High Speed 2 will be enormously expensive if the government proceeds with it. But is it worth the money? In this report, Nigel Hawkins examines the arguments for HS2, particularly the "non-economic" benefits of the project, and argues that HS2 is a white elephant that the government should scrap.
Synopsis: Radical changes to housing benefit are required in order to stem the £840 millon of tax payer's money lost annually to fraud and error, and to make the housing market fairer and more responsive to the needs of tenants. Housing benefit should be taken out of the hands of local authorities, and instead paid out by social security offices along with income support. Today's very complicated payment rates, which depend on the tenant's rent level, family circumtances,and the type of property occupied; would be replaced by a uniform benefit for all low paid people. The report's author, housing expert Dr Peter King of DeMontford university in Leicester, says that prehaps £350 million in adminastrative cost and payment errors could be saved by there simplifications alone.
Mid-February 2001, and the Prime Minister proposes that we should start an investment account for every child in Britain. A baby bond' that would be invested and would grow. And perhaps even added to over the years in order to give every Brit a useful cash sum at 18. That could help them fund their higher education, or special health needs, or housing costs, or could be rolled into a pension for their retirement. Great new idea, or what?
Basel III requires an increase in the size of banks’ equity relative to their loans and a more formal assessment of risk, says Tim Ambler. Big companies will be able to shop around within the competitive international markets. However, in a situation where five big banks dominate the UK market, Britain’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be hit both by the reduced availability of loans and by higher interest rates. Since SMEs drive the UK economy, the consequence of Basel III is negative for the UK.
Are Private Military Contractors (PMCs) the villains of modern warfare? In this extended piece, Anna Moore argues that PMCs can play a vital – and valuable – role in making armies more flexible and streamlined, if properly used by governments. As in so many areas, private contractors can give states better results in key areas of public goods – if governments can avoid the oversight failures that have blighted PMCs' operations so far and strive for competition and transparency.
A judicial review of Britain's liberties would give the Conservatives a programme of reforms and help David Cameron establish his pro-liberty credentials, says Madsen Pirie.
Distinguished actuary and government advisor on pensions Alan Pickering believes he has found a way to overcome the savings crisis that could just have everyone agreeing. Better education, simplification, a wider role for employers- but the key measure is to massively increase the basic state pension, while raising the retirement age too.
The following memo, which has fallen into our hands, is a draft of advice to the new Irish Minister for Finance from a British colleague who has a wealth of expertise on how to handle economic crises. He prefers to remain anonymous for professional reasons.
Can countries leave the eurozone? Yes, says Gabriel Stein, but with some difficulty. In this article, the Director of Lombard Street Research outlines the challenges and mechanics of leaving the Economic and Monetary Union of the EU. It wouldn't be easy, but it might be some eurozone countries' only hope of economic recovery.
In this think piece, Tom Clougherty outlines the key ways the free market can be promoted in 2009: offer a compelling narrative that runs counter to 'common wisdom'; oppose Keynesianism and the idea that government can stimulate the economy; expose the government interventions and failures that contributed to the financial crisis; advocate policies to raise productivity and economic competitiveness; and educate people about theories and ideas of the great free-market thinkers, particularly those of the Austrian School.