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Birkbeck BEI students win Institute of Economic Affairs prize

Charles Shaw and Daniel Pycock from Birkbeck’s Department of Economics, Maths and Statistics have received the Highly Commended Prize in a competition to find a policy proposal that could solve the UK housing crisis.

Two graduate students based at Birkbeck’s School of Business, Economics and Informatics have won a prize at an Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) competition to find a ‘free market breakthrough’ to solve the UK housing crisis.

The competition, supported by entrepreneur Richard Koch, challenged applicants to find the ‘best and boldest’ solutions to the housing problem. It was judged by a panel including Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Richard Koch, and Mark Littlewood, Director General at the IEA.

Charles Shaw, who is studying an MSc Financial Risk Management and Daniel Pycock, who is studying the Graduate Diploma of Economics, were awarded the Highly Commended Prize for their entry 'Simplified Planning Zones and Local Incentives.' Alongside the prize money awarded, their submission was commended by the judging panel as an example of sound economics applied to an important policy issue.

Their essay argued that the UK’s land-use policies and fiscal incentives distort the housing market, while the planning system adversely affects housebuilding and homeownership. Their proposed system of Simplified Planning Zones would eliminate the need for land-use planning permission, and exclude other complications from planning permission for development. 

Commenting on the prize, Charles said: "Housing is arguably the most important policy issue for the UK after Brexit, and this competition was designed to encourage fresh thinking on how we can find a new, market-based policy to alleviate the UK’s housing crisis. Both Daniel and I are honoured to accept the Highly Commended award. We are also delighted to be able to share our ideas on housing policy and free-market economics with a wider audience through the IEA. There has never been a better time to study economics, and our studies in the Department of Economics, Mathematics, and Statistics have equipped us with the right tools to aid the understanding of contemporary economic issues."

Their submission competed against nearly 350 entries from around the world, making it the most highly contested year yet. 

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