Housing Benefit: What the government ought to do – but won't

Radical changes to housing benefit are required in order to stem the £840 million of tax payers 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 circumstances, and the type of property occupied, would be replaced by a uniform benefit for all low paid people. The report's author, Dr Peter King of De Montfort University in Leicester, says that perhaps £350 million in administrative costs and payment errors could be saved by these simplifications alone.

 

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Facing the Future

In 50 years time Britain will still be independent, still a monarchy, and still close to America, but will no longer be influential, and may no longer make waves in science, technology, art or culture. These are among the findings of the new survey conducted by MORI for the Adam Smith Institute. It presents a detailed picture of how the British public see the unfolding century. The report covers issues such as progress, living standards and the welfare state. The young are noticeably different from their elders. They are more optimistic.

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Don't stop the bus

The humble bus is still responsible for more passenger journeys than any other form of public transport, but years of state control and neglect led to people abandoning it by the carriage load. 'Don't Stop the Bus' proposes measures to reinvigorate the bus system by devolving control.

 

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Who owns the past?

We should privatize the past. We should take control of the nation's cultural treasures out of the hands of bureaucratic 'professionals' and give it to enthusiastic independents. That is the view of Andrew Selkirk in his Adam Smith Institute book, 'Who Owns the Past?'

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Public, Private and People

Despite a supportive government and half a century of above inflation inflation increases, the National Health Service is still under strain. In the past few weeks alone, doctors have criticised it for long waiting times, diagnostic mistakes and it's poor record of treating heart disease, cancer and other serious diseases. Everyone accepts that we need to upgrade and modernise Uk healthcare. But to do that most effectively we must develop a wider involvement in the process, with real partnerships between the NHS, the private sector and the patients themselves.

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Planning Rape

Britain's system of town and country planning has evolved in a way which gives immense political power to lobbies. It is incapable of renewing Britain's infrastructure or regenerating decaying habitats, and it cannot cope with projects of national importance. Instead, a National Planning Court should take proposals of national significance out of the local planning regime; the Uniform Business Rate should be abolished; and developers could be allowed to offer a tariff of compensation to local residents.

 

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The Next Leaders?

University students spend more on drink and on entertainment than on tuition fees, and twice as much on clothes as on books, according to this MORI survey. But they do not tolerate intolerance in their friends, and think that their investment in education will help them far more than any UK or EU government initiative.

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The Stakeholder Protection Account

With public budgets tight and negative incentives a concern, government is keen to focus its help on the most needy, letting others carry more of their own burden. This may be the start of a third way for welfare, in which individuals themselves are expected to take on more responsibility for insurable risks presently covered by the state. There is wide experience to draw on, both from within the uk and abroad, of how private insurance can take up some of the strain and tailor a better service to today's more diverse population.