The Great Debate UK

Is the “golden era” for UK schools over?

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TimRudd- Tim Rudd is senior Researcher at Futurelab. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Whatever happens in the general election, the “Golden Age” of new school buildings programmes is expected to change significantly next year.

The funding commitment to what was originally envisaged as a 55-billion-pound Building Schools for the Future programme will no doubt be re-evaluated, leaving a string of questions.

What has the actual impact been from this investment, the largest in UK education for the past 50 years? Have the benefits been solid enough to invest further? Which areas will miss out if schemes are trimmed back now? Will it matter?

from MacroScope:

Brit shock horror: euro to survive

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Britons have never really got the euro zone. "Its not really going to happen, is it?" was a typical question from a City analyst to Reuters back in the mid-90s. The political drive behind the creation of the monetary union was beyond many in eurosceptic Britain.

So the results of a straw poll at an event sponsored by independent City advisers Lombard Street Research were somewhat suprising.  A hundred or so mainly British investors were asked whether the euro would be around in five years with its current membership. Response was about 80 percent saying yes to 20 percent saying no.

Tax year end – are you ready?

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Rachel Mason is public relations manager at independent financial service providers Fair Investment Company.The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.-

With the end of the tax year fast approaching, now is the time to make sure all your finances are in order and that you are maximising all the annual allowances, reliefs and exemptions available.

Fraser Nelson sets an agenda for David Cameron

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BRITAIN-EXPENSES/Some political observers fret over the paucity of policy initiatives emerging from Britain’s two main political parties ahead of a general election expected on May 6, as pre-election rhetoric turns its focus toward the possibility of a hung parliament.

Such a scenario raises fears of further economic instability if financial markets react badly to the uncertainty the result might bring to the political arena.

Tariq Ali on the state of UK politics

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TariqAliWhere is the burning debate on domestic and foreign policy observers might expect from the major political parties ahead of the next general election in Britain?

It’s just not going to happen, says political commentator and writer Tariq Ali, whose new novel “Night of the Golden Butterfly” concludes a fictional series titled “Islam Quintet” he began writing 20 years ago.

Good eco-sense is good business sense too

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JulietDavenport- Juliet Davenport is founder and CEO of Good Energy, a renewable electricity supplier. She is unique in being the only female founder in the UK of an energy supply business, traditionally a male-dominated sector. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in. -

Regardless of their views on climate change and man’s contribution to it, most business leaders agree on one point – as fossil fuels get scarcer and the UK decarbonises our economy, our energy prices will continue to rise.

from MacroScope:

Britain heading for rude awakening?

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There is a divisive election ahead for Britain, the threat of a ratings downgrade on its sovereign debt and a deficit that has ballooned into the largest by percentage of any major economy.  UK stocks, bonds and sterling, however, are trundling along as if all were well. What gives?

For a fuller discussion on the issue click here, but the gist is that all three asset classes  are being support by factors that may be masking the danger of a broad reversal. UK equities have been driven higher by the improving global economy, bonds held up by the Bank of England's huge buying programme and sterling by valuation and the distress of others.

from Breakingviews:

Brown’s financial tax call falls flat

OUKTP-UK-G20Brown's bid to depict himself as the saviour of the world economy and champion of Joe Taxpayer against Big Finance fell flat at the weekend.

So keen is the British prime minister to airbrush out his decade as a "light touch" finance minister that he embraced the heretical idea of a levy on financial transactions as one way to make banks pay for future bail-outs -- the so-called Tobin tax.

from UK News:

Drawing the line against the Taliban

afghan1Fight them there or fight them here?

Former Foreign Office minister Kim Howells poses the question in the Guardian in a piece made grimly relevant by Wednesday's shooting dead of  five British soldiers by an Afghan policeman.

Howells says troops should be brought back from Afghanistan and that the billions of pounds saved should be used to beef up homeland security in Britain -- drawing the front line against al Qaeda around the UK rather than thousands of miles away in Helmand province.

Will politicians come clean on tax hikes?

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As political parties step up their campaigning ahead of a general election due by June 2010, voters need to know exactly how politicians plan to tackle a projected deficit of 175 billion pounds, says Stephen Herring, senior tax partner at accountancy firm BDO LLP.

In a report titled “Time to Break the Silence” BDO suggests there will not only be cuts in public spending, but substantial business tax increases.

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