Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Archive for the category “Debt”

Saving, Fridges and Wonga

… more than a quarter of families (26%) are saving nothing each month, and the percentage with no savings cushion has remained static at 17% over the last six months.

It suggests that, while those families who can afford to save are making efforts to put more money away, the situation has shown little sign of improving for those who were already struggling or failing to do so.
Aviva News Website 12 August 2015 : UK: Rising incomes mask growing inequality amongst UK families

So what do these families do if their fridge fails? Read more…

A Rebalanced Economy?

This Government came to power talking about “rebalancing the economy”. I thought this meant a move from volatile financial services back (yes back – it’s not always bad) to more tangible wealth creating sectors such as manufacturing (particular of goods for export – which bring money into the country). The government is beginning to claim a measure of success, so how are they doing? Read more…

Chinese to place nuclear devices around Britain

Brian Wheeler Political reporter, BBC News, asks: Is it a good idea to allow China a stake in UK nuclear? (BBC News Website 17 October 2013).

It is 57 years to the day since the Queen threw a lever to start electricity flowing from the world’s first civil nuclear power plant, at Calder Hall, in Cumbria.

If you had told any of the dignitaries present that day that Britain would one day surrender control of its nuclear industry to foreign powers, losing in the process the ability to build its own reactors, they would have thought you were mad. Read more…

Housing: Boom, Boom, Boom!

I am reminded of a Garland cartoon at the time when Anthony Barber was Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was in the form of a triptych.

  • The first panel showed a cheery chancellor holding up his budget box with the caption “Boom”
  • The second panel showed a cheery chancellor holding up his budget box with the caption “Boom”
  • The third panel showed a dishevelled chancellor holding up a burst budget box with the caption “Boom!”

I fear the current housing boom could go the same way. Read more…

Going in the right direction

Justine Greening has just said (BBC1 Question Time 2 May 2013) that because we have reduced the deficit we are now going in the right direction.

Reducing the deficit means that you are still going in the wrong direction (debt is still increasing) but not as fast! Read more…

Food banks: Big Society in Action or Society in Failure?

The use of food banks (a staple part of America’s “safety net” e.g. Feeding America) are a growing part of our society.

In 2011-12 food banks fed 128,687 people nationwide, in 2012-13 we anticipate this number will rise to over 290,000. Rising costs of food and fuel combined with static income, high unemployment and changes to benefits are causing more and more people to come to food banks for help.

The Trussell Trust partners with churches and communities to open new food banks nationwide. With over 325 food banks currently launched, our goal is for every town to have one. Trussell Trust

The Conservatives, who seem to have a desire to ape so many aspects of “the American System” probably view food banks as welcome evidence of the “Big Society”. Read more…

HS2: throwing away the benefits?

From Updated Economic Case for HS2 (published on http://www.hs2.org.uk)

Table 1 – HS2 Y Network quantified costs and benefits
(£ billions) of HS2 (2011 present value prices) and 
resulting BCR 
1  Transport User Benefits Business              £34.3bn
   Transport User Benefits Other                 £16.7bn
   Transport User Benefits Total                 £51.0bn 
2  Other Quantifiable Benefits                    £1.0bn 
3  Loss to Government of Indirect Taxes          ‐£3.8bn 
4  Net Transport Benefits (PVB)                  £48.2bn 
5  Wider Economic Impacts (WEIs)                 £15.4bn 
6  Net Benefits including WEIs                   £63.6bn 
7  Capital Costs                                 £36.4bn 
8  Operating Costs                               £22.3bn 
9  Total Costs (7+8)                             £58.7bn 
10  Revenues                                     £32.9bn 
11  Net Costs to Government  (PVC) = (9) – (10)  £25.7bn 
12  BCR without WEIs (ratio) = (4)/(11)            1.9 
13  BCR with WEIs (ratio) = (6)/(11)               2.5 
Please note – table totals may not be an exact sum of 
components due to rounding

These figures are all a bit opaque (what is the Internal Rate of Return or what are the annual benefits?), but seem to say that conservatively you can expect to get back £1.90 for every £1.00 spent on the extension of HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds (the Y Network).  If genuine, why the delay in not starting this project until HS2 London to Birmingham is finished?  Read more…

Impoverish the poor or soak the rich?

Suppose you want to raise £1M per week? How might you do it? I suspect the two sides of the coalition will have different views. Read more…

All in this together?

We are meant to be “all in this together” according to our Chancellor who also tells us that we are living beyond our means.  However, what “this” is and how we are “in it together” is open to debate. Read more…

An Englishman’s home is his Castle – or his Jail?

I have been pondering our obsession with ownership of property.

I bought my first home in the early 1980s, it cost me a little over 2½ times my (then low) salary; I had a mortgage of 2½ times my salary with the balance from savings and a small private loan.  Interest rates then jumped to 15%; it hurt but was manageable (just).

Now my current house is worth about 7 times what I might earn in a good year; my mortgage is paid off and I have probably made more from property than I have from saving unspent salary.  By careful trading down, I can probably release a sum that when turned into an annuity, will be worth more than my projected pension. And I live in a low property value area.

But what of someone starting today?  Read more…

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