Eamonn Butler tells it like it is to the Mail on Sunday

Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Eamonn Butler, didn't pull any punches over NHS pensions speaking with the Mail on Sunday this week. Discussing the million pound pension pots accumulated by some health bosses Dr. Butler said:

"It is sickening that anyone in the public sector can clock up multimillion-pound pensions and fringe benefits when ordinary people have no hope of saving anything like that amount – particularly with interest rates virtually zero.

"People struggling to look after their families and manage their finances will be justly outraged they are having to pay higher taxes to keep others in retirement luxury.’ Danny Cox, of pensions firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said an NHS pension with a nominal value of £1million would provide the holder with an annual income of £55,000 to £60,000 for life, plus a tax-free lump sum of around £165,000."

The article also appeared on Mail Online and can be viewed here

The Football Supporters’ Federation backs latest ASI report on safe standing

The latest ASI report, Safe Standing: Why it's time to remove the ban, has received further backing from The Football Supporters’ Federation. Peter Daykin of the Football Supporters’ Federation said:

It’s pleasing to see yet more solid research supporting the case for safe standing. It shows once more that lifting the ban on standing areas in England and Wales would be immensely popular.
We fully support the Adam Smith Institute’s call for the Sports Minister to lift the ban on standing areas in the Premier League and Championship – allowing clubs to give football fans what they want and convert existing all-seated areas in safe standing zones, if they wish.
The debate continues to move on, as Celtic have shown what’s possible. The legislation is falling behind the rest of the country and we’d urge the Government to consider the Adam Smith Institute’s report carefully.

Safe Standing report sweeps up in the media and gains support from Andrew Davies MP

The ASI's latest report by Head of Research Ben Southwood has gone down a storm with the media this week. From broadsheet columns to full pages in the red tops, 'Safe Standing: Why it's time to remove the ban' has been widely reported and even gained support from head of the Welsh conservatives, Andrew Davies MP.

The Daily Star reported:

Ticket prices for Premier League clubs could be halved if fans are allowed to stand on the terraces again. It is one of the idea put forward by a Government think tank which wants the game made cheaper for grassroots supporters.
The Adam Smith Institute says a ban on terrace standing brought in after the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989 now "doesn't fit". It believes prices could be cut by as much as 57% with safe standing.

The Sun reported:

The cost of watching top flight football could more than halve if terraces come back in, a report says today. It called for ministers to end the all-seater ban and bring in "safe standing".
A think tank analysed prices against European clubs which permit standing and predicted fans at all 20 premier league clubs would enjoy "serious" savings if allowed to do the same.  

The Times reported:

The introduction of safe standing at Premier League football clubs would improve the atmosphere at matches and cut some season ticket prices by more than half, a think tank has said.
The report by the Adam Smith Institute calls on the government to repeal the ban on standing after the Hillsborough inquest concluded that police errors, not fans on terraces, were responsible for the deaths of 96 supporters.

City AM reported:

Sports minister Tracey Crouch is under pressure on the eve of the new Premier League season to allow England's top clubs to reintroduce standing at matches. A report published today by think tank the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) says the use of "safe standing" sections is backed by most top-flight teams and the majority of fans.

Ben wrote for City AM:

It might have made sense to restrict standing in 1989, when its safety was unproven, but it doesn't now. Sweden, Austria, Germany and other sports show that it can be safe. Inquests show us it was not to blame for past tragedies.
It could cut ticket prices and improve atmosphere at games. And politically it's an easy step. Crouch: it's an open goal.   

The i reported: 

The ban on standing terraces in the Premier League should be overturned to help bring down ticket prices, ministers have been urged. The Adam Smith Institute has called for the reintroduction of some standing in football stadiums, citing support from fans and the potential to offer cheaper tickets.

Andrew Davies MP wrote for Conservative Home:

This week the Adam Smith Institute published a report calling for the UK government to allow safe standing in football grounds. It follows the recent inquest’s conclusion that it was police errors, not standing fans, that were responsible for the tragedy at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989.
No official report has ever concluded that standing is inherently unsafe. If it were, then fans of rugby, horse racing or boxing would be subjected to the same ban imposed on football supporters. No, the standing ban is a legacy of a different era and whilst football supporters have moved on – most of our politicians refuse to.

Ben Southwood also appeared on Share Radio and Talk Sport to discuss the paper.


New paper from the Adam Smith Institute argues the case for reinstating standing sections in football stadia following Hillsborough inquiry completion

  • The UK ban on standing in top tier football clubs should be repealed
  • Dozens of polls show up to 92% of fans support introduction of safe standing
  • 19 out of 20 Premier League clubs support safe standing
  • Safe standing implemented successfully across Europe, and at Celtic FC in Scotland
  • Cheapest ticket prices could fall by up to 57%, shaving £500 off an Arsenal season ticket

A new paper published today by the Adam Smith Institute calls on the government to allow safe standing in football stadiums, following the recent inquest’s conclusion that it was police errors, not standing fans, that were responsible for the Hillsborough tragedy.
The report reveals that safe standing is overwhelmingly supported by fans, hitting 92% in favour in Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) polls, with the large majority citing cheaper ticket prices and improved atmosphere.

And it’s not just the fans who want to stand, 19 out of 20 Premier League clubs favour offering safe standing but are restricted by the Dept for Culture Media and Sport, who exercised a power under 1989 Football Spectators Act to require football clubs to offer only seated areas.
The Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Tracey Crouch, has the power to change this regulation and allow safe standing, seen successfully implemented in many European clubs, British sports such as rugby and horse racing, and in lower tiers of British football. The report notes that, of all recorded stadium disasters from the last 20 years, none have been related to safe standing, and several have even occurred in seated stadia.

Safe standing could, the report argues, increase capacity and widen the ticket prices on offer, leaving fewer fans missing out of the big games and improving access for lower income fans. 

European clubs with standing sections have much more varied ticket prices and, the paper estimates, following suit in the UK could cut the the cost of the cheapest tickets by up to 57%. With more than a £500 saving on an Arsenal season ticket, £438 off a Chelsea season ticket and £250 off at Crystal Palace, that’s serious savings for devoted fans. 

Table 1:

Data Source: BBC Price of Football 2015 survey, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34507719

Removable alternatives to standard seats such as rail and clip on seats have been used successfully in countries such as Austria, Sweden and Germany and provide flexibility. Following a relaxation by the Scottish Premier League, Celtic has introduced rail seating for 3,000 spectators in 2016-17 season - the first formal standing in top division British football for decades.

In light of the Hillsborough inquest findings, Tracey Crouch and the government should consider lifting the standing ban and allowing the introduction of limited safe standing areas, delighting fans and clubs alike.

The report’s author Ben Southwood, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute, said: 

“The standing ban is an anachronism: clubs across Europe have rail seating sections with no incident, creating superior atmosphere and allowing for a cheaper tier of tickets. Just look at Dortmund’s üdtribüne!

“Unlike the adversarial attitude police, club organisation and fans had during the dark days of the 80s, we now know how to manage large crowds well. The ban doesn’t fit. Tracey Crouch doesn’t need to pass a law, she has the power to simply undo the prohibition on safe standing—and she should."

Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

The report “Safe Standing: Why it’s time to remove the ban” will be live on the Adam Smith Institute website from 09:00 11th August 2016 and can be accessed ahead of time here.

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

Bank of England's boldness a good thing - Adam Smith Institute's Sam Bowman reacts to easing of monetary policy

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, commented on the Bank of England's latest announcement that they are to ease monetary policy. He said:

“The Bank of England has done the right thing in cutting rates and starting a large quantitative easing programme. The short-term risks of Brexit must not be compounded by tight money, and with inflation rates already near zero there is little risk of excess inflation.
“Some will worry that this will hurt savers. This is mistaken: savers suffer when the economy is weak and benefit when it is strong, and tight money at a time of weak economic growth would threaten to make things worse for everyone. Monetary policy is not a zero-sum game: when central banks cut rates to raise inflation they often drive market interest rates up, because that extra inflation boosts the economy overall.
“It’s also welcome news that the Bank no longer expects Brexit to cause a recession. The government should take heed of the Bank’s boldness today and consider similar boldness in tax and land-use planning reform, to help the economy grow strongly over the coming years.”

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

New report on Bank of England stress testing receives blanket coverage

A new report by Kevin Dowd, No Stress II: the flaws in the Bank of England’s stress testing programme, has received blanket national and regional coverage this week achieving 450 articles and broadcast interviews in total.

The Metro ran it as their front page story:

British banks are at risk of collapse as they 'sail blindly' into a new financial crisis worse than 2008, a top think tank warns in a report today.
Lenders are woefully ill-prepared for a growing economic storm in Europe, the Adam Smith Institute claims. Taxpayers may once again have to foot the bill because the Bank of England is 'asleep at the wheel', with it's checks on the sector's ability to cope with shocks dubbed 'worse than useless'. 

The Guardian reported:

The Bank of England will conduct its own industry assessment later this year, which prompted the Adam Smith Institute - a free market think tank - to publish a report  calling for the 'worse than useless' stress tests to be abandoned unless changes can be made.
Kevin Dowd, professor of finance and economics at Durham University and author of the report, said: "As the EU banking system goes into a renewed crisis, the UK banking system is in no fit state to withstand the storm." 

The Sun reported:

Britain's banks risk collapse in a second global financial crisis, a think tank has warned. The Adam Smith Institute claims their inability to cope with economic upheaval would see taxpayers hit for a bigger bail out than in 2008.

The Daily Mirror reported:

The Bank of England has been slammed for 'falling asleep at the wheel' in the face of a looming financial crisis.
It's stress tests to gauge the health of UK banks are 'worse than useless', says a damning report from the Adam Smith Institute. It claims every UK bank would fail more rigorous tests imposed by the Federal Reserve.

City AM reported:

The Bank of England's stress testing regime is 'worse than useless' according to a new report from free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute.
The tests gave the UK's banking system a clean bill of health in 2015, but the think tank argues that the regime is riven with fundamental flaws.  

I News reported:

A study by the Adam Smith Institute said the Bank's stress tests are like 'a ridiculously easy exam with a ludicrously low pass rate', which disguises the ability of UK banks to cope with an economic blow on the scale of the financial crisis of 2008.

The Daily Express reported:

In a major wake-up call to ailing Mark Carney and his beleaguered Bank of England, the Adam Smith Institute said the Bank was “sailing blindly” into a second global financial crisis.
It warned taxpayers could be forced to bail out British banks yet again as the Bank’s stress tests - used to measure robustness - are "worse than useless" and would buckle under the strain of a major economic shock.

The Mail Online reported:

The Adam Smith Institute claimed that the Bank of England’s stress tests are ‘worse than useless’ and that the UK is ‘sailing blindly into a second global financial crisis’.
The economic policy think-tank analysed the stress tests carried out by the Bank of England to assess how well UK banks would be able to weather economic storms.

Kevin Dowd appeared on Share Radio, BBC Scotland, with Ian King Live on Sky to discuss the paper which was also covered by Eamonn Holmes on Sky Sunrise, Sky and BBC paper reviews, and across a host of BBC regional radio stations.

The story also ran in over 350 regional papers and radio stations. 

Stress testing failures at the Bank of England disguise chronic weakness

New report from the Adam Smith Institute lampoons Bank of England’s ‘worse than useless’ stress tests that disguise the chronic weakness of the UK banking system

  • Bank of England’s stress test ‘worse than useless’
  • Every single UK bank would fail the more rigorous stress tests of the Federal Reserve
  • UK sailing blindly into a second global financial crisis
  • Stress testing must be abolished and decision-makers made personally liable for risks

A new report released this morning from the Adam Smith Institute suggests that the UK banking system is still in poor financial shape and that the Bank of England’s stress tests merely disguise that reality.
The report, “No Stress II: the flaws in the Bank of England’s stress testing programme”, challenges the stress tests carried out by the Bank of England to assess the financial resilience of UK banks, and refutes their claim that major UK banks could withstand another big shock.
The report's release comes as Europe faces a renewed banking crisis. There is already a major crisis in Italy and mounting concerns about Deutsche Bank, the biggest bank in Europe and recently described by the International Monetary Fund as the most systemically dangerous bank in the world.

The UK banking system is not much stronger. Current Bank of England stress tests are like a ridiculously easy exam with a ludicrously low pass standard. If you increase the pass standard to something reasonable, like that used by the Federal Reserve, then every single major bank in the UK would fail.
The report indicates no less than 13 fatal flaws in the stress tests, most of which cannot be fixed. It argues that stress testing methodology is completely compromised: it purports to be able to identify bank vulnerabilities, but there has never been a single case where stress tests were able to identify vulnerabilities in advance and fix them accordingly.
This was seen in Iceland, Ireland, Cyprus and Greece - entire national banking systems signed off as sound by stress tests, only to collapse shortly afterwards.

The report’s author Kevin Dowd, professor of finance and economics at Durham University, said: 
"The purpose of the stress-testing programme should be to highlight the vulnerability of our banking system and the need to rebuild it. Instead, it has achieved the exact opposite, portraying a weak banking system as strong. This is like having a ship radar system that cannot detect an iceberg in plain view.

“As the EU banking system goes into a renewed crisis, the UK banking system is in no fit state to withstand the storm. Once contagion spreads from Italy to Germany and then to the UK, we will have a new banking crisis but on a much grander scale than ’07-‘08.
“The Bank of England is asleep at the wheel again, and we will be back to beleaguered banksters begging for bailouts – and the taxpayer will be ripped off yet again, but bigger this time."

Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

The report “No Stress II: the flaws in the Bank of England’s stress testing programme” will be live on the Adam Smith Institute website from 09:00 3rd August 2016 and can be accessed ahead of time here.

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

'The Case for the (Interim) EEA Option' gets pick up in the Daily Express and Wall Street Journal

The ASI's latest paper 'The Case for the (Interim) EEA Option' has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Daily Express this morning. The new collaborative report promotes the EEA option as a short to medium term strategy for Brexit.

The Daily Express reported:

A report by the Adam Smith Institute, put together by both Leave and Remain campaigners, has said the only way Britain can successfully exit the 28-country bloc is to choose the ‘Norway option’ - quit the EU but stay in the European Economic Area (EEA). 
This option, while acknowledged as something of a compromise and not a full Leave, would allow the UK to keep control of its borders while still enjoying trade agreements, in the years before a long-term economic deal can be reached with the EU. 
The report said "the only way is EEA", explaining remaining in the economic club would be the best of both world’s for post-Brexit Britain. 

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Some trade experts also think Mr. Davis's optimism that trade deals can be easily reached relies on assuming trade is mostly about manufactured goods.
"It doesn't appreciate the importance of services to the U.K. and of regulatory barriers" said Sam Bowman of the free-market Adam Smith Institute in London. "It's like tariffs are all the matter."

EEASE US OUT OF THE EU - Why the only way is EEA for a post Brexit Britain

Today a new briefing paper released by the Adam Smith Institute lays out the core arguments for why the EEA option is the best exit strategy for Britain.

The paper covers twenty-one key points explaining why the EEA option is favourable in the short to medium term. Key among these are getting a deal that will keep Scotland and Northern Ireland in the Union, staying in the Single Market to avoid economic damage during Britain’s exit, and securing a deal that a large majority of Britons would support.

The paper, a collaborative effort by Leavers and Remainers including Adam Smith Institute Fellow Roland Smith and Executive Director Sam Bowman, is clear in stating that joining the European Economic Area is a method of leaving the EU, and is not a version of remaining. Participation in the EEA outside the EU would however be a compromise position for the short/medium term with a scheduled time limit for review – but crucially it would mean that Britain leaves the EU.

The EEA Option is one currently held by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It involves participation in the Single Market but from a position outside the EU. EEA countries have a market-based relationship with the EU but are free of the EU’s political ambitions, and are outside the ‘Common’ policies: Common Agricultural Policy, Common Fisheries Policy, Common Foreign and Defence Policy, and Justice & Home Affairs measures, yet maintain so-called passporting rights for financial services companies along with continued participation in some useful science and education programmes.

The EEA Option opens up the ability to make trade agreements with third countries, providing the UK with the freedom to set its own levels of VAT and to step away from its joint liability of EU debts. It maintains the free movement of goods, capital, services and people with the rest of the EU, all of which are in Britain’s long-term interests, but could also give the UK safeguards on free movement, something David Cameron attempted to win during his renegotiation but failed to do.

The paper comes as Britain’s new government tries to firm up a negotiating position on Brexit, and the Prime Minister has vowed to secure a deal acceptable to the whole UK, including Scotland. The authors believe that the EEA Option would square the Brexit circle, getting us a safe and secure exit that keeps Britain united.

Co-author of the report, and Adam Smith Institute fellow, Roland Smith said:

“The EEA option starts from a very liberal, cooperative agenda that is practical and realistic, and evolves the UK away from the European Union. This first step of staying in the EEA but giving up EU membership will be part of an ongoing evolutionary process to disentangle the UK from the EU - a process that ultimately promises a reinvigoration of Britain as a global player and a re-maturing of Britain’s democracy. And all the while, maintaining the very open trade and free exchange we have with our nearest neighbours and friends.”

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, said:

“Brexiteers won the referendum but now is the time for everyone to come together to get the best possible Brexit. A bespoke deal probably isn’t possible within a two-year negotiating period, and it is crucial that British firms retain access to the Single Market on the same terms that they currently do – that means keeping down regulatory barriers as well as tariff barriers, since so much of our trade involves services. The EEA Option will make Brexit safe and stable, and keep Scotland on board as the Prime Minister has promised.”


Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

The report ‘The Case for the (Interim) EEA Option’ will be live on the Adam Smith Institute website from 00:01 20th July 2016. And can be viewed here

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

New paper 'Rebooting Britain' bolstered by widespread national media coverage

Dr Madsen Pirie's latest paper, Rebooting Britain: Making the most of Brexit, was released this morning to widespread media coverage. The Telegraph ran it on the front page of their business section, the Guardian included in their front page story, and the paper also appeared in print across The Times, City AM and the Daily Mail. 

The Telegraph reported:

Politicians should use Brexit as a chance to “reboot Britain”, scrapping corporation tax and reforming swathes of government in an effort to reignite the economy, a think tank has recommended.
Madsen Pirie, president of the Adam Smith Institute, said that leaving the European Union provided “a unique chance of the sort that occurs perhaps once in a generation”.
He identified tax as one area where policy has evolved “from accidents and incidents rather than from design”  and proposed sweeping  reforms, including the elimination of corporation tax.

The Daily Mail reported:

Britain should slash corporation tax to zero to reboot the economy after Brexit, according to a think tank. Corporation tax was reduced from 28pc to 20pc by former Chancellor George Osborne who, following the referendum, said it should be cut to 15pc to boost business.
But the Adam Smith Institute is calling for it to be cut to 12.5pc, then 6.25pc, before finally being abolished. Corporation tax is paid by businesses on the profits they make but many large multinational companies are able to avoid it. Critics also argue that the tax pushes up prices and eats into wages.

The Times reported:

The government should abolish corporation tax, inheritance tax and capital gains tax, make all schools independent from the state, legalise drugs and rescind the law that protects green-belt land, a free-market think tank has suggested. 
Brexit should be seen as a chance to "reboot Britain" with a series of radical changes to government policy in an attempt to solve many of the UK's longstanding problems, a report from the Adam Smith Institute said. 

City AM reported:

A controversial free-market think tank says that Britain must slash corporation tax to zero, scrap farmers' subsidies and encourage immigration if the UK is to make a success of leaving the European Union.
A new report from the Adam Smith Institute argued that the Brexit vote is a chance to “reboot” Britain, and tackle long-standing issues. And chief among the recommendations is an end to corporation tax, currently set at 20 per cent.

The Guardian reported:

Matt Whittaker, chief economist at the Resolution Foundation, said that if the IMF forecast were right, the UK economy would be £21bn smaller than thought: “A £21bn [cut] in the … economy alone would reduce the tax take by £150m a week.”
The Adam Smith Institute said the “rebooting” of the economy after Brexit should include the scrapping of corporation tax, abolition of subsidies for farmers, and protection of Britain’s fishing waters.