Leaving and learning: should we raise the school leaving age?

Sarah Womack 150Sarah Womack is a former political and social affairs correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. Here she asks – should pupils stay in school until the age of 19?

This month (April 2017) marks the 70th anniversary of one of the UK’s most significant social reforms, but you probably couldn’t guess what it is. In 1947, when the school leaving age was raised from 14 to 15 – and, for the first time, there was secondary education for all – critics claimed there were not enough buildings or teachers to cope, and pupils would truant, leading to a crime wave. But serious revolt didn’t happen, and, 25 years later, the leaving age rose again to 16 – and, in 2013-15, participation in education or training was raised to 17, then 18. Continue reading

How English care homes have coped with the National Living Wage

Giulia Giupponi 150Giulia Giupponi is an ESRC-funded PhD student at the London School of Economics and a research assistant at the Centre for Economic Performance.

Steve Machin 150Stephen Machin is Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and Director of the Centre for Economic Performance.

They have been advising the Low Pay Commission on the impact of the National Living Wage on English care homes.

On 1 April, all five UK minimum wage rates were increased (PDF), a year on from introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) for workers aged 25 and over with a rate of £7.20 an hour. Rates for younger workers remained at the level of the existing National Minimum Wage (NMW). The NLW is set to achieve the 2020 target of 60 per cent of median earnings. Given the scale of the change – a 7.5 per cent increase at the time of the NLW introduction (PDF) – and the ambitious target set for 2020, a natural question is the impact on employment and other margins of adjustment by firms. Continue reading

Crime time: how a Festival event inspired my teaching

Ruth Shaw 150Ruth Shaw is Curriculum Leader for Social Sciences at Nelson and Colne College, where she teaches A-level Sociology.

In November 2016 she attended a crime-themed event, hosted by OCR as part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science. The event gave her some real-world inspiration for teaching her students

As a teacher of sociology, this event was a rare and refreshing opportunity to think about how research into crime spans across a range of social science subjects – it was great to discuss ideas that spanned across geography, law, citizenship, psychology and sociology – and as you can probably tell from what I go on to write next, there was lots packed into a day! Continue reading

Tax credit cuts: the impact on families

Agnes Norris Keller 150.jpgAgnes Norris Keiller is a research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and works in the Income, Work and Welfare sector. She currently works on projects related to the income distribution and the labour market.

Here she examines the changes to the tax credits system which are being introduced this month, and what the changes might mean for those receiving them in the future

The first week of April saw the introduction of significant cuts to the working-age benefits system.

The allocation of tax credits (and universal credit, which is replacing tax credits and three other working-age means-tested benefits) currently depends on the number of children in a family. Continue reading

The value of partnerships between academics and local councils

luke-sibieta-150Luke Sibieta is a Programme Director within the Education, Employment and Evaluation sector at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

In this piece, he describes a collaboration between Lambeth Council and researchers from the IFS which proved informative for policymakers and of value to researchers.

Local councils in the UK have the potential to be a laboratory for testing policy ideas and interventions. In the US, individual states have frequently trialled different approaches to public service delivery, with successful examples taken up by other states. This process of policy trial and diffusion has been much less common in the UK, at least historically. Continue reading