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UK — Benefits of Investing in Cycling

October 31, 2014 Comments off

Benefits of Investing in Cycling (PDF)
Source: British Cycling

Investing in cycling will generate benefits for the whole country, not just those using a bike to get around. Eleven benefits are summarised here which can help solve a series of health, social and economic problems. This report shows how investing in cycling is good for our transport systems as a whole, for local economies, for social inclusion, and for public health.

Creating a cycling revolution in the UK requires sustained investment. In European countries with high cycling levels, levels of investment are also substantially higher than in the UK. The All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Inquiry has recommended a minimum of £10 annually per person, rising to £20, which would begin to approach the spending levels seen in high-cycling countries.

Investing in cycling will enable transport authorities to start putting in place the infrastructure we need to ensure people of all ages and abilities can choose to cycle for short everyday trips. As well as making cycle journeys more pleasant, safer and faster, it sends the signal that cycling is a normal way to travel. This is important because the perception of cycling as a marginal and minority mode is off-putting to many people.

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Unleashing Metro Growth—What the U.K.’s City Growth Commission Can Teach the U.S.

October 27, 2014 Comments off

Unleashing Metro Growth—What the U.K.’s City Growth Commission Can Teach the U.S.
Source: Brookings Institution

As the United States suffers through the final weeks of a particularly bitter midterm election, something remarkable is happening in the United Kingdom. All three major parties in Britain have concluded that devolving power away from central government and toward metropolitan areas will improve economic growth and government performance. Tory, Lib-Dem, and Labour alike find themselves competing over who can articulate a more complete vision of devolution. It’s enough to make you believe in representative democracy again.

The Royal Society of the Arts’ City Growth Commission has released a well-timed report that explains the need for devolution in the U.K. and creates a blueprint for how to get it done. “The drumbeat of devolution has grown ever louder,” writes Jim O’Neill, chairman of the commission. “Over recent months, the importance of cities in driving growth and prosperity has been increasingly recognized, rising up the political agenda to the highest levels.”

These calls for devolution are long overdue in the U.K., which has one of the most centralized systems of public finance of any major OECD country. Cities lack nearly all of the powers that we take for granted in the United States—they cannot raise their own revenues, they cannot designate funding for specific projects, most don’t even have directly elected mayors. As it stands, taxes are paid overwhelmingly to central government—about 95 percent of all revenue in Britain, compared to about 65 percent in the United States, according to the OECD—and Whitehall then redistributes compartmentalized funding to all of Britain’s cities. This system prevents timely, tailored responses to pressing local issues and eliminates any incentive for innovative local policymaking.

That’s where the City Growth Commission comes in. It details two sets of recommendations: one proposing a specific process of devolution and outlining the specific powers to be devolved; the other detailing how central government can best set the stage for metropolitan success.

What Would Happen If Health Care in the U.S. Improved?

October 23, 2014 Comments off

What Would Happen If Health Care in the U.S. Improved?
Source: Commonwealth Fund

The United States health care system is the most expensive in the world, but the Commonwealth Fund report Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2014 Update: How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally shows the U.S. underperforms relative to 11 other industrialized countries on most dimensions of performance. Use this interactive to see what would happen if the U.S. were to raise its health system performance to the levels achieved elsewhere in the world.

UK — State of the Nation 2014 Report

October 23, 2014 Comments off

State of the Nation 2014 Report
Source: Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, Cabinet Office, Department for Education and Department for Work and Pensions

This is the Commission’s second annual State of the Nation report to be presented to Parliament. The Commission was created by the UK Government in 2012 as an independent and statutory body to monitor and report on what is happening to child poverty and social mobility in our country.

The report assesses what the UK government, the Scottish government and the Welsh government are doing (the Commission’s remit does not cover the Northern Ireland government), what progress is being made, and what is likely to happen in future. The report also examines the role of employers and professions, councils and colleges, schools and universities, parents and charities. The report makes a number of recommendations for action.

This is the last State of the Nation report prior to the 2015 UK General Election. As such it presents a verdict on the past and provides a window into the future. The central conclusion is that the next government will have to adopt radical new approaches if poverty is to be beaten, mobility improved and if Britain is to avoid becoming a permanently divided society. We define that as the 2020 challenge.

Economic & Environmental Impact of Traffic Congestion in Europe & the US

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Economic & Environmental Impact of Traffic Congestion in Europe & the US
Source: Inrix

With people in Europe and the US currently wasting on average 111 hours annually in gridlock, the impact of traffic congestion on individual driver’s time is well understood. However, new research shows traffic congestion actually does much more than test our patience. It’s a significant drain on our wallets as well our economies.

A new report by INRIX in collaboration with one of the world’s leading economic think tanks, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), quantifies the cost of traffic congestion on individual households and national economies in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany. This is the first study of its kind to forecast the projected increases in these costs in these countries and their most congested cities between 2013 and 2030. Driven by urbanization and increased GDP per capita over the next 17 years, a few of the key findings include:

  • The combined annual cost of gridlock to these countries is expected to soar to $293.1 billion by 2030, almost a 50% increase from 2013.
  • Over this period, the cumulative cost of congestion for these economies combined is estimated to be a staggering $4.4 trillion.
  • The overall economic impact is greatest in the U.S. where the estimated cumulative cost of traffic congestion by 2030 is $2.8 trillion – the same amount Americans collectively paid in U.S. taxes last year.
  • However the UK (at 66%) and London (at 71%) will see the greatest annual rise in the cost of congestion by 2030, mainly as a result of seeing the highest increase in urbanization
  • At the individual level, traffic congestion cost drivers $1,740 last year on average across the four countries. If unchecked, this number is expected to grow more than 60% to $2,902 annually by 2030.

Free registration required to download report.

Labor Market Slack in the United Kingdom

October 21, 2014 Comments off

Labor Market Slack in the United Kingdom (PDF)
Source: Peterson Institute for International Economics

This paper examines the amount of slack in the UK labor market and finds the downward adjustments made by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to both unemployment and underemployment invalid. Without evidence to support its assessment of the output gap, the MPC reduces the level of unemployment based on its claim that long-term unemployment does not affect wages. The authors produce evidence to the contrary and present arguments on why the MPC’s halving of the level of underemployment in the United Kingdom is inappropriate. Bell and Blanchflower set out arguments on why they believe the level of slack is greater than the MPC calibrates. Consistent with that is the fact that real wages in the United Kingdom continue to fall.

UK — Women in Whitehall: culture, leadership, talent

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Women in Whitehall: culture, leadership, talent
Source: Cabinet Office

This is the final report of a research project into the blockages facing talented women succeeding in the Senior Civil Service (SCS).

It sets out the opportunity and challenge to unleash the potential of many more staff who want to serve HM Government and our Country.

The report builds on the Interim Report presented to Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, on 23rd April 2014.

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