234 episodes

David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts and insiders present in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The Briefing Room BBC Radio 4

    • Podcasts
    • 4.8 • 44 Ratings

David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts and insiders present in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

    Britain's productivity puzzle

    Britain's productivity puzzle

    This week the new UK government is unveiling its first major package of economic measures. They're aimed at achieving what Prime Minister Liz Truss says is her number one priority: promoting economic growth. Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer has said he shares the same aspiration for Britain.

    But low growth is an entrenched problem, dating back decades. So why has the UK been performing so badly and what needs to be done to turn us into a high-growth country?

    Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are:
    Nicholas Crafts, Professor of Economic History at the University of Sussex Business School.
    Chris Giles, Economics Editor of The Financial Times.
    Anna Valero, Senior Policy Fellow at the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance.
    Paul Johnson, Director of The Institute For Fiscal Studies
    Duncan Weldon, Broadcaster and Author of “Two Hundred Years of Muddling Through”.

    Producers: Paul Connolly, Arlene Gregorius and Kirsteen Knight
    Editor: Richard Vadon
    Sound Engineer: Neil Churchill
    Production Co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed and Helena Warwick-Cross

    • 29 min
    Ukraine: Have we reached a turning point in the war?

    Ukraine: Have we reached a turning point in the war?

    Ukraine's military has retaken thousands of square kilometres of territory near the north-eastern city of Kharkiv. The Russians are said to have retreated in haste and disarray, but they retaliated by shelling a large power plant, causing blackouts in Kharkiv, the country's second biggest city.

    Is Ukraine's successful counter-offensive a turning point in the war? Could Ukraine win? Experts say Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, won't countenance defeat, and will escalate instead of retreating or suing for peace. Might Putin launch a tactical nuclear strike? Or use mobilisation or conscription for all-out war?

    Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are:

    - Vitaliy Shevchenko, Russia editor at BBC Monitoring and co-host of the BBC's Ukrainecast podcast
    - Michael Clarke, Professor of Defence studies and Specialist Advisor to the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy
    - Samantha de Bendern, Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House
    - Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King's College London
    - Shashank Joshi, Defence Editor of The Economist

    Producers: Paul Connolly, Arlene Gregorius and Kirsteen Knight
    Editor: Richard Vadon
    Sound engineer: Neil Churchill
    Production co-ordinator: Siobhan Reed and Helena Warwick-Cross

    Image credit: Anton Petrus/Getty Images

    • 29 min
    Can we keep the lights on this winter?

    Can we keep the lights on this winter?

    Soaring household bills have made energy the number one issue facing the government and consumers in Britain. But in addition to the cost, there may be another problem ahead as winter approaches. Experts are increasingly worried about the supply of both electricity and gas from Europe, and how that might affect the power system here.

    So how worried should we be about energy shortages? And what can the government do to limit their impact?

    Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are:
    Kathryn Porter, Energy Analyst at Watt Logic
    Javier Blas, Energy Columnist at Bloomberg
    Elisabetta Cornago, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Reform
    David Sheppard, Energy Editor at the Financial Times
    Michael Bradshaw, Professor of Global Energy at the University of Warwick.

    Producers: Paul Connolly, Kirsteen Knight and Simon Watts. Editor: Richard Vadon. Studio Manager: James Beard. Production co-ordinator: Helena Warwick-Cross.


    PHOTO: An electricity substation in East London (Daniel LEAL / AFP)

    • 29 min
    The staffing crisis in the NHS

    The staffing crisis in the NHS

    The NHS often appears to be in a state of permanent crisis. Recently, there've been headlines about long waiting times for ambulances and the huge backlog for routine surgery. Before that, the Health Service faced a two-year pandemic which may rear its head again this winter.

    But the NHS also has a big underlying problem. It has tens of thousands of vacancies for doctors, nurses and other medical workers – and that makes all the other pressures on the Health Service even harder to handle.

    So why does the NHS have a staffing problem? And what can be done to fix it?

    Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are:
    Annabelle Collins, Senior Correspondent at Health Service Journal
    Alison Leary, Professor of Healthcare and Workforce Modelling at London South Bank University
    Suzie Bailey, Director of Leadership and Organisational Development at The Kings Fund
    Mark Pearson, Deputy Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs at the OECD,
    Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust

    Producers: Bob Howard, Kirsteen Knight and Simon Watts. Editor: Tara McDermott. Studio Manager: Rod Farquhar. Production co-ordinator: Siobhan Reed.

    PHOTO CREDIT: (Getty Images)

    • 29 min
    Fighting drought

    Fighting drought

    Despite recent heavy rainfall, much of England is experiencing drought conditions. Both rivers and reservoirs are running low, and the water companies have told millions to stop using their hosepipes.

    Scientists warn that the current difficulties are only a glimpse of the much tougher challenges the UK will face in the future because of climate change. They estimate that there's a one-in-four chance of a drought which is so severe that drinking water has to be restricted.

    Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are:
    Sir John Armitt, Chairman of the UK's National Infrastructure Commission
    Dr Heather Smith, Senior Lecturer in Water Governance at Cranfield University
    Jean Spencer, Director of The Water Industry Forum
    Sir Dieter Helm, Professor of Economic Policy at Oxford University

    Producers: Bob Howard, Kirsteen Knight and Simon Watts. Editor: Richard Vadon. Studio Manager: Graham Puddifoot. Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed & Helena Warwick-Cross

    PHOTO CREDIT: A reservoir on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall in August 2022 (Getty Images)

    • 28 min
    The Cost of Living Crisis

    The Cost of Living Crisis

    There are growing calls for emergency measures to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Energy bills are now predicted to be hundreds of pounds higher than was expected just a few weeks ago. The Bank of England has increased interest rates, and warned of the twin threat of inflation and a recession.

    What policy options does the government have? How can ministers get help to the growing numbers of people forced to choose between heating and eating.

    Joining David Aaronovitch in The Briefing Room are:

    Felicity Hannah, consumer affairs journalist and BBC Moneybox presenter
    Nicole Sykes, director of Policy and Communications, Pro Bono Economics
    Nick Eyre, professor of Energy and Climate Change, Oxford University
    Gemma Tetlow, chief economist, Institute of Government
    Duncan Weldon, economist and author of Two Hundred Years of Muddling Through

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
44 Ratings

44 Ratings

phxroy ,

Excellent!

Terrific, quick primer on the topic, leaving you with an informed, working knowledge. I always look forward the podcast when I see it in my feed, as I know from several years consistent listening that it’s excellent! (A show on COVID in last six months left me with more nuanced information than I had learned elsewhere.)

avm1406 ,

5 stars

Outstanding. From diversity of topics to the unique format that moves from one expert providing the in-depth backstory to an engaging dialogue with a panel. Always learn something new even on widely reported stories.

AdiKharo ,

Brilliant

You end the podcast knowing more than when you started it. And you are engrossed in the topic along the way. Brilliant. Great topics, great interviewer, great guests.

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