The mountain of debt cannot be ignored no matter how much the economy grows

Politicians and regulators are increasingly concerned about one phenomenon: buy-now-pay-later (BNPL). Nearly a year ago, the government agreed to regulate BNPL lenders, with an independent review chaired by City expert Christopher Woolard warning the sector represented a “significant potential consumer harm”. A Treasury consultation on BNPL only closed at the end of last year. It […]

Lending a hand: government loans to energy firms can’t be the final answer

Some of the media seem to have become addicted to gloom. Most outfits have become cautiously optimistic on Covid-19, but the prospective double squeeze on living standards has rushed in to fill the gap. Consumers are faced with tax increases and sharp rises in energy bills. The surge in the world price of energy means […]

Three Christmas presents for a Cabinet that lacks political grip

At this time of the year hapless members of the Cabinet, and even the Prime Minister himself, are entitled to some charity. We might usefully consider the gifts we would put under their trees on Christmas morning.   Top of the list could well be both a Peloton and a deckchair. Sarah Healey, permanent secretary at […]

Precaution is a useful thing, but designing policy based on maybes is a dangerous road

It is is so familiar, the script almost writes itself. Health professionals start to call for more restrictive measures at the slightest whiff of bad news. The government initially dismisses the concerns. Gradually, ministers – many of them almost wholly innumerate – are beaten into submission by projections of what might happen. If we were […]

The impasse on climate change is as clogged up as our petrol-packed roads

Boris Johnson is usually a superb communicator. But after the last few days of the G20 and Cop26, he is not currently on his best of form. First of all, we have the farce of world leaders first gathering in Rome and then flying to Glasgow. For a summit on climate change and curbing emissions. […]

Hikes to national insurance funds a level of public services we can’t afford

The government’s plan to increase National Insurance has sparked the predictable furore.  The pressures to raise taxes to pay for the level of public services the electorate have come to expect is hardly new.  The welfare state was created immediately after the Second World War. For a time, the financial demands were held in check. […]

Embracing uncertainty is the only path out of the pandemic

A few days ago, Sajid Javid made one of the most thoughtful and encouraging statements by a government minister during the whole Covid crisis. Early In July, he seemed to be falling under the control of the modellers. The number of daily infections, he stated confidently, would soon reach 100,000, bowing to the so-called experts. […]