The Week Unwrapped: The male pill, consultants and a green trade war

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days. With Holden Frith, Leaf Arbuthnot and Cindy Yu.

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In this week’s episode, we discuss:

Male contraception

Scientists have developed a prototype male contraceptive pill – and this time they say it really could make it out of clinical trials. While previous similar attempts have focused on suppressing sperm production by reducing testosterone levels, the new pill renders sperm inactive. The practical result is that it works much faster, and can also be reversed much more quickly too. But will it catch on with men and their partners?

Consultants in government

Government departments have been accused of wasting taxpayers’ money by hiring too many consultants for what used to be core civil service tasks. The total bill came to £2.8bn last year, and outsourced projects included plans to build a new MoD submarine and the Home Office’s efforts to stop small boats crossing the Channel. Are external consultants good value for money, and if not, what are the alternatives?

Green protectionism

The EU said this week that it would not try to outspend the US in a race to subsidise green technology. European diplomats and business leaders have been unnerved by a series of recent announcements from electric car-makers which are planning to move production capacity to the US in order to benefit from subsidies introduced by Joe Biden last year. How will the EU – and the UK – respond?