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Inside: The General Election rundown, mayoral moves, and why sleep matters. View this email in your browser

All these polls are taxing

What the snap election means and what to watch, according to the think tanks.


1. Keeping the show on the road

On balance, the election won’t get in the way of Brexit negotiations. Oliver Ilott at Institute for Government

Watch out for quiet moves on National Insurance Contributions, state pension increases and grammar schools. Torsten Bell at Resolution Foundation

Launching his campaign, Corbyn’s laudable efforts to talk domestic policy was drowned out by “dreary” class rhetoric. Claudia Wood at Demos

The SNP is treating the election as a distraction - and will be campaigning on a second referendum. Akash Paun at Institute for Government

2. Look what Theresa May has done!

By seeking a policy mandate that could be larger than most European leaders, is Theresa May making a bid to lead the continent? David Marsh at the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum

A majority for Theresa May will force the House of Lords to acquiesce to the government’s Brexit programme, solving “a great constitutional question”. Bernard Jenkin at Politeia

Theresa May “is not only a determined political leader but she is also an accomplished parliamentarian”, etc. Kwasi Kwarteng at Politeia

The evaporating power of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act shows that “the UK has a fundamentally political constitution”. Alan Renwick at Constitution Unit

This election would empower a leader when it’s Parliament that needs a boost. Jeff King at the UK Constitutional Law Association

I told you so. Joe Zammit-Lucia at Radix

3. Watch out for dangerous distractions

Given the Conservatives’ commanding lead the media must look harder at policy - and the battle happening within parties. Charlie Beckett at LSE Polis

If this is a Brexit election, we’ll miss an important opportunity to agree a “new settlement on public services”. Adam Lent at NGLN

When it comes to public services, “vague promises of efficiency and reform will not cut it this time round”. Emily Andrews at Institute for Government

Brenda from Bristol’s electoral fatigue shows how choice has come before the good life. Nick Spencer at Theos

4. Breaking out of the echo chamber

Demos’ Centre for the Analysis of Social Media and Nesta’s Political Futures Tracker will be covering what’s happening on social media.

Quick Reads

Staying afloat. We want to build more warships, but the Royal Navy doesn’t seem to have learned how to get value for money from other ship buyers. Defence Synergia

New towns everywhere? A new amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill would give local authorities the power to buy land through development corporations. Civitas

Dig deep. John McDonnell’s proposed tax on those earning more that £70,000 per year would raise £2.5 and £5.2 billion a year in 2017/18 - but could provoke rampant ‘income shifting’. Institute for Public Policy Research

Where business are born. The UK has 205 incubators and 163 accelerators. Nesta

Leading from the front. Labour’s Steve Rotheram has a considerable advantage in Liverpool - but if he becomes Metro Mayor, how much can he battle a Conservative government? Centre for Cities

From over our heads. Cutting housing support for 18-21 year olds - as part of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit - is proving to be a bit of a mess, and up to 9000 people could be made homeless. Intergenerational Foundation

£11.08 Average hourly pay for Tees Valley residents is a pound less than the UK average. There are good jobs available, but not enough of them. Resolution Foundation

Reports

Alarming findings. Insufficient sleep is costing Japan 2.92 per cent of GDP, the USA 2.28 per cent and the UK 1.86 per cent, estimates this report. This is largely due to less worker productivity (equaling six working days per year). If employees are averaging less than six hours per night, mortality rates increase up to 13 per cent. Mental health problems are most likely to affect sleep, followed by commuting for longer than an hour, having financial concerns, being male, and separation from a partner. So what’s to be done? There’s a nod to France’s ban on out-of-hours work emails and Arianna Huffington-style napping facilities for employers. On the public health side, promoting exercise, moderating stimulant use including nicotine and introducing later school starts might help. For individuals, good ‘sleep hygiene’ - including using the bed for sleeping and banning devices - and a consistent wake-up time are the top recommendations. RAND Europe

Grid locked. One day late in March, for the first time, peak demand for energy in the UK was below the minimum the previous night. Solar energy had powered the country’s waking routine. On Saturday, no coal power fired the grid for the longest time since the industrial revolution. Energy consumers are leading the way towards distributed energy generation and flexible demand. A drop in the price of solar panels of 90 per cent since 2009, and of batteries of 65 per cent since 2010, mean that within three years it will make more economic sense for some businesses to leave the grid. The signs do not point to an orderly transition. Low prices in the wholesale market necessitate constant government intervention and create a bias towards large-scale energy technologies. Current tariffs encouraged producers to leave the grid, affecting poorer customers, and ultimately large producers who have failed to anticipate the costs of loss of business. Localised spikes in demand will cause brownouts. To do better, the UK could do with an independent energy system designer. A change in thinking is needed where we see small scale technologies as assets, rather than risks, to the grid where it comes to balancing demand. Where peak pricing is used to encourage system-friendly energy usage, it needs to be backed up by support for automated technology so consumers aren’t having to constantly manage their household energy consumption. Green Alliance

Bring the bill. For Parliament to function during Brexit, pass the necessary legislation and perform proper scrutiny requires a few special measures. First, let’s not mess around with the Great Repeal Bill - it’s “plausible” that it could have royal assent early next year. “Thousands of pages of statutes” David Davis estimates will need attention, and the Cabinet Office needs to prioritise, coordinate and schedule the passage of secondary legislation. It will be up to civil service policy teams and departmental lawyers to draft this, but if departments can work together to put it front of Parliament in an orderly way that would be a blessing. Confining this legislative tinkering to administrative issues will prevent time-consuming debates on the floor of the House. For large policy changes, such as new immigration and customs systems, new primary legislation is needed - around 10-15 bills may be required. Given that most Queen’s Speeches announce 20 bills, a lot of current business will need to be shelved, and parliamentarians will need to think carefully about how they can contribute effectively to scrutiny. Institute for Government

Not dinosaurs. Compared to similar-sized private companies, local councils will tend to have more business operations - 600-700 for a large metropolitan borough. They still provide 80 per cent of local public services. That’s why digital transformation holds a lot of promise, but in many authorities IT is a non-strategic function. A survey of 808 councillors, however, found 373 enthusiasts for big data, automation and technologically-driven change to services. 118 are sceptics, but 113 called themselves digital ‘champions’. Rather than adopting specific digital strategies, elements seem to be integrated into customer or modernisation strategies. Cabinet members are the most likely proponents, with little evidence of leadership from the top. To keep this agenda moving, a significant proportion of councillors want digital transformation written into devolution deals - alongside central government support to make it happen. LGiU

See also

Not just technological determinism. Debating the policy case for a basic income. RSA Radio

Payback time. The Government has made a successful exit from Lloyd’s Banking Group - getting back just over the £20.3 invested during the crisis, with a few more shares to sell. GOV.UK

Election conjugations. “We have the interests of the country in mind. You have the interests of your party in mind. They are hell-bent on pursuing their own interests.” Daily Mail

Rituals, tasks, stories. In what ways do organisations leave a mark on people? New York Times

 

Think Tanks

Don’t ask too many questions. How to host a Twitter chat. International Institute for Environment and Development

It’s debatable. A citizen’s assembly on Brexit. Constitution Unit

Jobs

Project Manager (Future of the Corporation). British Academy. London. £35k. Apply by 4 May.

Senior Digital Content Officer. Nuffield Trust. London. £29-32k. Apply by 10 May.

Senior Policy Officer. NCVO. London. £40k. Apply by 11 May.

Research Assistant/Research Associate. Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit. London. £30-36k. Apply by 11 May.

Data Science Research Fellow. Nesta for the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence. London. £50k. Apply by 16 May.

Email your vacancies to review@thinktankreview.co.uk and we’ll list them here for free.

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Compiled by Tom Jeffery
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