Virus modellers must admit their mistakes and learn from the practice of transparency

By now, we all know about the poor track record of prediction by the academic modelling teams advising the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – Sage. The unreliable nature of economic projections is also evident, as analysis of  the Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF) database shows. Yet the epidemiologists could still  learn from the experience […]

The mountain of debt cannot be ignored no matter how much the economy grows

Politicians and regulators are increasingly concerned about one phenomenon: buy-now-pay-later (BNPL). Nearly a year ago, the government agreed to regulate BNPL lenders, with an independent review chaired by City expert Christopher Woolard warning the sector represented a “significant potential consumer harm”. A Treasury consultation on BNPL only closed at the end of last year. It […]

Lending a hand: government loans to energy firms can’t be the final answer

Some of the media seem to have become addicted to gloom. Most outfits have become cautiously optimistic on Covid-19, but the prospective double squeeze on living standards has rushed in to fill the gap. Consumers are faced with tax increases and sharp rises in energy bills. The surge in the world price of energy means […]

Three Christmas presents for a Cabinet that lacks political grip

At this time of the year hapless members of the Cabinet, and even the Prime Minister himself, are entitled to some charity. We might usefully consider the gifts we would put under their trees on Christmas morning.   Top of the list could well be both a Peloton and a deckchair. Sarah Healey, permanent secretary at […]

Precaution is a useful thing, but designing policy based on maybes is a dangerous road

It is is so familiar, the script almost writes itself. Health professionals start to call for more restrictive measures at the slightest whiff of bad news. The government initially dismisses the concerns. Gradually, ministers – many of them almost wholly innumerate – are beaten into submission by projections of what might happen. If we were […]

Schools across the country have forgotten how to teach kids to aspire to be better

Omicron, the new Covid variant, has had an unexpected victim: the long-awaited White Paper on levelling up. Boris Johnson’s plans to put his 2019 election pledge into reality will not be published until New Year, to give the government more time to focus on containing Covid. The document, set to span industry, skills and transport, […]

Unchallenged inflation will make strike action the norm in a new labour market

Last Friday, London once again muddled through the inconvenience of yet another Tube strike. Another one is planned for the middle of December. They are just as much a feature of the metropolitan scene as Big Ben. Until more of the trains are automated, Tube staff will retain the capacity to cause disruption. But this […]

New winter Covid restrictions would make it official policy to pray for a better day

A trip to the Scottish Highlands is always refreshing. Despite the shortening days, the hills were in perfect late autumn condition. It clears your mind and helps you reflect on what’s not working. This time around, it was more interesting than usual: it illuminated the stark contradictions and hypocrisy of the current Covid regulations, administered […]