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Advantage Magazine: Austerity 10th Anniversary Special

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Advantage Magazine: Austerity 10th Anniversary Special

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Welcome to the special austerity issue of CAGE’s Advantage magazine….

Austerity: Where next? by Gemma Tetlow

Austerity: This time was different by Nicholas Crafts

Law, order and austerity. Police numbers and crime in the 2010s by Mirko Draca and Monica Langella

Education in a time of austerityLink opens in a new window by Claire Crawford

The impact of the 2011 Housing Benefit reform by Thiemo Fetzer

Capital gains and hidden inequality by Arun Advani and Andy Summers

Did austerity cause Brexit? by Thiemo Fetzer

Happiness trends in the UK over the last decade by Andrew Oswald and Nattavudh Powdthavee

Parting Shot by Mirko Draca

When we started this project, our aim was to consider the effect of austerity both on the economy and wellbeing over the last 10 years. With a new government in place in 2019, and Brexit negotiations ahead of us, it seemed a good moment to encourage new measured policy choices by reflecting on past decisions.

But as we worked, a new economic crisis emerged- the COVID-19 pandemic. As I write this editorial, in lockdown, there is still much uncertainty about where this crisis will take us. But the content of this magazine is more relevant than ever. Even before we can take stock of the full economic situation, the virus has already thrown up new (as well as old) questions about government borrowing and spending policy; funding the NHS, social care and welfare; inequality in income and education; and wellbeing. This issue tackles all these concerns.

Gemma Tetlow begins by considering how, as we emerge from austerity, the UK government might respond to the economic shock of coronavirus. Nick Crafts, meanwhile, looks back in history to compare our most recent austerity period with those from the 1930s and 1980s.

Next, we consider the effect of austerity on public services and welfare. Mirko Draca and Monica Langella analyse crime and policing; Claire Crawford takes a look at education funding; and Thiemo Fetzer studies the effect of changes to housing benefits.

A well-used (perhaps over-used) saying of austerity was ‘we are all in it together’. Our next articles suggest otherwise. Arun Advani and Andy Summers demonstrate that by excluding capital gains from the statistics, we have been given the wrong impression about inequality. Thiemo Fetzer highlights how austerity exacerbated divisions across the country, and tipped the balance of opinion in favour of Brexit.

But it isn’t all bad news. Andrew Oswald and Nattavudh Powdthavee show that despite the divisions and difficulties of austerity, we are happier now than we were ten years ago.

To know the best path to take next, we need to know where we have been. We hope this issue will help policymakers make their next choices the right ones.

Stephanie Seavers