Author Archives: Tim Leunig

Opinion: A four runway hub airport?

Flying isn’t something most people do for fun but connections are good for business and prosperity. Thankfully the Committee on Climate Change says that aviation can expand without risking our ambitious climate change targets.

Hub airports are particularly important. They draw in passengers from a range of places, making flights to many destinations viable. The one flight from Wuhan to Europe – to Paris – relies on transfers at Charles de Gaulle. That flight gives Paris a head start in attracting the European HQs of firms from Wuhan. I want …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 80 Comments

Tim Leunig writes… Housing priority Number 1: reversing the rise in the age of first-time buyers

Sir Adrian Montague’s report on housing, published earlier this week, calls for a larger private rented sector. This is a very bad idea because being a private renter is the least popular tenure choice in Britain. Only 2% of people wish to be private renters, compared with 82% who want to own, 14% who want to live in social housing, and 5% in other tenures (see here for details). I bet that Sir Adrian is not a private renter.

The private rented sector has its place, most notably for young people who have yet to settle down. But thanks …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 39 Comments

Opinion: What the Tory backbench rebellion means for parliament

Failing to get reform of the House of Lords through the Commons shows a parliamentary asymmetry. There are enough Tory backbenchers to defeat the government, but not enough Liberal Democrat backbenchers to do so. One party’s backbenchers have de facto veto power, but the other’s do not.

There are three responses to this constitutional oddity.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 18 Comments

Taxpayers’ Alliance report on tax – good in parts

The Taxpayers Alliance and Institute of Directors have just produced a 417 page report on the British Tax System. Some parts are good, some are plain silly.

Let’s get the silliness out of the way first. The report says the tax to GDP ratio should be 33%, and marginal tax rates (including employers’ national insurance) should be no higher than 30%. They believe this will spur growth. The reality – sadly for right-wingers – is that there is little evidence that even French tax rates preclude high levels …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 15 Comments

Opinion: Vince Cable right to abandon penalties on early student loan repayments

Vince Cable has done the right thing, for the right reasons.

The new student loan system requires well off graduates to pay a higher rate of interest on their loans – up to three percent above inflation. This helps to cover the government losses on loans to graduates who end up on low incomes – overwhelmingly women working part time after having children – as well as making the system more progressive.

Cable was worried that well off graduates would pay off their loan early, to avoid paying the interest charges. He commissioned his department to look into creating early repayment …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

Opinion: How we’ve been going wrong for the last 20 years

Social mobility means more than whether people are in the same income group as their parents. It also means that the lives of people “below” look more like those “above” them as time goes on.

Most of the twentieth century saw a clear demarcation between blue and white collar workers. Blue collar workers were paid less, and their lives were much less secure. They were more likely to be on short-term contracts – labourers were often hired by the day. Their work involved a greater risk of injury, and thus loss of work. They were less likely to have unemployment insurance and a company pension. The employment conditions for white collar workers were much more reliable – and that, as much as the difference in income, meant that white collar workers were able to buy a house, giving them a security not enjoyed by blue collar workers.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 17 Comments

Opinion: Education matters in tackling social mobility

Social mobility is core to the Coalition and Nick Clegg personally. It means that your birth plays little or no role in determining your life outcomes. It is the opposite of feudalism. Economic mobility is an important part of social mobility. Where you end up economically is determined by your ability and hard work, for sure, but also by whether you get a good education, good advice, and – for some – by whether you inherit.

Government should concentrate on what it can do, in this case education. Kids from poor backgrounds generally do much worse at school – and so they end up poor later on. Government can improve school results for such kids relative to others: Labour did it – a bit. There is big variation in this across the country, so every local authority except one should be ringing up those who are doing better and learning from them.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 20 Comments
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