Environmental Justice, Tony Benn and knitting

Karen Bell

Karen Bell

by Karen Bell, author of Achieving environmental justice: A cross-national analysis, publishing on 28 April.

After spending 30 years of my life engaged in research and activism (mainly activism) on environmental issues, it is a huge relief to find that now virtually everyone seems to know, think and care about the topic.  For years I, and similarly minded others, had to cope with, what Tony Benn describes as the path to progress, whereby ‘First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous’ before ‘…there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you’. Now almost everyone recognises that we face numerous environmental crises and solutions are being proposed from a vast range of concerned bodies, from oil companies (e.g. BP ‘alternative’ energy), to weapons manufacturers (e.g. Nammo lead-free ‘green’ bullets) to God (e.g. the Green Bible).

Of course, environmental problems are getting harder to ignore, especially following the wave of political and media attention that ensued when the floods hit the playing fields of Eton or as Deborah Orr put it in The Guardian, ‘the effluent … hit the affluent’.

Though the PM would have us believe the floods were caused by the Environment Agency, the vast majority have finally woken up to the fact that climate change is linked to human behaviour, more generally, and what’s more that it is an urgent issue, likely to affect everyone.  Therefore, now that everyone is taking at least one environmental problem – i.e. climate change – seriously, it would seem that I could stop all this research and activism, pass on the baton, take up a relaxing hobby like knitting and let everyone else ‘sort it out’.  But I haven’t been able to because a) we now only have about 20 years to prevent the imminent and irreversible overstep of the planetary boundaries within which humanity can safely live (Rockström et al, 2009) – not a situation conducive to restful activity of any kind; and b) the way the problem is generally being ‘sorted’ seems to be making things worse, not just for the environment, but for society as a whole, particularly the worst off.

So, instead of knitting an extremely long scarf, I wrote my first book Achieving environmental justice to explore what to do and to implore that we do it.  I have called the book ‘Achieving environmental justice’, rather than ‘Achieving environmental friendliness’, because I see the environmental crises we face as crises of social injustice.  They are about social justice because:

  1. Most of us are now living in unhealthy environments that poison and kill us
  2. The poorest and least powerful live in the unhealthiest environments
  3. The same poorest and least powerful are the least likely to have caused the environmental crises
  4. The solutions to the environmental crises being implemented sometimes intensify the problems of the poorest and least powerful
  5. The processes of environmental decision-making rarely include the poorest and least powerful

Focussing on these social justice issues, the book considers the extent, form and causes of environmental justice and injustice in a variety of countries, from the US, UK, Republic of Korea and Sweden to China, Bolivia and Cuba.  It also looks at the solutions to the environmental crises being implemented in each country, particularly evaluating the effectiveness of technological innovation and market-based mechanisms in comparison with more regulatory or redistributive approaches.

Some of the proposed solutions have comforting, win-win sounding names, such as ‘Green Economy’, ‘Geo-engineering’ and ‘Payments for Ecosystems Services’.  However, when these policies are examined from an environmental justice perspective, asking who benefits?, who decides?, and why?, many of the proposed solutions appear to be deeply concerning.  Hence, the book questions whether the widely applauded market-based solutions (e.g. South Korea’s Green Growth policy) are really effective and for whom; and compares their outcomes with that of more redistributive and regulatory policy approaches (e.g. Bolivia’s Living Well policy). I conclude that ‘green capitalist’ solutions are generally inadequate, ineffective and sometimes harmful because capitalism’s necessity for short term profit means that longer term consequences must be ignored.

Last week, the recent IPCC report again highlighted the threats to our health, homes, food and safety as a result of rising temperatures but it did not advocate radical social change.  Flash floods, 153 lightning strikes a minute, calling in the army, the PM in his wellies, whatever happens, we are still generally only willing to consider environmental policy that fits in with, or benefits, business.  This does not seem rational to me.  Hence, the book invites readers to consider that capitalism and markets may not be the answer to these crises and may well be the cause.  I am hoping to be called mad or dangerous as, at least (according to Tony Benn who I consider was right about most things) that will mean we will be on the path to progress and I will shortly be able to take up knitting.

Achieving environmental justice: A cross-national analysis is available with 20% discount at www.policypress.co.uk.

 

Reflections and recovery after the London Book Fair

Ann Moore

Ann Moore

Thoughts on the London Book Fair from Ann Moore, Sales and Distribution Manager at Policy Press.

Policy Press staff were at the London Book Fair last week and the weekend after is always a time to recover, reflect and, this year, reminisce as the fair was held in the iconic Earls Court exhibition centre for the very last time.

Earls Court has been a familiar venue for fair goers for a generation and many of the digital companies born over the past 10 years will not have known anywhere else for this important showcase and meeting place for our industry.

It is going to be demolished and replaced in phase one, with the building of residential homes and retail units plus open space areas in the new West Brompton Village plan. See Yvonne Rydin’s books, The purpose of planning and The future of planning and see how this new development fits with her thoughts on the vision for planning in the UK.

Earls Court

Earls Court

Making the most of the traditional 30 minute meeting slots at these events is an art that your staff have to learn. They are never long enough in most cases but may enable you to have that first face-to-face encounter with a new supplier or customer, sort that one outstanding query on a contract clause or addendum, close a new title rights deal and in many cases just enable you to continue to support those important ongoing relationships in the global marketplace we work in. And those are only the prearranged meetings! There are always chance meetings that lead to new opportunities and can be followed up on after the event. It also provides the perfect setting to meet and share information with other publishers of all sorts and sizes.

photo 2

Carl Fry (Sales Executive) and Ann Moore (Sales and Distribution Manager) in a meeting at the London Book Fair

Some of us have known previous sites for the fair, including the home for the 2015 event, Olympia, but the 30 million pound refurbishment of the venue will mean that it will not appear the same as it did 11 years ago. A promise of more space, natural light and new facilities makes it an encouraging prospect to hold our heavy schedule of meetings and networking opportunities within.

I would like to say thank you to all the wonderful people I met at the London Book Fair this year, many new and familiar faces among them, and for making the last three days in this grand old building such a vibrant, positive and inspiring place to be. See you in Olympia in 2015!

Ann Moore, Sales and Distribution Manager, Policy Press 

If you would like to get in touch with the Policy Press Sales Team, please email pp-sales@bristol.ac.uk.

Racism, anti-racism and social work

by Iain Ferguson and Michael Lavalette

A spectre is haunting Europe. It is the spectre of racism, xenophobia, and in some countries, outright Nazism. For Golden Dawn in Greece and the Jobbik Party in Hungary, there is little attempt to hide the associations with 1930s German National Socialism. These include overt anti-semitism, paramilitary marches, and the encouragement of violence against asylum seekers, immigrants and left-wing activists. At the time of writing, a member of Golden Dawn is being held in custody for the murder in September 2013 of Pavlos Fyssas, a rap singer and well-known anti-fascist activist in Greece. Elsewhere in Europe, racism wears a more respectable face. Parties such as the UK Independence Party in Britain or the various People’s Parties in Scandinavia have gained a degree of electoral support by playing on popular fears about waves of immigrants from Eastern Europe coming to the West solely in order to live off the benefits system. It is a rhetoric which, shamefully, is increasingly echoed by the leaders of mainstream political parties, both Conservative and social democratic.

In reality of course, the vast majority of immigrants are young, hard-working, ambitious, make less use of health services than the rest of the population and do the jobs that the local population refuse to do. The residential social care sector in Britain, for example, would collapse without the labour of people from the Philippines, South Africa and Poland. But that truth is lost in the deluge of anti-Roma, anti-Muslim and anti-asylum seeker propaganda pumped out on a daily basis by the tabloid press. In early October 2013, the bitter fruits of that propaganda, and of the increasingly restrictive immigration policies adopted by governments across Europe, were only too graphically demonstrated. Then, some 274 refugees from Eritrea and Somalia drowned when their overcrowded boat sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa. These were ordinary men, women and children fleeing war, torture and hunger in search of a better life for themselves and their families. But as a letter in the Guardian newspaper in the UK pointed out, responsibility for their deaths lies not just with the people smugglers but also with the exclusionary policies of Fortress Europe: ‘People-smuggling is the symptom and not the cause of migration. Tougher border controls, higher fences and more expensive surveillance systems won’t deal with the causes either. They will make things worse by driving more people into the perilous embrace of the smugglers. The causes of migration are overwhelmingly poverty, inequality and conflict’.

The main challenge to racism and fascism has come, and will continue to come, from parties of the Left, social movements and trade unions. In Greece, for example, following the murder of Pavlos, some ten thousand people demonstrated against Golden Dawn in the streets of Athens. In Britain, the anti-Muslim English Defence League is currently in crisis following the resignation of its two founders, a crisis provoked in large part by the fact that every time its supporters appeared on the streets they were physically challenged by much larger anti-fascist protests.

As individuals, social workers from Glasgow to Athens and all points between have participated in many of these demonstrations. But we also need to explore the implications of the growth of these new forms of racism for our social work practice. And here, it is important to learn the lessons of the past, both negative and positive.

Discussing the role of social work during the Nazi period, Walter Lorenz has commented on the use of social workers’ diagnostic skills to sort out the ‘deserving’ from the unworthy, the latter referring to those with mental illness or learning disabilities who would then be deemed eligible for compulsory sterilisation or worse. As Lorenz (2006) describes it:

Sticking to their professional task with the air of value neutrality and scientific detachment (especially after the ‘non-conforming’, ‘politically active’ social workers had been sacked or imprisoned) they did not feel responsible for the consequences of their assessments and may indeed not have been conscious of the full implications their work had in the national context (pp 34-35).

As Lorenz argues, the issue here was not only State coercion or lack of discretion but rather the understanding of their role which informed the practice of these workers:

The evil of a fascist approach to welfare had not emanated primarily from its collectivism and from the imposition of ideologically determined forms of practice (which social workers usually knew how to get round) but rather from the disjuncture of the political and professional discourse that prevented the ‘ordinary welfare workers’ from fully facing up to the consequences of their actions (p35).

If there is a lesson for today, it is surely that social work cannot respond to the growing tide of racism and xenophobia by hiding behind a mask of ‘professionalism’ which seeks to deny the political nature of our profession or pretend that somehow we are above the struggle.

A very different response to racism developed in the late 1980s. In that period, social workers and social work academics in the UK and elsewhere sought to develop forms of anti-racist theory and practice which challenged the ways in which racism shaped the mind-set of many white social workers on the one hand and blighted the lives of black and minority ethnic clients and communities on the other. The limitations of these approaches, above all their focus on personal racism at the expense of State and institutional racism, have been well-documented. Nevertheless, they were important in putting issues of racism and anti-racism on the social work education agenda in a way they had not been previously.

Race, racism and social work

Race, racism and social work

Recent publications have sought to develop new forms of social work theory and practice that can challenge the forms of racism that have emerged over the past decade and can defend multiculturalism (Lavalette and Penketh, 2013; see also Mahamdallie, 2011; Richardson, 2013). This is a very positive development. Critical and Radical Social Work welcomes papers on all aspects of racism and anti-racism in social work. These can include both analyses of current developments and also historical pieces which critically evaluate the role of mainstream social work in oppressive and racist regimes such as Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa as well as those highlighting examples of social work resistance which have until now been’ hidden from history’.

References
Lavalette, M. and Penketh, L. (eds.) (2013) Race, Racism and Social Work: Contemporary Issues and Debates, Bristol: Policy Press
Lorenz, W. (1993) Social Work in a Changing Europe, London: Routledge
Mahamdallie, H. (ed.) (2011) Defending Multiculturalism: a guide for the movement, London: Bookmarks
Richardson, B. (ed.) (2013) Say It Loud: Marxism and the Fight Against Racism, London: Bookmarks

Race, racism and social work, edited by Michael Lavalette and Laura Penketh, is available to buy with 20% discount from www.policypress.co.uk.

The Transport Debate: What a ‘normal’ family experiences in modern-day Britain

Iain Docherty

Iain Docherty

Jon Shaw

Jon Shaw

After several years almost out-of-sight, transport is creeping up the political agenda with government decision-making on projects such as HS2 being vigorously scrutinised as never before. The transport debate is a genuinely novel approach to thinking through the choices that face individuals and society, using the familiar idea of the journey as the basis for discussion. The featured journeys – the commute, the school run, the business trip, the family visit and the summer holiday – are made by members of the fictional Smith family, who uncover a wide array of transport issues as they travel around middle England and beyond. The Smiths face up to the very same problems we all encounter as we travel around, and reflect on their experiences to start to think about why they actually come about; which policy trade-offs were responsible for creating them in the first place; what impacts we all have to suffer as a result; and what we can do to fix them.

The Commute
The central character Paul, the archetypal ‘Motorway Man’ on whom the outcome of the 2010 General Election was said to have hinged, used to drive the eight miles to and from work along the motorway each day. But Paul now takes the train to work most of the time: not because of anything that transport policy did, or that the rail service improved or even because the rising cost of petrol made him think about alternatives, but instead because his doctors implored him to get more exercise as well as giving up smoking and watching his diet. At first he found even the 10-minute walk either end of the train trip a chore, but he knew that just by taking the train to work he was building in more than the half hour’s exercise per day that he’d been told to aim for. Once he mastered the iPod the children bought him last Christmas, his morning and evening walks have become even became enjoyable.

His wife Susan, on the other hand, remains a die-hard driver. Her typical day begins with the school run, and then more battling through the traffic to her office on the edge of town. When Susan first began this commute the main road out to the business park was nice and quiet, and had a 40 mph limit. But when that new supermarket was built and it needed a big roundabout that slowed everything down … To add insult to injury, the road now has a 30 mph limit and bus lanes – bus lanes! – for much of its length. Stuck in a longer than usual queue one day, she stares at the empty red tarmac and concludes that every planner in the land is out to get her with their trendy ideas.

But it’s not until one unfortunate morning when both of the Smith’s cars are out of action that Susan is confronted with the everyday reality for people like her office cleaner who don’t have a car in the first place. Going in one direction to school and then the other to work seems almost impossible because the buses don’t seem to join up, so Susan ends up resorting to taxis and lift sharing. Being without her car is discomfiting, but the experience forces her to consider why the family’s life is organized the way it is. Securing a place requested for Sophie in a school with better results has certainly seemed to help her education. But the short walk to the school gates of old has been replaced by a much longer car trip in the opposite direction from work. And why does everybody have to be in the office at the same time each day anyway? It’s not as if lots of work couldn’t be done from home now, and that would make things much easier on days when things go wrong.

The Business Trip
Once a month, Paul makes the trip to this company HQ in London Docklands. Today, unimpressed with the idea of his usual walk to the station in a near-monsoon, he decides to get the bus. Paul likes to think of himself as reasonably tech-savvy and quickly checks the timetable online finding a bus in a few minutes that will do the trick. As he puts his phone away, he wonders why, in the days of video conferencing and Skype, his company still spends a load of money sending people from all over the place to sit around the same table for a few hours. But as his boss, John, once neatly summarized in his southern American drawl, face-to-face communication remains important in the digital age because ‘I need to see the whites of your eyes when you give me bad figures, dude’.

Paul’s journey to London turns out to be far removed from the ‘seamless’ experience that recent newspaper articles about improved public transport promised. He gets to the bus stop with a couple of minutes to spare according to the timetable only to see the tail-lights of a bus disappearing into the distance. Another one doesn’t show up until just after 7.15 and now he’s getting nervous about catching his train. Without really thinking he flashes his rail season ticket at the bus driver, who looks quizzically back. ‘That’s your train ticket, sir; it’s years since we did travelcards for the buses and trains on this route. If you’re going to the station, that’ll be £1.70.’ Paul fumbles around in his pocket, holding up the bus in the process of finding the correct change. Once sat down, he wonders why it’s all so different in London where everyone just taps in and out with an Oyster card.

Paul’s journey goes from bad to worse as he experiences the perils of our fragmented railway: pressed for time he forgot to get his London ticket from the machine at his local station, and as his train spends a long time limping into Birmingham New Street he’s only got a couple of minutes to get to the FastTicket machine and back to the platform. When he does so, the inevitable has happened: the doors have just closed, the member of platform staff offers an apologetic shake of the head, and the Pendolino eases off into the tunnel. When the train manager comes round Paul finds out that he’ll have to buy a new walk-on ticket for his journey since his apex ticket was only valid on the previous train. Amazed at the high prices, and realising he may well have to pay for the replacement ticket himself, Paul somewhat ignominiously walks out of First class and heads for Standard class. But hardly any of the seats have proper tables and there are no power sockets available. As he forgot to charge his laptop, he has to give up on his presentation, sleep replacing work for the next hour.

The Summer Holiday
All of the children are excited about the family holiday, even though it would not be cool for Jack to admit it and Sophie’s been telling all her friends that she’d rather be going on a party trip to Malia. Given that Sophie will be 18 next year, this may well be the last time that they all get to go on this kind of holiday together. So Paul and Susan decided the family should all go to the south of France together, a place that Paul and Susan visited twice before the children arrived, and loved.

At Heathrow, conversation turns to how busy the airport is and the amount of construction going on. Paul wonders if the go-ahead for the third runway has already in fact been given; and with the amount of time their plane spends waiting for a take-off slot, once airborne, the whole family is in agreement that it would be a good idea. Looking down at thousands of suburban houses just like the Smiths’ own, Paul wonders what the noise must be like for people living under the flight path.

The sun shines on the Cote d’Azur for the whole of the Smiths’ holiday and Paul and Susan’s stresses well and truly drift away. During the second week of the holiday, even Susan gets a bit tired of the beach and joins Paul for a day wandering around Nice. They can’t help but be impressed by the modern tram system and come across an exhibition about the construction of a new line. But it’s the quality of the public spaces and the extent of pedestrianisation that most surprises and delights them both – what a great place to walk around for the day spending money in the shops and cafés.

The following day it is with heavy hearts that everyone packs up their things and ambles to the station to begin the journey home. Tanned and reinvigorated after two weeks of sun and Mediterranean food and drink, the family boards the TGV for their final couple of days in Paris. A friend had suggested that the Smiths should go home by rail rather than fly. Of course they thought this was a ludicrous idea until they found out just how quick it was, and that they could get bargain fares by booking early. The family can’t believe how smooth the ride is at nearly 200 mph as the train roars past the Burgundy vineyards, and as they head north at such speed, Paul’s mind drifts back to the bumpy and cramped hours in a Pendolino that he endures every month. ‘Why is it that everything seems to cost more in Britain but the service quality isn’t so good?” he thinks, putting his earphones back in.

Sorry for any inconvenience caused
In the book, there is more about these and the other journeys that the Smiths make as they go about their daily lives. They begin to realize that the choices they make about how to travel, and how well the transport system meets their needs and wants, reveals much about our collective assumptions on how the economy works, and how transport can best contribute. Thinking through the interaction of these economic, social and environmental benefits and costs in the round, the authors arrive at three rather fundamental questions that illuminate The Transport Debate as we find it in the UK: first, what is it, actually, that we want our transport systems to do? Second, what is the optimal balance between the different kinds of benefits and costs that arise from our transport systems? Third, how do we set about achieving this balance?

Throughout the book, the authors celebrate the advantages of a modern transport system, but argue that years of poorly conceived and executed transport policy have resulted in Britain’s transport system being far worse than it should be. They show that substandard transport creates economic, social and environmental costs, but also how these can be addressed through affordable and politically deliverable changes.

The transport debate was published in January 2014 by Policy Press at the University of Bristol. Jon Shaw is Professor and Head of Geography with Plymouth University. Iain Docherty is Professor of Public Policy and Governance and Head of Management at the University of Glasgow.

Reproduced with kind permission of the authors and Transport Times.

Police and Fatal Shootings

Maurice Punch

Maurice Punch

by Maurice Punch, author of Shoot to Kill

A fatal shooting is the ultimate in police use of power. Hence it is vital to achieve clarity and transparency on the reasons for it to ensure trust on the police use of firearms. After the massacre at Hungerford (1987) British policing became semi-armed: and the standard approach was geared to restraint, firing single rounds and aiming for the body mass – to stop and not to kill. That changed dramatically at Stockwell in 2005 when Met officers shot dead Jean-Charles de Menezes at point-blank range with several hollow-point bullets to the head. This can only be fatal and was indisputably “shooting to kill”. It raised a host of issues but the police and the Home Office went silent and have managed to avoid a fundamental debate. What should have been explored was:

- the law, national policy, operational guidelines, tactics, weapons and ammunition;
- the operational chain of risk assessment, briefing, encounters, post-incident evaluation and accountability;
- and the aftermath of a fatal shooting regarding support for family and friends, informing stakeholders and the media and cooperating with investigations.

If this had been brought unambiguously into the public domain after Stockwell it would have proved valuable in the current controversy surrounding the Mark Duggan shooting. We now need to know what has been determining the Met`s firearm`s policy and tactics. CO19, for instance, has become highly professional and skilled. To what extent is this a “militarization” of policing – written about extensively in the US – and has it altered the ground rules? Could it be that the Home Secretary`s priority on cutting crime, the Mayor`s emphasis on swift results and the Commissioners “total policing” have pressured officers and hardened tactics?

This is particularly relevant when the police get it wrong with irreversible consequences. Some of the most serious disturbances in the US have been when police have shot dead young black men who were unarmed. This also forms the key issue in the shooting of Duggan: was he unarmed at the moment he was shot? Thanks to the restraint of the Duggan family following the inquest verdict – and the proactive Met approach – there has been none of the mass violence that occurred in 2011. But this case raises two important factors:

Firstly, there are the objective elements about the context, risk assessment, equipment, briefing (was it recorded?) and the actual encounter. These are important in assessing the nature of the assignment, the appropriateness of the “hard-stop” tactic and whether alternatives were considered.

Secondly, there is the subjective experience of the officers. The evidence on firearms use is that there is always a degree of visual and aural distortion. In seemingly life-threatening situations any implement, a piece of a hoover in one case, viewed as a weapon – or a sudden gesture can lead to an officer firing, with the defence of a reasonable fear of fatal danger. The officer may even become convinced that there was a weapon when none was present. Officers do misperceive the threat in the split-seconds of a shooting and this will continue to happen however hard they train.

The conflict in assessing liability then comes from this tension between the objective factors and the subjective experience of the officer. Inquests and juries having seen and heard the evidence are burdened with assessing the validity of the latter – and a head-camera can`t look inside an officer`s mind – and tend to side with the officer`s account, to the disbelief of relatives and friends of the victim and the media.

Politicians and the police have kept the profound and unresolved implications of Stockwell out of the public arena. If they had taken the opportunity to inform the public fully on police use of firearms it might have defused the controversy and turbulence around the disputed shooting of Duggan.

Maurice Punch, 11-01-14, Amstelveen, The Netherlands.

Personal health budgets in long term health care: how will the NHS adapt

Vidhya Alakeson

Vidhya Alakeson

by Vidhya Alakeson, author of Delivering personal health budgets: A guide to policy and practice, published this week 

Luke has Batten’s disease, a rare degenerative condition which means that he needs day-to-day support from a team of six. For six years, he worked with the same team employed by his family, using a direct payment from the local authority. But when Luke turned 18 and his care transferred from Children’s Services to NHS Continuing Healthcare, his family was told that they could no longer employ the team they knew. The NHS would instead select an agency to care for Luke and his family would no longer be in control.

Fortunately, from April this year, fewer families should find themselves in the distressing situation that Luke and his family experienced, thanks to the introduction of personal health budgets. From April, the 56,000 people like Luke with significant health and support needs who qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare will have the right to ask for a personal health budget rather than receive care commissioned on their behalf by the NHS. From October this year, that right will be strengthened further into a right to have a personal health budget.

Personal budgets have become an established part of the landscape in social care. The same approach is now being extended into the NHS to provide individuals with long term conditions and disabilities greater choice and control over how their healthcare is delivered. Personal health budgets allow them to decide how best to meet their own needs with the resources the NHS allocates to them. For some people, small changes, such as having care staff come to their home at a different time of day, make a significant difference. Others want to make bigger changes, putting together a different mix of services and supports from the one the NHS would purchase for them.

A three year national pilot programme compared outcomes for 1000 people with a personal health budget across a range of conditions, and a control group of 1000 people receiving care commissioned as normal by the NHS. The evaluation found that individuals with personal health budgets had a better quality of life and better psychological well being than those in the control group. Taking control did not result in budget holders experiencing any deterioration in their clinical health. In fact, budget holders made less use than those in the control group of other NHS services such as Inpatient, Accident and Emergency and GP services.

However, the evaluation was also very clear that the way in which personal health budgets are implemented can determine whether or not they have a positive impact. Personal health budgets must offer real choice and flexibility to allow individuals to maximise their creativity and not bind people to pre-determined menus or clinical notions of evidence-based practice. Delivering personal health budgets offers a definitive guide of how to make personal health budgets work well for people, as well as setting out for clinicians and commissioners the positive role they can play in improving the management of long term conditions.

Delivering personal health budgets: A guide to policy and practice by Vidhya Alakeson is now available with 20% discount at www.policypress.co.uk

The 7.39, mobile communication and train travel

REPLACEMENT_The transport debate [FC]What people do with their time on the train has suddenly become the subject of some rather animated discussion following the airing of the BBC drama The 7.39 this week. Whilst we’re not aware of any research into the prevalence of illicit relationship formation during the morning commute (!), in the last few years academic attention has turned to wider questions about how people structure their lives around the journeys they make. As part of this, we’ve begun to challenge some longstanding assumptions about how and why we travel in the ways that we do. Particularly important is the revolution in information technology represented by smartphones, tablets and the mobile internet, which is transforming our travel choices. There is even some emerging evidence that being able to remain connected to friends and families (not to mention s/he at the other end of the carriage studiously avoiding eye contact but with whom you have just spent the night) online whilst travelling is now more important to many people than owning a car, something that could have profound implications for future transport policy. As it might also do for the future prospects of middle aged property executives with a habit of leaving their phones lying around.

Jon Shaw and Iain Docherty’s The transport debate, which explores transport policy in the UK by following the journeys of another fictional suburban couple as they go about their everyday lives, is now available from Policy Press.


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