Changing the childcare regulations

Last week, I was struck by the debate about the government’s proposals to change the regulations regarding childcare providers.  The government claimed that childcare was too expensive and that parents were being dissuaded from working because of the cost of childcare.  With the average cost of full-time childcare for the under-fives being around £100 per week, there does indeed appear to be little incentive for families with two pre-school children to consider work unless the parent concerned could earn considerably… Continue reading

Do employers provide enough training?

On Tuesday evening, I was at an interesting meeting organised by the NE branch of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD).  The subject was the Skills Agenda and Manufacturing with a particular focus on a recent initiative, Talent Retention Solutions, which has been set up by a group of senior industry leaders in advanced manufacturing and engineering (AME) “to facilitate the deployment and retention of key AME skills across the UK”.  Much of the discussion was concerned… Continue reading

Help to get young people on the housing ladder?

The Liberal Democrats have recently floated the idea that parents or grandparents should be allowed to use part of their pension pot (the 25% that can be taken as a tax-free lump sum) to guarantee part of the deposit needed by their children. ( Most of the comments on this proposal have focused on the potentially adverse effect on retirement incomes and this is obviously an issue – particularly if defaults on the mortgage by the children leave… Continue reading

Joseph Rowntree Foundation publishes research on the role of aspirations in closing the gap in educational achievement

Researchers don’t always see their work getting maximum publicity but recent work I did with the University of Newcastle as part of a large programme of work  funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has just been published. 

It’s widely assumed that raising aspirations, improving attitudes towards schooling  and preventing disengaging behaviours - attitudes, aspirations and behaviours (AABs) - will increase educational achievement – particularly amongst children from low income households.  The JRF has funded a number of pieces of research to explore this… Continue reading

Development in the UAE

I’m just back from the UAE again, having learnt more about their economic and social development.  There was a fascinating exhibition at Dubai International Airport celebrating fifty years of aviation in Dubai.  One of the interesting things about this exhibition was that it showed that the big plans for the development of Dubai pre-date the great oil wealth.  Historically, Dubai was a trading port (using the creek to good effect) and was also famous for its pearl fishing industry.  When… Continue reading

What do economists do?

Since the start of the current recession, the information that I’m an economist usually leads people to ask what I think of the economic situation.  As my friends and acquaintances know, it’s not hard to get me to voice an opinion but after a few remarks, I generally say that this isn’t an area of much professional interest to me – a statement greeted with some surprise.  “Well, what do you do then?” 

I work in the general area of… Continue reading

Back in the office

I’m now back from a hectic and interesting trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  I was fortunate enough to have the Embassy make introductions for me to a number of government ministries and agencies so I was able to meet a cross-section of interesting people actively engaged in the social development of the UAE.  They had a number of concerns that are really interesting to me: limited availability of data to make good policy decisions; designing policy to protect vulnerable… Continue reading

On the move

I’m starting my blog with a short post from the plane carrying me on a trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi but not, as you may think, to sun myself on the beach or even to watch the cricket.  The UAE are actively developing their social sector activities and I’m going to see what they are doing.  I’m also planning to visit the ArabHealth Conference in Dubai which is one of the biggest showcases for health suppliers.  So there will… Continue reading

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