• In Focus

    Sportswashing: History, governing bodies, state investments and English football club ownership

    Power and sport have long been linked. From hosting competitions and investing internationally to building new leagues at home, human rights organisations say that some states are using sports to ‘launder’ their international reputations while human rights abuses continue. Governing bodies cite political neutrality or argue that engaging with nations can lead to improvements in human rights.

  • In Focus

    Supporting persecuted Christians: Government policy

    The charitable organisation Open Doors has estimated that more than 365 million Christians face high levels of persecution and discrimination worldwide because of their faith. In 2019, the government asked the Bishop of Truro to map levels of persecution and other discrimination against Christians around the world and present recommendations to the foreign secretary. An independent assessment of the government’s implementation of the review was published in July 2022.

  • In Focus

    Sexual and reproductive healthcare

    Most sexual and reproductive healthcare services in England are commissioned by local authorities and funded through a public health grant from central government. Some organisations have expressed concern that funding has been cut in real terms over the past 10 years and this has placed pressure on existing services in the context of increased demand. The government has said that it is looking at how to continue to improve the sexual health of the population, and workforce planning, development and training for public health areas such as sexual and reproductive health should benefit from improved joint working between integrated care boards and local authorities through integrated care partnerships.

  • In Focus

    Local government finances: Impact on communities

    Local authorities receive revenue finance primarily from government grants and business rates. This is used to fund various services, including social care, housing and waste management. In recent years, cost and demand pressures faced by local authorities have outstripped overall inflation. The government recently finalised the local government funding settlement, which sets out how much councils will receive from the government in 2024/25 and provides estimates of their spending power.

  • In Focus

    Spring budget 2024: Key announcements and analysis

    In the March 2024 budget, the chancellor said that progress was being made towards the prime minister’s economic priorities and that he was therefore able to help households with permanent cuts to taxation. Some of these measures were welcomed. However, commentators noted that taxation was still projected to rise sharply as a share of the economy and that living standards were to be lower at the end of the current parliament than at the start.

  • In Focus

    UK accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership

    In 2023, the UK government signed the accession protocol to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This briefing includes background information on the negotiations for the UK’s membership of the CPTPP prior to a House of Lords debate on the protocol. It also summarises the recommendations of the House of Lords International Agreements Committee on the protocol.

  • In Focus

    Regulation of news broadcasting companies

    The Office of Communications (Ofcom) is the regulator for the communications industry in the UK. It licences broadcasters and enforces content standards through its broadcasting code. In recent years, the government has sought to change the regulation of media companies by introducing legislation to update the framework governing broadcasting. It has also launched a mid-term review evaluating the effectiveness of the governance and regulation of the BBC.

  • In Focus

    Questions to the foreign secretary: 12 March 2024

    Members of the House of Lords will ask Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton a series of oral questions on 12 March 2024. These include when he will next meet with the president of the European Commission; the role of private creditors in debt restructuring for low- and middle-income countries facing debt crises; the amount of humanitarian aid to Gaza; and how the government is supporting the BBC World Service.

  • In Focus

    Strengthening the UK union

    The union between England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland is governed both by legislation and the statutory frameworks of devolution settlements, and non-legislative measures that cover joint decision making and dispute resolution. Events such as the UK’s exit from the European Union have the potential to put the union under strain. This briefing explores suggested reforms which proponents argue would strengthen the UK union.

  • In Focus

    Housing needs of young people

    The number of young adults who own a home in the UK has fallen in recent decades. More families in England and Wales had adult children living with them in 2021 compared to 10 years earlier. Barriers to home ownership included increased property prices relative to incomes. Think tanks have considered whether alternative housing policies would help more young people get onto the property ladder. The government has also introduced various schemes aimed at supporting home ownership.

  • In Focus

    UK position on foreign affairs

    In 2021 the government published an integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy. It published a refreshed review in March 2023 to take account of developments in foreign affairs over the preceding two years. The government has since published a number of policy papers and strategies to complement the refreshed review. In addition, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton was appointed as foreign secretary in November 2023.

  • In Focus

    International Women’s Day 2024: Economic inclusion of women

    Economic disparities persist between men and women globally, with women generally facing lower pay, higher levels of informal employment, and more unpaid care work than men. Internationally, the UK government has made commitments to promote gender equality and economic inclusion, but concerns have been raised about the level of aid funding. In the UK, the government has expanded childcare places for working parents and supported private members’ bills to make changes to employment law.

  • In Focus

    Motion for an humble address on Northern Ireland

    The government has tabled motions in both Houses of Parliament for an humble address on Northern Ireland to be presented to the King. This follows the publication in January 2024 of a command paper on ‘Safeguarding the union’ and the restoration of Northern Ireland’s devolved institutions in February 2024.

  • In Focus

    Higher education: Contribution to the economy and levelling up

    The economic output of the UK higher education sector is estimated to be at least £116bn and graduates often experience better employment outcomes than non-graduates. Improving skills features in the government’s levelling up strategy and ministers have said that higher education institutions play a vital part in supporting regional economies. However, some stakeholders have criticised the government’s plans to restrict access to certain higher education courses and for not putting enough emphasis on the benefits provided by the sector.