I arrived in London on the 29th of December and was welcomed with a frost covering the city and plummeting temperatures. What a contrast to the hot and humid land down under!
I was lucky enough to spend New Year’s Eve with friends of mine in London. We spent the day out and about in the bustling city enjoying the excited atmosphere and good food on offer at a local pub. The evening was relaxed and we caught the midnight fireworks, however my jet lag put me to bed soon after!
The Centre for Policy Studies is in the heart of Westminster, a short walk from Big Ben, the London Eye, the River Thames and Westminster Abbey! My first week at the CPS was shortened due to the Monday public holiday for the New Year, but we got straight into work upon my arrival.
After meeting the friendly team, I was given a desk in the office with James Pilditch, the editor for the CPS, and Daniel Mahoney, the head economic researcher. Straight away I was tasked with monitoring the other think tanks in London. I gathered information about their blog posts, recent publications and future events to inform all the staff at the CPS and our neighbours, CapX.
Daniel asked me to think about an area of interest I would like to research and write about. I’m interested in comparing the Barnett formula to the Australian equivalent of the GST distribution through the Commonwealth Grants Commission. The Barnett formula is used in the UK to transfer payments to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland based on expenditure on government services in England.
The Barnett formula is quite unpopular and due for reform but after some initial analysis, I believe moving in the direction of the Australian system would be a mistake. I’m looking forward to further research and producing a thoughtful piece on how the UK can learn from us, as well as how Australia could modify our system to become more efficient in the future.
I’m also currently researching UK foreign aid for Daniel, addressing the 0.7% target of GNI and how this may impact the effectiveness of aid spending, as well as comparing the effectiveness of bilateral and multilateral aid.
The first week has been a whirlwind. I’m planning to visit the Tower of London and the Natural History Museum on the weekend. There is so much to do here you really have to plan ahead or you may be struck by indecision!
Looking forward to another exciting and busy week.