Yesterday, the House of Commons passed a bill that will cut £12bn in welfare programmes. Chancellor George Osborne argues that the government has no choice but to continue reducing the budget deficit. When announcing the plan, he pointed to the unfolding Greek crisis to reinforce his idea that a country has to be in control of its own borrowing or the “borrowing takes control of the country”. The plan is expected to move Britain “from a low-wage, high-tax, high-welfare economy to the higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare country we intend to create”. Despite the proclaimed intentions, a likely consequence of these planned cuts is an increased polarisation of household incomes, as my recent research shows. (more…)
Early school leaving has always been a blight on the English education system. Throughout the nineteenth century children tended to leave school earlier than elsewhere in northern Europe. This continued well after the 1944 Education Act introduced free ‘secondary education for all’. By the early 1980s, barely more than 30% of 16-18 year olds were in full-time education and training, compared with well over 70% in Japan, Sweden and the USA. The proportion gaining a higher level qualification was also relatively low. UK-wide, only10% gained three A levels compared with over 20% gaining the Abitur in Germany and an even higher proportion achieving the Baccalauréat in France.
Wanting to understand this startling disparity, along with the exceptional underdevelopment of vocational education and training in (more…)