All posts by Moderator

Britain is discovering the difficult truth about trade deals | Phillip Inman

Wanting to forge new trading relationships after Brexit and securing them are two very different things

A trade deal, any trade deal: that is all Liam Fox wants from his civil servants. It is not much for an international trade secretary to ask. Especially when the prospect of all-encompassing agreements on imports and exports was held up in the referendum and its aftermath as one of the chief benefits of quitting the European Union. Not least by Fox himself.

Wanting a trade deal and securing one are not the same thing, as Fox has found out in the last two years of chasing down the 69 nations that have deals with the EU which the UK needs to replicate.

Related: Post-Brexit trade partners ask UK to lower human rights standards

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To survive, councils need more money. But council tax is broken | Luke Murphy

Austerity has stripped local services to the bone – and those on the lowest incomes will be forced to pay for it

“The most boring and complicated subject in all of public life,” declared William Waldegrave, former minister and an architect of the fateful poll tax, when speaking of local government finance. But this is misleading: the consequences of local government austerity are anything but boring for those on the lowest incomes. The design of the council tax system – and recent reforms to it – hits the poorest hardest. Here’s why.

Since 2010, the central government grant to local government has been cut by almost 60%. This has had a devastating impact on local public services with spending falling in real terms by nearly one-fifth (excluding education and public health) since the start of the decade. So it’s little surprise that council taxpayers in England face substantial increases in their bills, with nearly all councils set to increase them this April.

Related: Why is the tax on a London mansion a tiny fraction of that in New York? | Simon Jenkins

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