One of the biggest cash prizes in world economics has been launched to find “radical ideas” to reinvigorate the British economy.
Launched against a backdrop of deep public distrust in politicians to revitalise the UK economy, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) thinktank has lined up a £150,000 prize fund to uncover fresh ideas.
It comes after growth figures revealed at the budget show economic growth in Britain has dropped to among the lowest levels in the G7, while inequalityhas risen and there are growing pressures on the environment.
Believed to be the third-biggest prize in international economics, the new IPPR prize will reward policy solutions to tackle these problems, while forcing a “step change in the quality and quantity of the UK’s economic growth.”
It will include a single main prize of £100,000, placing it among the most lucrative prizes in the economics profession after the 9m Swedish krona (£760,455) Nobel award from the Swedish central bank and the £250,000 Wolfson prize, which was launched in 2011 by the Tory peer and Next chief executive Simon Wolfson.
The IPPR economics prize – supported by the prominent Labour donor and Brexit campaigner John Mills – will also have a dedicated under-25s prize worth £25,000, and a runners-up prize pot of £25,000.
Mills, who is the founder of the JML consumer products company, said that Britain faced a “toxic cocktail of issues that need fresh solutions,” adding that growth has recently been 60% lower than the G20 average.
“We are falling further behind every year. Our productivity is poor, levels of investment are meagre, and we cannot pay our way in the world,” he added.
According to opinion polling on the economy commissioned by the IPPR, almost four fifths of Britons would describe the current crop of “leading politicians” from across the political divide as stale and unimaginative.
Fewer than a quarter of people in the poll, which was conducted from more than 1,400 Sky customers, said they were confident that the government could come up with new ideas required to boost economic growth.
Fewer than a quarter of people were confident that the current government could come up with the right solutions, while more than 80% of those who voted either Conservative or Labour at the last election said UK politicians were unimaginative.
Although launched by the centre-left IPPR, the winner of the new economics prize will be selected by a panel of senior business leaders and economists, chaired by Stephanie Flanders, the head of economics at Bloomberg.
Mills will sit on the panel, alongside other judges including Helena Morrissey, the prominent City fund manager, Shriti Vadera, the chair of Santander UK, and John Eatwell, who is president of Queen’s College, Cambridge.
It comes after the IPPR’s commission on economic justice, which included Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, called for a far-reaching and radical revamp of the UK economy to raise the standard of living of millions of workers.
With a deadline of 6 January 2019, entrants for the economics prize will be asked to answer the question: “What would be your radical plan to force a step change in the quality and quantity of the UK’s economic growth?”