Monthly Archives: May 2012

Chris Cook

The cash advantage for converting to become an academy is bigger for schools in more affluent areas. Read more

The governor of the Bank of England has pointed out that Britain’s recorded economic growth in the second quarter of 2012 will be depressed by the plethora of bank holidays. Within three months there is a four-day weekend for Easter, a May day break and another four-day weekend to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

Still, the news is not all bad: output will be boosted in the following quarter by expenditure associated with the London Olympics. The governor’s purpose – he can have had little hope of success – was to pre-empt speculation by financial commentators who perceive significance in 0.1 per cent fluctuations in reported output.

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Liverpool has emerged as the whiplash capital of Britain, where the government has recorded more than one compensation claim for neck injuries sustained in a traffic accident for every 50 residents.

A “heat map” drawn up by the Financial Times after a freedom of information request, shows a wide geographical disparity in alleged whiplash injuries, with 20 times more compensation claims per head in Liverpool, Uxbridge and Oldham than some other parts of the country.

Personal injury lawyers suggested regional variations in accident rates helped explain the figures – but insurers said they provided one of the clearest signs yet of fraudulent claims.

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Sally Gainsbury

There has been speculation recently that the government is planning to divert millions of pounds in NHS funds from deprived urban areas in the north, to leafy, Conservative voting constituencies in the south.

This stems from health secretary Andrew Lansley’s recent comment that “age is the principal determinant of health need” and that distribution of the £100bn budget for the NHS in England should “get progressively to a greater focus on what are the actual determinants of health need.”

Somewhere along the line, those comments were interpreted by a generally cheesed-off medical profession that Mr Lansley intends to introduce an “age-only” NHS allocation formula, switching substantial NHS funds from, generally younger, Labour-voting constituencies in north to the octogenarians who thrive in the Conservative-voting villages of the south.

It’s a good story, which might even contain elements of the truth, but the reality, as ever, is a little more complicated.

At present, five separate allocation formulae are used to divvy up different bits of the £100bn NHS pot to different areas of England. The largest share – the hospital care budget – is divided up using one formula, while four others – mental health, GP prescribing, health inequalities (more on that in a later post) and maternity – are each allocated using their own separate formula. (Think for a second about the demographics driving the demand for maternity services as opposed to, say, hip replacements, and you will grasp why this makes sense.)

Health economists and statisticians frequently tweak and argue over these formula in order to move, hopefully, ever closer to the Holy Grail: a distribution of health resources which is fairly distributed on the basis of health need. Read more

Chris Cook

Grammar schools are a seductive idea: skim off high performing children at the age of 11 for education together. At the moment, there are 164 such schools in England, in a few counties which did not manage to slough them off. But their success is a myth. Read more

Martin Stabe

With more than a year’s worth of of data from our exclusive business sentiment poll, the FT/Economist Global Business Barometer, now available, some interesting longitudinal patterns are becoming apparent for the first time.

Most notable among them is the steady erosion over the past year in executives’ perceptions of the “business friendliness” three of the world’s biggest developing economies, India, China and Brazil.

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