Press Release: This is not the right time for another NHS pay claim

Commenting on tomorrow’s (24 November 2014)  four-hour NHS staff strike, Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Dr Eamonn Butler, said:

The decision to hold a second strike over pay is a serious misjudgment on the part of the unions that have decided to join in. Average pay in the UK grew just 0.1% last year, and many businesses are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. But NHS pay has been rising since 2012.

55% of NHS staff already get an annual 3% rise: so the government is saying that any extra cash for wages should go to the workers who do not get this. So it is proposing a 1% rise for the others, but not an extra 1% on top of the existing 3% increments.

Extending the 1% rise to all NHS workers is estimated to cost around £300 million. Some 75% of hospitals’ budgets is staff costs, so the extra cost that the union proposals would impose on them would mean cutbacks in staff – some 4,000 nurses lost this year, and another 10,000 next year.

The UK has economic growth of 3% but it is still fragile, and there are lots of things that could still spell disaster; and the British government is 1.45trillion in debt, and adding to that debt by another £100 billion a year. This just is not the right time for another pay claim. And certainly not for another Winter of Discontent (with images of ambulance crews dropping ‘non-emergency’ cases off in the snow to find their way home).

Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Andrews, Communications Manager, at kate@adamsmith.org / 07584 778207.

The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Kate Andrews’ comments on decision to ban Julien Blanc from the UK feature in The Australian, CityAM, and the Daily Mail

Communications Manager Kate Andrews’ comments on the Home Secretary’s decision to deny Julien Blanc entry to the UK were featured in The Australian, CityAM, and the Daily Mail.

From The Australian:

The decision to deny the Swiss-born American a visa has led to a furious debate in the UK about freedom of speech.

Kate Andrews from the Adam Smith Institute said banning people simply because they expressed offensive views set a dangerous precedent.

Ms Andrews suggests people should boycott Mr Blanc’s events and turn off their TVs.

“Debate is better than banning it,” she told Sky News.

From CityAM:

While the decision to deny a visa to a 25-year old pick up artist may please those who signed the petition others are concerned about the precedent the decision may set in terms of free speech.

Kate Andrews, communications manager at the Adam Smith Institute, wrote:

Surely, we must recognise that there is a fundamental difference between the private sphere taking away one man’s platform to be noticed, and the state taking away every person’s platform to speak freely without threat of punishment or criminalisation.

Some worry that barring Blanc from the UK will actually increase his appeal and turn him into a matyr.

From the Daily Mail:

But Kate Andrews, of the respected Adam Smith Institute think tank, said: “The decision to deny Julien Blanc’s entrance into the UK has set the precedent that freedoms of speech and expression can be criminalised, if and when enough people sign a petition.

“Blanc’s comments are socially reprehensible and offensive to both men and women, but if we do not respect the rights of the offensive, we start risking the safety of any minority viewpoint.”

Press Release: McKinsey obesity report misjudges weight of evidence on economic costs

Commenting on the McKinsey report that found obese people cost the UK £47 billion a year, Head of Policy at the Adam Smith Institute, Ben Southwood, said:

We do not want to live in a society where we tot up how much each person or group of persons ‘puts in’ and ‘takes out’, but in any case the premise here is faulty. Existing studies find that obese people cost the health service less in total, over their lifetimes, than the non-obese. Healthy people cost the most, because they require far more end of life care.

The McKinsey report finds a different result—that the obese cost the UK £47bn per year—partly through counting it as a ‘cost’ when people produce less output over their lives due to obesity. Part of the difference is down to looking at annual, and not life-cycle, numbers. But we don’t call it a ‘cost’ when people decide to become teachers or nurses, who rate their jobs as more satisfying, but are less economically productive than accountants or lawyers.

It may be that reducing obesity will make people happier and healthier, and if so then we should make it as easy as possible for people to lose weight. But we should not rush to believing that the overweight are costing the rest of us.

Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Andrews, Communications Manager, at kate@adamsmith.org / 07584 778207.

The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.