May was a weird month for Bitcoin – it included a price dip of 15 per cent weeks ago. Yet the cryptocurrency is not going away any time soon, and as Christian Keroles wrote at the beginning of the month, the UK should find a coherent approach to deal with it. The Chancellor could take inspiration from Gibraltar, where new regulations are strengthening the integrity of the markets in which Bitcoin operates – creating clear rules without stifling innovation.
Ultimately, it’s not tax breaks or freeports that will bring Bitcoin investors and entrepreneurs flocking to the UK: it’s the knowledge that the government understands the field.Christian Keroles
Recession was a big word this month, as the Bank of England announced that it could come to haunt us by the end of 2022. According to Tom Spencer, much of the blame should be laid at the door of the Conservative governments that have got us here. Tax reforms done without a long-term outlook and a lack of bold and innovative ideas in innovation, housing and many other areas have created a perfect storm – and we’re stuck in it.
What we need is someone, anyone, prepared to do what it takes to create growth and make ourselves a more productive nation again.Tom Spencer
Somewhere else in the world, May also marked the election of John Lee as Hong Kong’s chief executive. Lord Alton of Liverpool wrote that this sham election will mark more brutality, less freedom, and a stronger pivot to Beijing. Lee has been a key figure in the fight against protesters when he was security chief. Several countries in Europe and elsewhere have expressed their contempt for Lee’s election – but what Hongkongers really need are actions, not empty words.
The British government must make clear that the continuation of the regime’s policies is unacceptable for all of us who believe in freedom and democracy, especially those still in Hong Kong.Lord Alton of Liverpool
A key topic this month was also the government’s obesity policy. When Boris Johnson performed another of his u-turns – this time on the ban on “buy one get one free deals” and on a ban on junk food ads on TV before 9pm – Elena Siniscalco wrote that the government lacks any sort of consistency on obesity. After implementing the controversial policy of calorie labelling on menus in April, backtracking on these key measures shows fear of being perceived as the “nanny state”. Yet without thought-through policy making the costly obesity crisis will only worsen in an unsustainable way.
Excess weight is 9 per cent points higher in the most deprived areas of England – testament to the fact that it’s often not about choice, but about hardship.Elena Siniscalco
Last but not least, Brian Brodie wrote about “loan sharks” – illegal lenders who pray on people who for whatever reason don’t have access to legal credit. The lending industry is part of the problem – in fact four in five victims of hidden debt that have applied for legal credit have been rejected – so it must also be part of the solution. Diversifying products to make sure more people have access is only the first of several much needed steps.
Loan sharks take many forms, from community-based lenders operating in estates to fully-fledged organised crime groups seeking out the most vulnerable.Brian Brodie