Splitting the bill for the cost of living crisis. The two week pause ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn statement on 17th November has left plenty of room for speculation and debate about the likely contents. We will explore the wider macroeconomic context in next week’s Digest, but, for now, one question dominates: who should ultimately pay the bill for the cost of living crisis?
Wealth tax reform is preferable to austerity. More recently, the Telegraph reported that “Hunt is considering up to £20 billion of tax rises in the [now delayed] Halloween budget, with high earners to bear the brunt of his quest to balance the books.”
What about the energy sector? Chancellor Hunt had previously also avoided ruling out the introduction of a new windfall tax. Current loopholes in the current windfall tax on oil and gas producers mean that drilling in new oil fields (such as Equinor’s new site at Rosebank) amount to a net loss for the taxpayer.
Stop The Squeeze. Nick Gutteridge reports that the Chancellor is “not considering measures that would hit the poorest Britons who are already struggling with rising prices.” A new coalition campaign, Stop The Squeeze, has launched calling on the government to deliver “a real plan for an affordable Britain” and tackle the cost of living crisis by guaranteeing affordable energy, boosting incomes, and raising taxes on wealth. The campaign has a wide range of supporting organisations from anti-poverty charities like Oxfam and Save the Children, climate campaigners like Uplift and Possible, progressive think tanks, trade unions and more. You can read more about their aims and get involved here.
Global temperatures are still set to rise by 2.5C. The UN’s Climate Change body has published its 2022 Synthesis report which collates the climate pledges (Nationally Determined Contributions) each country has recorded under the Paris Agreement. The report finds that, if all governments fulfil their commitments given so far, global temperatures will still rise by 2.5C by 2100.
Global energy security. The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2022 has released its latest World Energy Outlook. Summarising the report, Caroline Lee from the Canadian Climate Institute notes: “For the first time ever, there is no scenario that sees continued, long-term growth of any fossil fuel, including natural gas”.
New evidence on harms of fracking. Analysis from the Liberal Democrats has found that the UK’s only active fracking site in Lancashire was responsible for 192 earthquakes over 182 days in 2018-19. The Guardian’s Helena Horton notes that “Many of the sites that could be viable for fracking are in swing seats held by Conservative MPs in the “red wall”, which Labour hopes to win back.”
Climate priorities for the new Cabinet. Green Alliance have produced a policy briefing outlining their priorities for the new prime minister on energy and the environment. The briefing includes the latest data, polling and recommendations for a variety of policy areas such as energy, land use, COP15 and COP26, the Green Finance Strategy, the Environment Act, review of retained EU law, and more.
U-turn on deregulatory ‘investment zones’? Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove announced he was reviewing Liz Truss’s plans for investment zones, which aimed to deregulate local areas in an attempt to attract new business investment. Gove stated: "We need to make sure that any change that we make is one which of course helps to support economic growth and good jobs for people, but also one of the concerns raised about investment zones was the impact on the environment.”
The Equality Question. The Fabian Society have published a pamphlet from Stewart Lansley, who called on the Labour Party to “embrace its egalitarian roots” with a politically viable strategy to increase the benefit floor, restore a progressive tax system, redistribute assets from the wealthy and create a “new philosophy of government and a transformed system of political economy”.
The new interventionist consensus. Looking back over the recent ‘Conservative collapse’ in popularity, Onward’s Will Tanner and James Blagden use polling to argue “Economically interventionist and socially conservative policies that won the 2019 election are the Conservatives’ only hope of avoiding oblivion in 2024.” Tanner has been publicly criticising the IEA for manifesting their economically libertarian ideas in the mini-budget that “broke” the economy.
What do the public think about corporate governance? Polling from the High Pay Centre has found that “The public believe workers should have a greater say and this is supported by around 8 in 10 (79%), including 77% of people who voted Conservative at the last general election in 2019.” They also found strong support for trade unions, corporate governance reform and worker representation on boards.
Climate, Economics and Class. The Working Class Economists Group is hosting a webinar on Climate, Economics and Class on the 2nd of November 7pm-8.30pm. War on Want’s Asad Rehman, Journalist Sanar Hasan and Breathe’s Leon Sealey-Huggins will be speaking before a Q&A. Sign up here.