Patrick Nolan

Why infrastructure isn’t a magic tonic for the economy

Growth plans are a high growth industry — with every day bringing yet another set of ideas, from one quarter or another, for how the government can fix the economy. And one suggestion pops up quite frequently in all these plans: bring forward spending on infrastructure. This is often presented as a simple thing to

Giving up before the race has begun?

How will history judge George Osborne’s second Budget? Once the headline writers have moved on to the next story and the longer-term consequences of the measures become apparent, will this budget be seen as doing the right thing? Unfortunately the answer is, at best, “not really.”   By sticking to the target of eliminating the

Here’s how Osborne should reduce the tax gap

Some commentators have argued that the right way to reduce the deficit is to take on large scale tax avoidance rather than public spending. The argument goes that large companies are shirking their responsibilities, while families and small businesses carry the burden of rescuing the public finances.  Yet the evidence on who is actually avoiding

Reforming welfare: a mixed bag

Last week, Reform published its 2011 scorecard of the coalition government’s public service reform programme. Yesterday, Thomas Cawston explained how the coalition can get NHS reforms back on track. Today, Patrick Nolan, Chief Economist at Reform, discusses why the government’s welfare reforms scraped through with a pass. The government’s welfare reforms are significant. The 2010

Now is the time for reform

Throughout the country debates on the spending review have begun in earnest. Some of the most important questions in these debates will centre around the economics of consolidation, as I discussed on a recent radio show containing Professor Joseph Stiglitz. I also set out to discuss these issues at the launch of the Orwell Prize.

Doing things right, but in the wrong way

In today’s spending review, George Osborne was absolutely right to hold the line on eliminating the structural deficit within one parliamentary term. In the Emergency Budget released earlier this year the coalition won fiscal credibility (and breathing space from international financial markets) by setting that goal. Failing to follow through on this goal at the

What should the Chancellor do in the Spending Review?

With this autumn’s Spending Review set to be one of the most important moments in the life of the Coalition Government, Reform has linked up The Spectator’s Coffee House blog to ask what could – and should – be in the final document. This post and all previous posts have been collected in a report

The welfare money-go-round

Next week’s spending review will involve hard decisions. Hundreds of thousands of jobs will go. People in work will find employment conditions less generous with, for example, greater contributions required for their pensions. People out of work will find benefits provide less assistance and be under greater pressure to return to work. Goods in shops

Taking stock of the coalition’s first 100 days

While the milestone of 100 days is not new – US presidents are still measured against the progress made in 100 days by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933 –  it is important. A poor start can create the impression of a government of novices. A good one can provide a new government with critical momentum.

Conquering the welfare Leviathan

Among the biggest of challenges facing the new government is the need to make welfare more affordable while continuing to support people in need. There is a strong case for lowering the welfare bill. At around £200 billion the government spends more on welfare than anything else. Spending on pension benefits alone is £77 billion

Back into the black

George Osborne has an historic opportunity to begin to turn the UK’s public finances back into the black. As Reform noted in an alternative budget released last week, while this will require making the toughest spending choices for a generation, history will smile on him if he does this in the right way. What the

Spending cuts must start with welfare

The new and independent Office for Budget Responsibility estimated that interest payments on public debt are set to rise to £67 billion a year by 2014-15. The hole in the public finances is so deep that every cut in spending that can be made should be made. Few commentators have grasped that tinkering around the

This budget penalises employment

Supporting jobs and small businesses – “the backbone of future economic growth”, in Alistair Darling’s words – was seen as a priority in today’s Budget. In his statement the Chancellor highlighted the following measures: •         Extending the young person’s guarantee for one year after March 2011 (providing a job, training or work experience for young

Reforming maternity pay

While it is widely accepted that the costs of family breakdown are significant, there is less agreement on policy options to support families. Pete Hoskin set out arguments against a simplistic subsidy approach earlier today. Putting together ideas that work is made even harder by the catastrophic state of the government’s books. New policies should