• In Focus

    Digital exclusion in the UK: Communications and Digital Committee report

    In 2023, the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee published a report on digital exclusion in which it called for the government to devise a new strategy and create a dedicated unit to address the issue. The committee argued the government’s approach lacked ambition. The government has said the issue is a priority and has established a dedicated ministerial group.

  • In Focus

    Where have all the workers gone?: Economic Affairs Committee report

    In December 2022, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee published the outcome of its inquiry on the size of the UK labour market. The committee said that economic inactivity had increased during the coronavirus pandemic and that early retirement among 50 to 64-year-olds was a key driver of the increase. The government responded to the committee report in May 2023. It highlighted a range of measures announced in the 2023 spring budget to improve workforce participation.

  • In Focus

    Holocaust Memorial Day 2024

    On 27 January 2024, the UK will commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. This year’s theme, as chosen by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, is ‘Fragility of freedom’. This year’s event takes place at the same time as a significant reported rise in the number of both antisemitic and anti-Muslim incidents in the UK, seemingly in response to the ongoing crisis in Gaza and the wider Middle East.

  • In Focus

    RAAC in school buildings: Concerns, risks and government response

    In the summer of 2023, shortly before the start of the autumn term, three UK schools experienced sudden roof collapses. The collapses have been attributed to reinforced autoclave aerated concrete (RAAC), a lightweight material used in their construction. The Department for Education advised all education settings to close areas with RAAC. The government has subsequently announced some support measures for affected schools, but education unions are calling for more.

  • In Focus

    Contribution of the arts to society and the economy

    The government estimates that creative industries generated £126bn in gross value added to the economy and employed 2.4 million people in 2022. A range of research is also examining the way in which creative industries and the arts can positively impact wellbeing, for example through public health interventions. In June 2023, the government published a ‘Creative industries sector vision’ which included a commitment to an additional £77mn in funding.

  • In Focus

    Calls for a UK industrial strategy

    The UK last set out a formal industrial strategy in 2017. Since 2021, the government has instead pursued various plans for growth. This briefing provides details on the UK’s industrial policies, commentary on the benefits and use of industrial strategies, and brief statistics about UK industry.

  • In Focus

    Financial education in schools

    Financial education forms part of the school curriculum across all UK nations. However, concerns have been raised that financial education is not being adequately provided in UK schools. Research has shown the positive impact that financial education can have on the financial literacy of children and young people. Some financial organisations and charities have called for more to be done to support schools to deliver financial education.

  • In Focus

    Closure of high street banks: Impact on local communities

    There has been a decline in the number of bank branches in operation in the UK over the last three decades. This has reportedly impacted many people, including those with disabilities, older people and those living in rural areas. In recent years, the government has sought to mitigate the impact of branch closures by introducing legislation containing provisions to protect access to cash services and publishing a policy statement outlining its minimum expectations to banks regarding services being removed or changed.

  • In Focus

    Performance of maternity services in England

    The government has described the NHS as one of the safest places in the world to give birth. However, multiple reports and independent investigations have highlighted ongoing problems in maternity care in England. This article summarises recent findings on the performance of NHS maternity services in England, as well as recent government and NHS policies aimed at improving the quality of maternity care.

  • In Focus

    Environmental land management: Recent changes to the sustainable farming incentive and countryside stewardship schemes

    The government is part way through the implementation of the environmental land management scheme in England. This replaces the system of financial support established during the UK’s membership of the EU common agricultural policy. This briefing considers how this scheme has been implemented, including recently announced changes. It also considers how support for biodiversity and the control of certain invasive species is provided through the environmental land management scheme.

  • In Focus

    Ukraine update: January 2024

    The war in Ukraine continues against a backdrop of escalating Russian strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure and population centres. Fighting remains intense on the front lines, though neither side has been able to achieve a strategically significant breakthrough. There are fears that Russia may be willing to sustain a long and protracted conflict, not least in the hope that international support for Ukraine will decline. The UK has remained one of Ukraine’s most prominent backers and has recently pledged further military aid.

  • In Focus

    International Agreements Committee report on the UK-Rwanda treaty

    The UK government signed a treaty with Rwanda in December 2023 in response to a Supreme Court judgment that its proposed Rwanda asylum policy was unlawful. The House of Lords International Agreements Committee has recommended that the government does not ratify the treaty until Parliament is satisfied that the protections it provides have been fully implemented, in the context of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill asking Parliament to make a judgement that Rwanda is safe.

  • In Focus

    Integration of newly recognised refugees

    The UK grants successful asylum applicants refugee status, enabling them to stay in the UK, access the labour market and claim benefits. Some refugees also arrive in the UK through settlement schemes. However, not all of those who are offered protection in the UK are refugees. Concerns have been raised recently about difficulties faced by refugees in moving on from asylum accommodation once they receive their grant of refugee status.

  • In Focus

    The 1.5-degree celsius global warming threshold: Could it be breached in 2024?

    At the 2015 UN climate change conference, the international community agreed to make efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels. Since then, global temperatures have continued to rise, with record-breaking temperatures in 2023. The UK’s Met Office has projected that 2024 could be even warmer, with the 1.5-degree threshold temporarily exceeded. This briefing summarises the background to the 1.5-degree threshold, and what actions the UK government is taking to mitigate the impacts of climate change.