The UK economy in the 1980s

This briefing is the fourth of a series on the post-war history of the UK economy. The series proceeds decade-by-decade from the 1950s onwards, providing an overview of the key macroeconomic developments of each decade. This briefing looks at the 1980s. The decline in the profitability of industry, which began in the 1960s, was reversed in this decade; however, the share of national income received by workers fell to a post-war low.

The UK economy in the 1980s

Cyclists and the law

Currently, cyclists who ride dangerously or carelessly can be prosecuted for various offences, including those contained in the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended). In 2024, the government said it was introducing a new offence of causing death by dangerous cycling. This briefing summarises the existing laws and proposals for creating new offences ahead of a forthcoming debate in the House of Lords.

Cyclists and the law

Eating less sugar: Reformulating food and drink products and government policy

Too much sugar in diets can contribute to health issues. Reformulating products, or changing how much sugar is in what people normally eat and drink, means the public do not have to change their habits to eat more healthily. Recent governments have introduced measures to decrease the public’s consumption of sugar, as well as salt and fat. However, some organisations have encouraged the government to go further by creating more mandatory schemes and levies for industry.

Eating less sugar: Reformulating food and drink products and government policy
  • In Focus

    Questions to the foreign secretary: 21 May 2024

    Members of the House of Lords will ask Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton a series of oral questions on 21 May 2024. Topics include the government’s assessment of Israel's compliance with an International Court of Justice order regarding Gaza; the number of vessels transporting Russian oil; the UK’s priorities for cooperation with South Africa after forthcoming elections; and what the UK is doing to address conflict-induced food insecurity.

  • In Focus

    Role of the prime minister’s trade envoys

    The prime minister’s trade envoys are a network of parliamentarians appointed to engage with countries where the UK government has identified trade and investment opportunities. There were 35 trade envoys covering 58 markets as of 16 May 2024. The government has said trade envoys support the UK’s economic growth by promoting trade in key markets. However, some parliamentarians have sought clarity on aspects of the trade envoy programme.

  • In Focus

    Contribution of sport to society and the economy

    This briefing considers the benefits of sport and physical activity ahead of a House of Lords debate on the subject on 16 May 2024. The government and sports sector stakeholders agree that sport has many benefits for individuals and communities, as well as for the economy more broadly. The government published a new strategy for the sports sector in August 2023. The ambition of the strategy was commended; however, sports charities and the opposition suggested that more was required from the government to deliver on it.

  • In Focus

    Addressing external auditing deficiencies

    The collapse of major UK companies such as BHS and Carillion has raised questions about the effectiveness of the country’s auditing practices. The government has committed to reforming the auditing industry. The 2022 Queen’s Speech included a plan to publish a draft bill including measures to establish a new audit, reporting and governance regulatory body with enhanced enforcement powers. The draft bill has not yet been published, but the government says it remains committed to legislating when parliamentary time allows.

  • Research Briefing

    Commercial Organisations and Public Authorities Duty (Human Rights and Environment) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 17 of 2023–24

    The Commercial Organisations and Public Authorities Duty (Human Rights and Environment) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Baroness Young of Hornsey (Crossbench). It would place due diligence obligations concerning human rights and the environment on businesses and public sector bodies. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the bill at second reading on 10 May 2024.

  • In Focus

    Border controls for UK and EU imports and exports

    In August 2023, the UK government published its ‘border target operating model’ (BTOM), which set out how the UK would gradually introduce full border controls on imports into Great Britain from the EU. The BTOM is being introduced gradually during 2024. The second phase is scheduled to commence on 30 April 2024 and is set to include the introduction of full sanitary and phytosanitary checks on certain goods imported from the EU. This briefing looks at the controls being introduced on 30 April 2024, as well as concerns raised by industries about how the changes could impact EU imports.

  • In Focus

    Child poverty: Statistics, causes and the UK’s policy response

    The government has estimated that 4.3 million children, or 30% of all children in the UK, were living in relative low-income households after housing costs in 2022/23. This represents an increase on the previous year. The government has said unexpectedly high inflation, driven by the war in Ukraine and supply chain challenges, contributed to the rise. It argues that falling inflation, rising real wages and uprated benefits will help low-income households in the year ahead.

  • In Focus

    The impact of gambling marketing

    The gambling industry has expanded over recent years and increased attention is being paid to the issue of gambling-related harms and the role that the marketing of gambling services plays in exacerbating them. The House of Lords is due to debate these issues on 25 April 2024.

  • In Focus

    Importance of skills: Economic and social benefits

    The importance of skills is recognised across the main political parties in the UK. Evidence suggests that greater skill levels benefit the economy as a whole but also provide significant economic and social benefits for the individuals who possess them. The House of Lords is due to debate these issues on 9 May 2024.

  • In Focus

    Economic Affairs Committee report: ‘Making an independent Bank of England work better’

    In 2023 the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee conducted an inquiry into the Bank of England’s operational independence, 25 years after independence was formalised with the passage of the Bank of England Act 1998. This briefing provides a summary of the committee’s findings and the government’s response, ahead of a debate in the House of Lords on 2 May 2024.

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