Opinion and Editorial from the Policy Exchange team.
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Following Ed Miliband’s pledge to freeze energy bills, Guy Newey, Policy Exchange’s Head of Environment and Energy, examines what options government has to actually lower energy bills without abandoning green commitments. Guy draws up a list of 8 options, but highlights how complicated each approach is, and argues that government might have to concede the inevitability of rising energy prices whilst pledging to keep them as low as possible and protect those most vulnerable.
The Chancellor’s announcement of a new fiscal rule to ensure the government runs a surplus is to be commended, writes Ed Holmes, Economics & Social Policy Senior Research Fellow at Policy Exchange. Such measures must be taken to reduce the deficit and to achieve the sound public finances few previous governments have mustered.
In public policy, relative priority matters – will new data from Save the Children mean we see a greater focus on primary schooling?
Jonathan Simons, Policy Exchange’s Head of Education, comments on new data from Save the Children showing that 78% of the difference in attainment recorded in literacy and numeracy at age 16 is already present at age 7. Jonathan notes the significiant pivot from the organisation from their previous focus on living standards to the schools space, and asks whether this might see policymakers likewise refocus their efforts to this area.
Policy Exchange’s Head of Crime & Justice, Max Chambers, analyses the achievements and progress made by the Home Secretary, Theresa May and the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, as well as the challenges ahead and the role that crime and immigration will play in the upcoming 2015 general election.
Giving local people more control over local developments could help solve the housing crisis and help the Conservatives win the next election, writes Alex Morton, Head of Housing & Planning at Policy, By engaging with this growing social and economic crisis, the government could build hundreds of thousands of good quality homes without isolating local people.
Nick Faith, Policy Exchange’s Director of Communications, sets out the reasons behind Policy Exchange’s decision to form a new Black and Ethnic Minority Research Unit. Nick points out that, despite making up 15-20% of England’s population, and with a diverse range of communities each with their own nuances, politicians have tended to assume that BME groups can be treated as a single political entity and very little research has actually been conducted as to why individuals within these communities choose to engage (or not) in British politics and public life.
Guy Newey, Head of Environment & Energy at Policy Exchange criticises Ed Miliband’s decision to freeze energy bills until 2017 if elected. By fixing prices, the government runs the risk of having energy companies set their bills too high, and means that low-carbon projects will be unlikely to get the funding they need from business.
Harriet Waldegrave, Education Research Fellow at Policy Exchange, sets out the importance of preserving early years interventions for children in deprived areas, calling for the lowering of the income-threshold for tax-free childcare to £60,000, saving £238 million for reinvestment. She also highlights the inadequate state of data-collection on the effectiveness of programmes run by Children’s Centres and makes recommendations for how this should be improved.
Policy Exchange’s recently appointed Head of Education, Jonathan Simons, responds to the Lib Dem’s announcement that all five – seven year olds will receive free school meals from next year. Jonathan argues that although there are some benefits attained from more children eating school lunches, the £600m cost of this scheme could be better spent increasing the pupil premium to provide better quality education to the most deprived youngsters.
Nick Faith, Director of Communications at Policy Exchange writes that with the focus on living standards in the run up to the next general election, by selling off its remaining shares in Lloyds the government could put £230 in every pocket and give itself a much needed boost in the polls in the process.