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Bonus ISAs proposes a new scheme to give people more flexibility to build up their tax-free savings pots during the course of a lifetime. The “Bonus ISA” would be offered to anybody who is unable to use their full annual tax-free savings allowance (currently set at £15,000). People would be given the power to roll over any unused portions of their existing ISA allowances into their Bonus ISA account.
Warmer Homes presents a character profile of the 2.3 million households in England living in fuel poverty. Among the findings in the report is the fact that nearly half of all fuel poor households (1.1m) are in work, challenging the perception that fuel poverty primarily involves the elderly and retired.
This report calls for plans to introduce auctioning to enable all technologies to compete on a level playing field should be brought forward. It points to Brazil, where prices for onshore wind have dropped to world record lows since auctioning was introduced. If the UK can achieve a even a fraction of the results from Brazil, it would allow much greater decarbonisation for the available budget.
Housing associations are being stifled by unnecessary red tape that prevents them from building 100,000 new homes a year – a third of the total housing supply needed to keep up with demand. The government should create a new category of ‘Free Housing Associations’, that are able to set their own rent policy, choose their own tenants and manage their housing stock with greater autonomy.
Money for Nothing argues that new fiscal rules should bind future governments to a spending envelope based on reducing the UK’s debt-GDP ratio to a sustainable level. The report highlights the scale of the challenge and argues that strict penalties must be put in place to ensure that politicians stay within the rules, including automatic nominal freezes to public sector pay, the state pension and benefit payments.
Electoral Omission highlights how the administration of elections in the UK remains dangerously inefficient and open to fraud and predicts that there will be up to 15.5 million errors on the UK’s electoral registers at the time of next year’s General Election. The report recommends the introduction of targets for the maximum number of omissions and errors in the electoral register and annual checks to measure accuracy, along with small council tax rebates to encourage people to complete and return their voter registration forms.
Making Contributions Count proposes a new unemployment insurance scheme which will put personal contribution at the heart of the welfare system. The scheme would see people who have worked hard and paid their taxes able to draw from a contributory pot to provide a greater level of out of work support if they need it. Upon retirement, the contributions would be released as part of an individual’s pension package, which could see people who worked all their lives receiving in excess of £10,000.
Work 2.0 provides a blueprint for how the Work Programme – the government’s flagship welfare-to-work policy – should be improved, including ideas on how to better assess jobseeker needs, how to integrate the Programme into the structures of Universal Credit, and how to better recognise local labour market conditions.
A “perfect storm” of challenges could see over 3,000 primary schools (20%) falling below the government’s tough new minimum standards in 2016. Primary Focus says the most effective way to ensure teachers and schools have the capability and capacity to cope with these challenges is to convert all primary schools into Academies, and then ask each school to join an Academy ‘chain’ by 2020.