Community sentence reforms: conspiciously punitive, but are they effective?

The government’s recently announced plans to revamp community sentences, to be spelled out in the upcoming Justice Bill, contain some eye catching new sanctions: “sobriety bracelets” that track offenders’ adherence to drinking bans by measuring the ethanol in their sweat; 24-hour GPS monitoring of the movements of those on curfew; greater scope for seizing the (non-luxury) assets of the convicted.     More

Hood Robin

Of all the many and pressing problems bearing down on the UK economy, from rising unemployment to climate change, the menaced fortunes of the enormously wealthy could not be considered amongst them. Quite the opposite: the incomes of the top 1 per cent rose by 10 per cent over 2010, just as average real earnings were falling.


Budget 2012: Inequality set to rise

It was hard not to laugh when I read claims that this was a 'Robin Hood' Budget. Today the government unveiled yet more spending plans set to hit the poorest hardest.

Impact on Households



Budget 2012: A budget for the 1%

Amidst the interest rate spin, tax breaks for the super-rich and anti-green infrastructure policies, the Chancellor committed us to another year of economically illiterate austerity, despite its crippling effects on our economy and society. It’s the macroeconomic equivalent of medieval medicine, bleeding a sick, weak patient in the hope of making them better. More

The question credit easing begs

There a many problems with credit easing once one looks at the details. It excludes the smallest businesses; a 1% reduction in borrowing costs is entirely irrelevant if the banks refuse to lend to you at all. It is almost entirely irrelevant if they are currently only offering to lend at rates of over 10% and as high as 20% - the situation faced by between one fifth and one quarter of respondents to the Federation of Small Business survey in February 2012.


Budget 2012: beef up the Green Investment Bank

Originally posted at New Statesman.

If George Osborne does one thing today he should use the Green Investment Bank to create jobs and transform the economy. The collapse in private sector investment is the biggest single factor behind the UK's stagnation, with investment by firms down some £48bn from its 2008 peak.


Freezing the minimum wage will hurt not help young people

Originally posted at Comment is free.


A budget that will take the lid off the top and increase inequality

Will the Conservatives show their true blue colours tomorrow in Osborne’s third budget or try to keep the peace with the Lib Dems and the general public? Will the 50p income tax rate stay or go? It looks likely to go, but why? The arguments for and against the 50p tax rate are well rehearsed, here they are in brief.


Austerity isn’t working. Don’t drown the dog, Mr Osborne

‘Labour isn’t working’ was the iconic political campaign poster of the 1970s, credited with helping to elect the Conservative Party and its new leader Margaret Thatcher. It showed that first impressions can overshadow irony. Unemployment at the time was just under 1.5 million. Before the end of the Conservative’s first term of office it had more than doubled to over 3 million.


In defence of well-being

We always welcome debate about well-being. So when, in January, the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) published a collection of articles which criticised the use of well-being metrics in policymaking, we were pleased to see that even the most hardened critics engaging in a debate about well-being data. More

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