Summary Home ownership in the UK comes in two main varieties: freehold and leasehold. ‘Freehold’ is ‘home ownership’ in the way most people probably understand that term: undivided, unconditional and permanent ownership. ‘Leasehold’ denotes a more limited form of ownership, which is not permanent (although typically very long-term), and which is shared with an ‘ultimate ... Continue reading
Research
Summary Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, governments have relied heavily on the advice of epidemiologists and health professionals. Unusually, the economics profession has been conspicuous by its low profile in the policy making process. In an IEA paper published in May 2020, I argued that economic advice was an absolutely essential input into successful policy making ... Continue reading
Research

Should the government care?

Summary Self-employed workers have lost out badly during the pandemic. Their numbers have so far fallen more sharply than the numbers of employees. There is evidence that government assistance has been poorly targeted: over half of the self-employed have received no help. The Chancellor has hinted that, in return for the assistance the government has ... Continue reading
Summary This briefing looks at the impact of the pandemic on the UK’s public finances and assesses the scale of the fiscal crisis. Some of the most common concerns are exaggerated. Others are not. The good news is that the increase in borrowing to pay for Covid does not itself have to be repaid; provided ... Continue reading
Research

Averting a post-pandemic staffing crisis in the NHS

Summary Shortages of PPE and ventilators have overshadowed shortages of doctors during the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet when normality returns and the NHS is swamped by a backlog of cases, the latter could be thrust to the forefront of public debate. The UK ranks 27th out of 36 OECD countries for number of physicians. Around 30 ... Continue reading
Research
Entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in boosting progress, productivity and prosperity. They drive economic growth and create new opportunities. Their innovations transform people’s lives. Yet their enormous contribution is not widely understood – and is often completely overlooked in economics textbooks. Here, author Eamonn Butler sets the record straight – explaining the vital role of ... Continue reading
Updated 29th November 2020.   Summary Most COVID-19 infections appear to take place in private households. Less than five per cent of infected individuals contacted by NHS Test and Trace say that they have had close contact with another person in a hospitality venue. Enforced pub closures in Bolton and Leicester have not been associated ... Continue reading
Research
Summary Following the Covid-19 lockdown, the UK labour market faces much higher unemployment and reductions in labour force participation as some groups withdraw from the labour market. Measures such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-employment Income Support Scheme served a useful purpose, but governments cannot keep businesses on life support indefinitely. Job ... Continue reading
Research
Conditions for growth are not a mystery – we have seen them in the UK in the recent past. This paper examines the UK’s historical record, and identifies the best-performing periods in the past 40 years under two criteria: rising real government revenue and rising labour productivity. It then reviews the economic policies which facilitated ... Continue reading
Summary The World Health Organization (WHO) and Public Health England (PHE) have been widely criticised for their response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Serious questions have been asked regarding their competence. As a result, the US government has withdrawn its funding from WHO and the UK government has announced that Public Health England will be disbanded. ... Continue reading