Michael Simmons

Michael Simmons

Michael Simmons is The Spectator's Data Editor

Public sector pay pushes wage growth to record high

Public sector pay growth has jumped 9.6 per cent, the fastest rate since current records began 22 years ago. Private sector wage growth, meanwhile, is slightly more modest at 7.9 per cent. The NHS bonus – a one-off payment of between £1,650 and £3,500 given in June – helped lift overall wages up by 8.2

Rishi’s target creeps away as NHS backlog climbs

Yet another of Rishi Sunak’s five targets looks to have slipped out of reach. Waiting lists for NHS treatment in England have climbed to another record high and now stand just shy of 7.6 million. There was a slight improvement for the longest waits: those waiting more than a year dropped slightly but still stand

If Rishi halves inflation, will you feel richer?

14 min listen

Rishi Sunak is likely to hit his target of halving inflation by the end of the year, according to the latest Bank of England forecasts. But is that enough to make people feel better off, and will the Tories reap any political benefits for doing it? Cindy Yu speaks to Katy Balls and Michael Simmons.

Seven graphs that show the challenge for the Tories at the election

The Tories have avoided total wipeout in last night’s triple by-election. Rishi Sunak dodged the embarrassment of becoming the first Prime Minister in 50 years to lose three by-elections in a single day. While the Lib Dems won Somerton and Frome and Labour secured victory in Selby and Ainsty, the Conservative candidate in Uxbridge, Steve Tuckwell,

Sunak’s debt target is slipping out of reach

Threadneedle Street will have all the economic limelight this week as the Bank of England sets interest rates tomorrow. With this morning’s grim inflation update, a rate rise looks all but certain. But this morning, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released an update on Rishi Sunak’s third pledge: to get debt falling. The figures

Record pay deals will worry the Bank of England

Wages are slowly closing the gap with inflation, up 7.2 per cent in the year to April versus inflation of 8.7 per cent. It adds up to a real-terms decrease. It’s the 18th real-terms fall in a row – though the fastest nominal rise on record outside the pandemic. The new minimum wage (up nearly

Rishi Sunak needs to do more to stop the boats

Is Rishi Sunak stopping the boats? He’d certainly like us to think so. He spent much of yesterday in Dover parading the news revealed on The Spectator data hub last week that small boats crossing the Channel were down a fifth compared with the same time last year. By the end of May, the Ministry of Defence

Britain’s economy is struggling with so many off sick

One of the UK’s biggest economic problems is having so many people out of work – and the slowest return to pre-pandemic workforce levels in Europe. This is costly and slows growth, as taxpayers foot the bill for benefits while employers struggle to fill vacancies. Today’s figures show that it is getting better – but

How useful is a Twitter blue tick?

Alex Salmond was one of the first to fall victim to Twitter’s blue tick cull. An account with the same name as his began sending out disparaging tweets about his sub-optimal bowel movements. The account was tweeting shortly after Elon Musk removed 400,000 ‘legacy verified’ blue ticks, little badges that sit next to a user’s

Coffee House Scots: can Humza save the SNP after treasurer’s arrest?

10 min listen

The arrest of the SNP’s treasurer Colin Beattie in relation to the probe into the party’s finances has overshadowed Humza Yousaf’s relaunch speech scheduled for today. Beattie has been taken into custody two weeks after Peter Murrell, the SNP’s chief executive, was questioned by police regarding loans made in June 2021. Can Yousaf distance himself

Michael Simmons

Is Britain getting back to work?

The UK’s labour market is cooling down, slowly. Although unemployment rose from 3.7 per cent to 3.8 per cent, figures published by the Office for National Statistics this morning show that job vacancies have fallen for the ninth consecutive period. They’re now down 47,000 but still stand at over a million. The number of people

Is Labour using Dominic Cummings’s tactics?

10 min listen

Today Keir Starmer has doubled down on Labour Party adverts attacking the Conservative’s record on crime, and which seemingly accuse Rishi Sunak of not caring about child sex abuse. But is everyone in the party willing to play hardball? Or have the adverts highlighted divisions between senior Labour MPs?  Also on the podcast, after Peter

Coffee House Scots: Humza wins – what’s next?

11 min listen

Humza Yousaf has been announced as the new leader of the SNP after a narrow victory over second placed Kate Forbes. What will this mean for the cause of Scottish independence? Katy Balls speaks to Michael Simmons, Stephen Daisley and Fraser Nelson.  Produced by Oscar Edmondson.

Michael Simmons

Ten yardsticks to judge Humza Yousaf by as first minister

Humza Yousaf is the new leader of the SNP and in the coming days will be sworn in at the Court of Session in Edinburgh as the county’s sixth first minister. He inherits a bickering party and almost a decade of electoral stalemate over independence. It is far from clear what legacy his predecessor leaves in her

Ghost children: the pupils who never came back after lockdown

33 min listen

This week: In her cover piece for The Spectator, Harriet Sergeant asks what’s happened pupil absence which has increased since the pandemic. She is joined by The Spectator’s data editor Michael Simmons to account for the staggering number of children who were failed by the government’s Covid response (01:08). Also this week: Owen Matthews, The Spectator’s Russia correspondent, looks at

Should the SNP be worried about falling membership?

12 min listen

The SNP has confirmed that its membership has fallen to 72,000 – a loss of over 30,000 since 2021. This has prompted an open letter from leadership candidates Kate Forbes and Ash Regan, calling for transparency when it comes to membership numbers. Why are so many leaving?  Also on the podcast, Humza Yousaf has committed

The Budget in twelve graphs

Jeremy Hunt has just delivered his second Budget as Chancellor. The top message the Chancellor wants to push is that Britain will avoid recession. But the Office for Budget Responsibility’s report suggests immigration may be the real story. Among the policy announcements were an extension to the energy price guarantee, currently at £2,500, to July (effectively

Sweden, Covid and ‘excess deaths’: a look at the data

Pandemics kill people in two ways, said Chris Whitty at the start of the Covid outbreak: directly and indirectly, via disruption. He was making the case for caution amidst strong public demand for lockdown, stressing the tradeoffs. While Covid deaths were counted daily, the longer-term effects would take years to come through. The only real