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Bold and practical ideas for the centre right

In this week's newsletter:

  • The coming energy crunch for households 
  • New Onward research on what’s needed to convince households to go green
  • A look back on Michael Gove’s time in Government

Winter is coming. The mean daily temperature in July was 16.6 degrees. But 2,271 people were still forced to turn off their fridge and electric appliances because they could not top up their prepayment energy meter, according to Citizens Advice. To give a sense of scale, the equivalent number last winter was 1,444 people. The charity estimates that Ofgem’s October price cap rise, due this Friday, will leave 24% of consumers unable to pay energy bills. 

Scant insulation: The biggest drain on prepayment meters during winter will be heating, so it’s no wonder the Government is aiming for every home to be EPC C standard by 2035. With 15 million homes in need of improvement, that’s the equivalent to two homes insulated per minute. Our new paper, Going Green, recommends introducing blended finance, with grants and subsidised loans attached to the property deed, to finance street-by-street retrofit to achieve this rate.

The consummate reformer. Michael Gove is retiring from frontline politics. In every brief - education, justice, environment, Cabinet Office and levelling up, he proved a disciplined minister driven by clear principles. A belief in decentralising control was visible in free schools, prison autonomy and mayoral devolution. A commitment to the power of good government is evident in the national food strategy and private renters bill. A desire for stronger state capacity is clear from his uncompromising approach to court delays, prison dysfunction and failures in the care system. He will be missed from Government.

New New Deal. In the US, the CHIPS and Science Act signed off unprecedented levels of public investment in place-based economic policy. As the Upjohn Institute notes, the bill proposes $11 billion in funding over 5 years for 20 regional technology hubs and 10 economically distressed communities - more than any projects in FDR’s Tennessee Valley Authority or Kennedy’s Appalachian Regional Commission. Levelling up is alive over the pond.

Baby boomer. A new US study shows that giving low-income parents a $1,300 cash grant following the birth of a first child boosts the baby's earnings in early adulthood by at least 1 to 2 percent, and boosts literacy and numeracy test scores. Yet, as PM hopeful Liz Truss lamented to Onward in 2019, UK public spending is weighted towards teenagers, with taxpayers spending £3,000 per pupil in early years, £5,000 in primary, £6,000 in secondary, and £6,500 towards university. 

News and media

What next for levelling up? Adam Hawksbee writes for The Independent.

Taking the mickey mouse degree. Will Tanner responds to overseas students crowding out British places in the The Mail on Sunday.

Zombie apocalypse. The Daily Telegraph cites Onward’s research in a piece about the growth of zombie companies.

How to fix housing. Neil O’Brien draws on his research with Onward for ConservativeHome.

Going green. Read coverage of our net zero report in The Sun, Telegraph, Times, or Guardian.

Upcoming events

From panel events to drinks receptions and policy roundtables, Onward is running a busy events programme with leading politicians at the Conservative and Labour party conferences this autumn. If you would like to find out more about what we are planning please email our Head of Events David Comerford


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