This detailed report from the institutes trafficflow project team explores the equipment and policy requirements to make congestion charging work in major cities. How much does congestion cost? Why must a charging scheme be electronic rather than paper based? How can the technology be made affordable? How much importance should be given to simplicity, flexibility, public opinion, privacy and bolt on services that make life better for road users?
Bus services would be more efficient if local transport officials, who seem bent on reversing the deregulation of the last decade, just got out of the way and let private bus companies manage things more freely, an international expert on transport argues. A government so committed to competition should reject highly regulated European-style 'franchise' systems that prevail in London, the report maintains.
Excise duties on alcohol should be lowered and those on spirits should be cut most of all says St Andrews economist Dr Paul Haines. The report examines and challenges Treasury assumptions concerning the way in which consumption of alcohol reacts to price changes. Alcohol consumption doesn't rise indefinitely with increases in prosperity, and attempts to curb alcohol consumption by increases in excise duties will probably fail. Not only that but further increases only lead to an increase in smuggling. The recent rises relate to losses in the Treasury revenue whereas a freeze or reduction to more revenue. Dr Haines proposes a duty of £10 per litre of pure alcohol, an abolishment of the duty and VAT on Commonwealth importation of alcohol. We should have lower duties and equal duties.
Inflexible friend examines the likely impact of the governments IR35 proposals to force many self - employed contractors into the tax net of full time employment. Professor Burton points out that all of today's advanced economies are primarily service based. Britain, being no exception to this, is placing future economic success in jeopardy with these proposals, possibly resulting in "the virtual emasculation of the self employment sector of the UK economy".
This analysis suggests that official economic statistics systematically understate increases in living standards. It makes the case that many statistics, including Gross Domestic Product (GDP), might have been appropriate to the age of mass production, but fail to reflect accurately the new economy which is being created by the application of information technology.
Globalization and the Internet will discriminate against high tax and high spending governments, so believers in state power are now turning to international government to impose international controls. The choice is between the American model that creates a million new jobs a year, and the high tax, high unemployment model of the continent. Britain should set low, simple, transparent taxes and low regulation, which are the conditions that reward success and encourage investment and risk-taking. Britain should embrace globalization and all that it offers, instead of retreating into protectionism.
Governments have completely mishandled risk issues such as BSE, GM foods and mobile telephones. People's reactions to risk depends on their own view of it, not on anything they hear from the government. Trying to make people avoid risk - by wearing seatbelts, for example - can easily backfire as people seek new ways to get back to their normal risk levels.
With Public bugets so tight and negative incentives a concern, government is keen to focus it's help on the most needy, and letting others carry more of their own burden. This may be the start of a third way fore welfare, in which individuals themselves are expected to take on more responsibility for insurable risks,presently covered by the state. There is a 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.
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.
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.