23 October 2012
The independent Higher Education Commission has today recommended that the government "immediately establish a senior level taskforce to examine the feasibility of postgraduate student loan scheme".
CentreForum welcomes this development having called for the introduction of government backed loans for taught master's degrees in its October 2011 report 'Mastering postgraduate funding'.
The think tank's report received positive support from the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and universities minister David Willetts, who referred to it in his HEFCE annual conference speech in April.
Professor Stephen Lee, chief executive at CentreForum, commented:
"The lack of accessible funding for domestic postgraduates puts the UK at a competitive disadvantage."
"This situation is unnecessary given the funding arrangements already in place for undergraduates. We therefore warmly welcome the new initiative from the Higher Education Commission. A government backed postgraduate loans system will boost the employment prospects of thousands of prospective participants at zero long term cost to the taxpayer."
NOTES TO EDITORS
The CentreForum report 'Mastering postgraduate funding' can be downloaded.
The report proposes a novel way of financing one year taught postgraduate courses based on the system of undergraduate loans. Under this proposal, the government would loan prospective students £10,000 up front and reclaim the money later through income contingent payments. CentreForum's modelling shows that most students would pay back their entire loan after they had graduated. It also suggests that any losses would be outweighed by higher tax revenues from individuals who would not otherwise have taken postgraduate level work.
The recommendations of the Higher Education Commission thus build upon CentreForum's proposal to implement a tax neutral system of income contingent loans accessible to all UK postgraduate students.
3 October 2012
Replacing vehicle excise duty with a one off emissions charge on new cars would cut 2.6 per cent off total UK carbon emissions and lower running costs for motorists, a new report by CentreForum argues.
Under the think tank's revenue neutral scheme, the government would set an annual emissions "pivot point" equal to the emissions of the best performing one per cent of cars the previous year. Cars with emissions below the one per cent level would receive a subsidy. Cars above this level would attract an emissions charge.
CentreForum says its scheme will give car manufacturers a big incentive to produce more efficient vehicles. This in turn will lower costs for motorists, who over time will see a reduction in their fuel costs.
CentreForum has calculated that the scheme will cut fuel use by around 450 gallons over a 100,000 mile lifetime, saving motorists around £2,700.
The scheme will reduce total UK carbon emissions by 2.6 per cent after 15 years, the report says.
Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said:
"I welcome this report. It is exactly the sort of innovative thinking we have come to expect from CentreForum."
Kate Barker, former chief economist at Ford Europe, said:
"This is a great proposal with strong rationale."
Report author Tim Leunig said:
"More efficient cars save motorists money and reduce global warming. What's not to like?"
NOTES TO EDITORS
The CentreForum report 'Cutting emissions and making cars cheaper to run: a new approach to vehicle excise duty' by Tim Leunig can be downloaded.
CentreForum's analysis is based on 61,000 lines of data on new car sales 2004-2007 kindly supplied by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd (SMMT).
19 September 2012
CentreForum is pleased to announce two new appointments.
Stephen Lee, Professor of Voluntary Sector Management at Cass Business School, will be joining the liberal think tank as its Chief Executive.
Former Director of Strategy to the Deputy Prime Minister, Richard Reeves, will take on the role of Associate Director.
Besides these new appointments, Tim Leunig will be leaving CentreForum in early October to serve as Policy Adviser in the Department for Education. Tim has been Chief Economist at the think tank since January 2011.
Paul Marshall, Chairman of CentreForum's Management Committee, commented:
"It gives me great pleasure to announce these two new appointments. Stephen Lee has exciting ideas for developing our reputation as one of the UK's leading think tanks. His business background and experience in academia puts him in a strong position to turn these ideas into reality."
"Richard Reeves has a number of thought provoking policy proposals in the pipeline which will be published by CentreForum over the next few years. We look forward to working with him."
"We are delighted that Tim Leunig will be taking his expertise in public policy to the Department for Education. Tim is a brilliant thinker and has done a fantastic job as our Chief Economist. I wish him great success in his challenging new role."
Stephen Lee will combine his role as Chief Executive at CentreForum with his continuing role as Professor of Voluntary Sector Management at Cass Business School, City University.
Stephen entered the voluntary sector in 1982 as Deputy Chief Executive at the Charities Advisory Trust and Directory of Social Change. Following further senior appointments in the not for profit sector, he held the post of Director of the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) for a period of 11 years from 1987 to 1998.
He has been College Secretary at Henley Management College and Faculty Director Strategy and Professor of Marketing at Henley Business School (University of Reading) where he also established and ran the Centre for Voluntary Sector Management.
He has also been a Senior Research Fellow, South Bank University Business School and taught graduate programmes at University of Utrecht Business School, Erasmus (NL), Bristol Business School (UWE), University of Geneva and in the Department of Business and Management at Bath Spa University. A Fellow of the RSA and one of only four Honorary Fellows of the IoF, in September 2000 Stephen received the inaugural Professional Fundraising Lifetime Achievement Award.
Richard Reeves was Director of Strategy to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg until recently, prior to which he was Director of the think tank Demos. Previously he worked as Director of Futures at The Work Foundation, Society Editor of The Observer, and as Principal Policy Adviser to the Minister for Welfare Reform. In 2007 he published a biography of liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill.
17 September 2012
The time has come to end tax breaks for rich pensioners, a new report by CentreForum suggests.
Published on the eve of the party conference season, the think tank's report 'Tax justice: whatever your age' urges the coalition parties to remove imbalances in the tax system between young and old. It points out that the richest pensioners pay far less tax than people of working age on the same income.
CentreForum proposes that the government should phase out the tax free lump sum and end national insurance exemptions for affluent pensioners. It says that this would make the tax system more balanced and save taxpayers over £9 billion a year. The savings would be used to raise the personal income tax allowance by £1,700, which is equivalent to a £330 a year tax cut.
The report shows that scrapping these tax breaks would only affect wealthy pensioners: two thirds of current pensioner households would be better off or unaffected by the proposed changes.
It says that using the money raised to increase the personal tax allowance would ease the financial pressure on the "squeezed middle".
Report co-author Tim Leunig said:
"The biggest financial pressures occur when you are young. Large tax breaks for affluent pensioners make no sense."
The report's other author Adam Corlett added:
"At a time of spending cuts, we must rethink tax breaks that favour the richest."
Angus Hanton, co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation, said:
"Young people are financing tax breaks for older, wealthier pensioners. We need a tax system that plays fair with all generations, one based on wealth and income, not on age."
NOTES TO EDITORS
The CentreForum report 'Tax justice: whatever your age' by Tim Leunig with Adam Corlett can be downloaded.
As well as the measures set out above the report proposes an £8,000 additional national insurance allowance for pensioners. This means those with incomes below £16,000 would pay no national insurance.