Localism and the Big Society

The coalition plans to reinvigorate local political leadership in major cities with elected mayors. Will local electorates say “Yes” this time?

Directly electing mayors on the London model is back on the political agenda. Eleven core English cities will be voting in May 2012 to decide whether they want to have one. These votes may radically increase the number of elected mayors and set city government decisively on a new path. But there may be fierce resistance may from local politicians […]

In unequal Britain who you are is much more important than where you live in determining earnings.

Average earnings vary widely across the regions of Britain, a fact that has prompted many decades of policies aimed at reducing regional disparities. But as Henry Overman and Steve Gibbons demonstrate, such variation reveals little, especially if we ignore regional differences in the cost of living and availability of local amenities.

International comparisons can provide useful pointers towards a sustainable private rented sector in England

The proportion of English homes rented privately has nearly doubled in the last 20 years, while the home ownership rate has fallen.  Even so, it’s far more common for middle-income families to live in rented housing in many European countries.  What accounts for the difference? Is it just cultural? Kath Scanlon discusses some of the lessons that can be drawn […]

We need hundreds of thousands of new homes in Britain. But in its present form, the government’s proposed new planning framework is not likely to deliver them.

We have far too few homes in Britain, and this drives house prices upwards. Even the recent collapse in mortgage availability has done little to drive prices down substantially, especially when compared to the US. Tim Leunig examines the government’s new planning proposals and finds that rather than promoting the building of new homes in areas that need them, it […]

The government’s planned National Planning Policy Framework is a step in the right direction, but policy makers must ensure they get the incentives right, and that decisions are made locally.

The consultation period for the government’s draft National Planning Policy Framework ends today. LSE London recently held a planning roundtable discussion of 15 academics from a range of social science disciplines to discuss the reforms and try to clarify its objectives. While broadly agreeing with the objectives of the reform, the planning roundtable found that the incentives they provide may often not […]

Electing mayors for more English cities would increase local democratic accountability and widen political participation. But the government must grant them real power and freedom

England’s  biggest cities will soon vote on whether or not they want to be run by directly elected mayors. The Institute for Government’s Sam Sims argues that mayoral governance offers significant benefits, but the centre must give mayors real power if the government is to achieve its decentralisation ambitions.

George Osborne’s council tax freeze is playing games with spending, and will damage growth

One of the key points of George Osborne’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference today was his announcement of a further council tax Freeze. The Social Market Foundation’s, Ian Mulheirn finds that while it may make Osborne more popular, the move is effectively a further public spending cut.

Council Tax Benefit reforms will pitch young against old, as well as poor against poor

One of the proposed reforms of the welfare system is moving the responsibility for Council Tax Benefit to local authorities. However, central government has included a number of stipulations that local authorities must obey that will affect their abilities to run benefits. Craig Berry and David Sinclair discuss how one such stipulation will affect working age recipients most acutely.