Wednesday 6 September 2017

Britain's ailing economy: the truth.

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.
In response a Treasury spokesman, on behalf of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, says that employment is at a record high, the public finances are in better shape and the Gini coefficient is at a 30 year low.

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.
Well, we Liberal Democrats would go along with most of that, and we've been banging on about it for years,  though we might have said "effective employee representation and profit sharing" along with stronger trade unions.

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.

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