• In Focus

    The UK economy in the 1950s

    This briefing is the first of a series on the post-war history of the UK economy. The series will go decade-by-decade from the 1950s onwards, providing an overview of the key macroeconomic developments of each decade. This first briefing looks at the 1950s. The economy expanded significantly over the course of this decade, fluctuating between periods of high and low growth, generating broad-based real-terms income growth across the country.

  • In Focus

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Promoting the declaration’s principles 75 years on

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly 75 years ago, on 10 December 1948. The declaration set out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. As such it became a foundational instrument of the modern international human rights system. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on member states to “rejuvenate” the declaration.

  • In Focus

    North Korea: A threat to global security?

    North Korea continues to develop its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes in defiance of international sanctions. Long viewed as a threat to regional stability, there are growing fears that these new capabilities mean that North Korea’s aggressive military posture could now pose a risk to global security. This briefing examines those issues and the response of the international community ahead of a forthcoming debate in the House of Lords.

  • In Focus

    Organ donation in England and the UK: Statistics and law changes

    The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2019 introduced an opt-out system for organ donation in England. This means that it is generally presumed upon a person’s death that they consent to donate their organs unless they or their family indicate otherwise. This is also the arrangement in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This briefing discusses this policy change and presents recent statistics on organ donation in England and the UK.

  • In Focus

    Fire safety regulations: Reform for furniture and buildings in England

    The government has proposed changes to how fire safety standards for furniture and furnishings are regulated in England. Scientists and the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee have raised concerns that current regulations incentivise the use of flame-retardant chemicals, which have environmental and health impacts. The regulatory framework for fire safety in buildings in England has also been reformed following the Grenfell Tower fire and the Building Safety Act 2022.

  • In Focus

    The UK’s relationship with countries in Latin America

    Countries in Latin America are reported to have remained economically resilient over recent years, during a challenging set of global economic conditions. Nevertheless, growth in the region is expected to remain weak, contributing to a challenging environment for political incumbents. The UK government has stated its intention to increase its engagement with Latin America, strengthen trade and investment relations, and help the region amplify its voice in multilateral forums.

  • In Focus

    Strengthening family life in England: Archbishops’ Commission on Families and Households

    In April 2023, the Archbishops’ Commission on Families and Households published a report entitled ‘Love matters’. The commission examined how families and households in England could best flourish and called on the government and other institutions to put families at the centre of their thinking. In addition to proposals for Church of England action, the report included 29 recommendations for the government. These included supporting family hubs and developing high-quality marriage preparation.

  • In Focus

    Safeguarding in schools

    Staff and governing bodies in English schools have responsibilities to protect children from harm and help them to have the best outcomes. This is termed safeguarding. The government provides detailed safeguarding guidance for staff and governors that schools are required to follow. The government has updated this guidance in response to an increase in reports of child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment in recent years, which has occurred in the context of the widespread use of social media. The most recent guidance was issued in September 2023.

  • In Focus

    Autumn statement 2023: Key announcements and analysis

    The chancellor presented the autumn statement on 22 November 2023. He said that because of difficult decisions he had taken over the last year, he was able to announce tax cuts in support of boosting growth. However, the Office for Budget Responsibility noted that taxation as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) was still predicted to rise in each of the next five years to a post-war high of 38% of GDP in 2028/29. In addition, commentators have expressed concern that the funding for the tax measures has come at the expense of increased pressures on public services.

  • In Focus

    Free NHS prescriptions: Eligibility for benefit claimants

    In England, individuals in receipt of certain benefits or who meet specific criteria are eligible for free NHS prescriptions. The government have announced that they plan to terminate certain universal credit claims, and consequently revoke benefits such as free prescriptions, for those who fail to meet employment requirements. This has led to fears about its potential adverse impact on the health and wellbeing of affected individuals.

  • In Focus

    The 75th anniversary of the NHS: How is it doing?

    This briefing considers the performance of the NHS as it passes its 75-year anniversary. It includes statistics on waiting times, information on recent government policy, and commentary on suggested measures to improve NHS performance. It also contains a brief history of the NHS and links to further reading.

  • In Focus

    Early years education: Trends, issues and the impact of Covid-19

    Early years refers to the education and care a child receives between birth and five years old. In March 2023 there were over 63,000 registered childcare providers in England. Most were rated by Ofsted as either good or outstanding. However, the number of providers has been steadily declining since 2015. The sector is also characterised by high childcare costs for families, financial pressures for providers and issues recruiting and retaining high quality staff.

  • In Focus

    Life beyond Covid-19: Lords Covid-19 Committee’s recommendations for long-term resilience and wellbeing

    In a report published in early 2022, the House of Lords Covid-19 Committee called for a “reset” of the state through a new emphasis on governing for the long-term and a new focus on wellbeing. The committee’s recommendations spanned a range of policy areas, from addressing health disparities and supporting families through to expanding devolution and improving public service resilience and preparedness. The government responded to the committee’s recommendations in July 2022.

  • In Focus

    Peerages awarded to former UK prime ministers

    Former prime minister David Cameron was appointed to the House of Lords in November 2023 to serve as foreign secretary. This page lists former UK prime ministers who have held office since 1902, together with information on whether the individuals later received a peerage entitling them to sit in the House of Lords.