The Government’s obsession with London is holding back our creative industries – and the recovery

clash

This post originally featured on the Liberal Democrat Voice website

As a failed rock guitarist but still passionate consumer of music I always look forward to the Mercury Music awards at the end of October, and this year’s nominees were as interesting and eclectic as they usually are. What wasn’t as diverse was where these acts originated from. Over 60% were from the Greater London area and only four were from outside the south east of England, which is surprising when you consider the award covers the whole of the UK and Ireland. It seems the advice I heard fifteen years ago during my short and unsuccessful music career is still true – ‘if you want to make it, move to London’. Continue reading

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Nick’ Position On Welfare For Rich Pensioners Is Confused And Needs Clarifying

This article was first posted on the Liberal Democrat Voice website

Poverty-Lane

In its first annual report, the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has proposed cuts in welfare for well-off pensioners, including currently universal benefits such as the winter fuel allowance, free bus pass and free TV license, proposing the money should be used to help children in poor families.

Proposing a fundamental shift in welfare support from pensioners to the young the report says:

We do not believe that favouring pensioners over their children and grandchildren will be a sustainable position over the long term if a meaningful dent is to be made in the UK’s high levels of child poverty and low levels of social mobility.

Writing in the Telegraph yesterday Nick Clegg welcomed the majority of this report but has rejected one particular aspect.

Nick wrote:

It also makes some more debatable assertions, about the appropriate balance of fiscal consolidation between different age groups, for example – punishing pensioners isn’t going to help a single child achieve more in life.

This seems at odds with what the Deputy Prime Minister has said in the past, publicly advocating the need to look again at universal pensioner benefits and that welfare “should not be paid to those who do not need it”. Continue reading

An End To The Perverse 5 GCSE’s Target

david laws

David Laws yesterday announced a little publicised but crucially important change to the way we’re measuring school performance. For many years our secondary schools have been judged by the proportion of pupils that achieve 5 GCSE’s at grade C or better, including English and Maths.

Although this was a well-intentioned target, it’s had a perverse effect. To boost their ranking under pressure schools have focussed on pupils that are on the D/C borderline at the detriment of both higher achievers and lower achievers at the school.  If a child is tracking towards an E grade (or worse), forget about them. Continue reading