times would go on forever”, and that not we must face up to the fact that “we have been living beyond our means”. Profligacy and waste “is the legacy our generation threatens to leave the next.” The current situation is “unsustainable”. More

What 40 per cent cuts mean for public services

It is hard to interpret the call for 40 per cent spending cuts in some departments, reported over the weekend.  On the face of it, cuts on that scale would transform the nation, and almost certainly for the worse.  It is hard to imagine the welfare state, as we currently understand it, surviving.

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