Hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson talk to Nadine Smith, Director of the Centre for Public Impact. Prior to her current role, Nadine was a civil servant at the Cabinet Office for many years, working at the centre of UK government at the intersection of policy, politics and communications. Franz and Matt begin by asking Nadine about the mission of the Centre for Public Impact and how they look to influence policymakers and improve government. The conversation considers the problems that arise when public service provision is marketized and driven by performance targets and league tables, and how many systems might be redesigned to be more responsive to the needs of citizens. Nadine, Franz and Matt then go on to discuss the possibilities for greater citizen involvement in decision-making – and the ways in which we could potentially introduce more deliberative democracy in the UK.
After a great deal of fuss about air bridges and people being able to go on summer holiday, things suddenly changed last weekend. A swift about turn saw a 14 day quarantine period imposed for those arriving in the UK from Spain at just six hours’ notice, hitting tens of thousands of holidaymakers who are there already, those with trips booked and leaving Britons hoping for some Spanish sunshine stuck in travel limbo… again. So is this the end of summer holidays for 2020? Are holidays to Spain off the cards for some time, and can you go to France, Italy, Greece or anywhere else safe in the knowledge you can come home and not have to take an extra fortnight off work? On this week’s podcast Georgie Frost – in Spain and facing a 14 day quarantine if she can get back – is joined by Simon Lambert and Grace Gausden to talk holidays, travel insurance, refunds, air bridges and whether even a staycation is safe. Plus, as savings rates take another tumble should you lock your money away for five years at 1.1 per cent just to protect against further falls? And finally, is buy-to-let back? A stamp duty cut, low rates and a weaker property market has got property investors interested again but are they saving money now just to lose it in future?
In the first episode of this new series looking at how Coronavirus has affected the working landscape, Peter Urwin is joined by Len Shackleton, Professor of Economics at the University of Buckingham.
Experience of previous pandemics suggests current restrictions may last until summer 2021. The UK government's policy response has limited the hardship of lockdown and lessened initial negative impacts on employment. However, there is now a question of how we revive the economy and recover previous levels of employment. In this interview, Prof. Len Shackleton argues that spending on job retention and other schemes have been useful “sticking plasters”, but the key to sustained recovery is the creation of new jobs by the market. They consider specific areas of the economy where Prof Shackleton argues that deregulation is needed to free enterprise and drive jobs growth; comparing this to the use of job subsidy programmes for the unemployed, and other government funding aimed at incentivising companies to take on staff.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson discuss a non-COVID-19 policy topic that has been prominent in recent months following the recent Black Lives Matter protests: the ethnic inequalities that exist in socio-economic outcomes in the UK. Examining the issue from an academic viewpoint, Franz initially explains how labour economists define discrimination and how theoretically classical economics would expect labour market discrimination on the basis of race or gender to be eliminated by market forces. Matt and Franz go on to discuss how reality clashes with this theory, setting out the extent of contemporary ethnic and gender pay inequalities and some of the issues with analysis that seeks to explain away the large differences in pay between men and women and between white workers and those of other ethnicities. The discussion continues by looking at studies directly highlighting discrimination in hiring in both the UK and the US, before concluding with thoughts on what policymakers could do to address these longstanding inequalities.
The showstopper was a big stamp duty cut, the important element was about keeping jobs afloat, and the rabbit out of the hat was a great British meal deal. But the question is, was Rishi Sunak splashing the cash in the summer statement enough to get the nation’s confidence back in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, or will real recovery require more down the line? On this week’s podcast, Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce, and Georgie Frost run the rule over the Chancellor’s performance (spoiler alert, he’s good) and the substance of his speech (you’ll have to listen to the show for the verdict on that). They also ask the awkward question of how are we going to pay for all this – and does that even matter right now? Plus, was that a killer blow for the ‘bad tax’ that is stamp duty; will a £1,000 bung be enough for a company to keep someone in work; how badly will the hospitality industry be hit; and just how crazy would you have called someone who forecast at the start of the year that by summer we’d have an official Eat Out to Help Out scheme? Listen to the podcast to hear the team’s verdict on all this and more.
The Chancellor’s coronavirus rescue plan for the British economy has been bold and big, but one important part of the workforce feels somewhat hard done by. A chunk of the self-employed have been excluded from Rishi Sunak’s support in a way that employees have not. More than 9million employees are having 80 per cent of their wages up to £2,500 a month paid by the taxpayer under the furlough scheme, with no limits barring high earners from help. In contrast, anyone who is self-employed and has made more than £50,000 in recent years gets no help whatsoever. Those hit by the £50,000 cap are not the limited company directors who can pay themselves in dividends, they are sole traders paying national insurance and income tax in full on their earnings. At a time when the government is throwing hundreds of billions of pounds at the coronavirus crash to support people and boost the chances of recovery, is it fair to exclude this group of the self-employed? On this week’s podcast, Simon Lambert, Georgie Frost and Tanya Jefferies look at how this has happened and whether there is any hope left for those affected that things might change. Tanya also updates listeners on her ground-breaking investigations into widows underpaid state pension, which have seen her win tens of thousands of pounds back for those who got less than they should have. Simon reveals the best and worst performing funds of the year so far and tries to tackle the question of whether the US stock market can just keep on trucking. And finally, recent podcasts have featured how Britain has gone mad for hot tubs in lockdown but there is a new hot property in town – the awfully-named ‘shoffice’.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Matt Dickson and Franz Buscha talk to Neil Davies, Senior Research Fellow at the MRC Integrated Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol. Neil is a statistical epidemiologist, so Franz and Matt begin by finding out what life has been like for an epidemiologist since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Neil then explains his recent work showing how some of the myriad statistics we’re seeing relating to coronavirus suffer from their survey design, which can generate misleading apparent relationships between COVID-19 risk and individual characteristics, such as smoking. Next, Neil explains the statistical technique known as ‘Mendelian Randomisation’; which uses natural variation in our genes to help understand how health conditions and other individual characteristics impact on health and other social and economic outcomes. Matt, Franz and Neil go on to explore some of Neil’s recent research using this technique, which shows how education and intelligence impact the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, how BMI affects later outcomes, and why continuing longer in school might lead to increased costs at the opticians!
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Good Work Index provides a snapshot of UK working lives, including opportunities for homeworking and job flexibility as we went into lockdown. In this interview, Peter Urwin speaks to Jonny Gifford, Senior Advisor for Organisational Behaviour at the CIPD. He describes how UK job quality indicators compare to those of other countries; arguing that any encouraging headline figures hide concerns over UK job quality inequality. They consider the role of government and employers in tackling such inequality, and flag worrying trends in UK work-life balance. For instance, recent years have seen a decline in reported wellbeing from the UK Working Lives survey – and the latest instalment of the survey allows us to ask how this, and other trends, has been impacted by the pandemic.
In this episode of Policy Matters, hosts Franz Buscha and Matt Dickson talk to Simon Burgess, Professor of Economics at the University of Bristol. With COVID-19 and all the policy responses to it still very much at the forefront of public policy, Franz and Matt begin by asking Simon about the likely impact of school closures on child attainment, how this may affect existing socio-economic inequalities and what policymakers could do to tackle the issue once schools settle back to “normal”. The additional problems of replacing GCSE and A-level exams with teacher assessments are also considered, along with the difficult situation facing graduates finishing university this year. The discussion then moves on to Simon’s research into the impact of students’ effort on their educational outcomes. Simon explains how international football tournaments and school visits from Michelle Obama have provided insights into the huge effect that students’ effort can have on their results – and how policymakers might harness these findings.
A This is Money investigation has revealed a string of women who have been underpaid their state pension, but are they just the tip of an iceberg? On this week’s podcast, our pensions agony uncle Steve Webb and pension and investing editor Tanya Jefferies tell the stories of the women paid thousands less in state pension over the years than they should have been - and discuss their probe into the matter. Steve estimates that there could be tens of thousands of women who have been underpaid state pension. This is Money has called for a full review, but the Department of Work and Pensions is reluctant to act other than on a case-by-case basis. Should more be done?
Also, on this week’s podcast Simon Lambert and Georgie Frost discuss the reopening of the property market, who might be brave enough to buy and sell now, and what the forecasts are for sales and house prices. Estate agents Knight Frank predict a 7 per cent drop, while the Bank of England says property prices may fall 16 per cent, but agents claim that lockdown has created pent-up demand. And, as the furlough scheme is extended, we look at the implications of 7.5million people having 80 per cent of their wages picked up by the state and how Britain weans itself off that.