The think tank Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) has produced a damning report on the present state of the British economy. It must be true because the Archbishop of Canterbury is a member, but just to balance any wishy-washy "do-goodery" the Institute also contains hard-headed businessmen as well. Actually His Grace, before changing careers, was a pretty hard-headed and successful businessman himself.
The report points out among other things, that:
- Britain has the most geographically unbalanced economy in Europe, with 40% of our output now from London and the South East, and average incomes 30% lower in much of the rest of the country:
- jobs are increasingly casualised with 3% of workers now on zero hours contracts:
- over half of those of us defined as poor actually live in working households, and nearly a third of our children are living in poverty:
- our productivity is 13% below the average for the G7, and 20% below that of Germany and, France (ouch!):
- our investment (on which future growth and prosperity depend) is 5% below the OECD average:
- our current account balance of overseas payments deficit (the one that really matters and really will be a burden on future generations) continues to be massive.
You pays your many and you takes your choice.
To remedy our predicament the IPPR suggests:
- a simpler tax system, taxing "bads," such as pollution rather than "goods," such as employment:
- a better distribution of wealth through new taxes (wealth taxes?)
- more devolution to the nations and regions:
- stronger trade unions to protect workers in the gig economy:
- better regulation and taxation of monopoly digital companies.
Sadly, instead discussing these, and other, solutions to our predicament, our politicians are wasting time squabbling over the arrangements for making the UK an even less comfortable place to live in by leaving the EU.