The new northern powerhouse – the home counties and Oxford | Letters

Guardian readers on the economic divisions facing Britain

Before anyone leaps with joy at the commercial prospects of the Oxford-Cambridge sprawl belt (Hammond urged to invest £7bn in transport links for new towns, 17 November), they should read Larry Elliott’s bleak exposition of the two nations we have become (No wonder the north is angry. Here’s a plan to bridge the bitter Brexit divide, 17 November). It’s curious how the greenfield sprawl lobby has always been obsessed with the northern home counties and south-east Midlands. Andrew Adonis’s enthusiasm for the Oxford-Cambridge axis is only the latest chapter in a saga stretching back to Letchworth Garden City in Edwardian times.

Low-density greenfield development is highly profitable for developers and really good at increasing traffic and greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also proved good at dragging wealth out of places that desperately need it to regions which lack the housing to support population growth. Backing economic “winners” just perpetuates an endless spiral of housebuilding, roadbuilding and destruction of our precious farmland. It also exacerbates the dangerous divide between rich and poor regions.
Jon Reeds
Smart Growth UK

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Joseph Stiglitz: Trump has ‘fascist’ tendencies – video

The economist and and author of Globalisation and its Discontents talks to the Guardian’s Larry Elliott about why he considers Donald Trump unfit to be US president. He says stagnant incomes, the opioid crisis and falling life expectancies all pointed towards a political problem in the US but no one imagined it leading to a Trump presidency

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Poor productivity outside south-east England hurting UK economy

Worker output in London and satellite cities far outweighs that in places such as Stoke and Doncaster, says Centre for Cities thinktank

Britain’s economy would be more than £200bn bigger if all cities were as productive as those in London and the south-east, research from a thinktank has shown.

A report by the Centre for Cities revealed that the capital and its satellite cities were as productive as anywhere in Europe and that the UK’s recent weak productivity record was the result of a huge performance gap with other parts of the country.

Related: How UK cities compare for population, jobs, new businesses and house prices

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We should all be working a four-day week. Here’s why | Owen Jones

Ending life-sapping excessive hours was a pioneering demand for the labour movement. For the sake of our health and the economy we need to revisit it

Imagine there was a single policy that would slash unemployment and underemployment, tackle health conditions ranging from mental distress to high blood pressure, increase productivity, help the environment, improve family lives, encourage men to do more household tasks, and make people happier. It sounds fantastical, but it exists, and it’s overdue: the introduction of a four-day week.

The liberation of workers from excessive work was one of the pioneering demands of the labour movement. From the ashes of the civil war, American trade unionism rallied behind an eight-hour day, “a movement which ran with express speed from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from New England to California”, as Karl Marx put it. In 1890 hundreds of thousands thronged into Hyde Park in a historic protest for the same demand. It is a cause that urgently needs reclaiming.

Related: The machine age is upon us. We must not let it grind society to pieces | Chuka Umunna

Related: CitySprint accused of ‘making a mockery’ of employment rights

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Post-Brexit vote surge in UK inflation may have peaked at 3%

Cheaper fuel and furniture prevent rise in cost of living from picking up speed as analysts suggest inflationary effects of EU referendum may be over

Signs that Britain’s post EU-referendum surge in the cost of living has peaked have emerged after the annual inflation rate remained unchanged at 3%.

In a surprise to the Bank of England and the financial markets, cheaper fuel and furniture prevented inflation as measured by the consumer prices index from picking up in October.

Inflation is when prices rise. Deflation is the opposite – price decreases over time – but inflation is far more common.

Related: Cost of living squeeze continues as UK inflation sticks at five-year high – business live

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Austerity, not Brexit, has doomed the Tory party | Aditya Chakrabortty

Our economy is sick – and with next week’s budget, May and Hammond look sure to make it sicker

The obituary for this government was published within days of its birth. Theresa May was a “dead woman walking”, proclaimed former cabinet colleague George Osborne. Thus was a sniggering bully transformed into an acerbic prophet. Who now dares argue with that verdict? Two senior ministers out within a week, two more barely clinging on to their jobs, and an administration that makes no progress, but merely lurches from disaster to catastrophe.

And so begins the Great Unravelling of the oldest political party in Europe, arguably the world. It leads the BBC bulletins. For the commentariat, it is their meat and drink and their tiramisu.

Austerity is now the thudding drumbeat behind every ministerial misstep

Related: Theresa May’s position is unsustainable, yet she still can’t see it | Matthew d’Ancona

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Labour vows to factor climate change risk into economic forecasts

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell to say ‘overwhelming challenge of climate change’ must be addressed from very centre of government

The risk posed by climate change would be factored into projections from the government’s independent economic forecaster under a future Labour government, the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, will announce on Tuesday.

McDonnell will highlight the human and economic costs of manmade climate change, calling it the “greatest single public challenge” and say the government should include the fiscal risks posed by global warming in future forecasts.

Related: From the Everglades to Kilimanjaro, climate change is destroying world wonders

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Squeeze on UK wages set to continue until 2022, thinktank warns

Average pay packet will be more than £20 lower than when financial crisis started in 2007, Resolution Foundation report says

The average pay packet in Britain in five years’ time will still be more than £20 lower than it was before the start of the financial crisis as the biggest squeeze on wages since the end of the Napoleonic Wars extends well into a second decade, a leading thinktank has warned.

The Resolution Foundation said that the downgrade to Britain’s future productivity performance expected in next week’s budget would have a negative impact on wage growth between now and 2022 and also limit the room for manoeuvre of the chancellor, Philip Hammond.

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