The welfare myth of them and us

Read the complete preface to the second edition of John Hill’s influential Good times, bad times below. This ground-breaking book uses extensive research and survey evidence to challenge the myth that the population divides into those who benefit from the welfare state and those who pay into it – ‘skivers’ and ‘strivers’, ‘them’ and ‘us’. 

John Hills (small)

John Hills

Good times, bad times was completed in 2014. A great deal has happened in UK politics and policy since then, not least the election of a majority Conservative government led by David Cameron in May 2015, the result of the referendum in June 2016 for Britain to leave the European Union, and the subsequent appointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister in July 2016.

Through all of this, the issues discussed in this book have remained central. One of its themes is the way that our lives are ever-changing.

Sometimes this is simply because we get older, we form – and dissolve – marriages and other partnerships, children are born, and they leave home.

But it is also because we move in and out of work, change and lose jobs, and what comes in from work and other sources can change not just from year to- year with our careers, but also from month-to-month, or even day-to-day, in ways highlighted by the spread of ‘zero hours contracts’.

Our needs – for education and for health and social care – change as we grow older, but also with the fluctuations in our state of health.

“Much popular debate assumes that people’s lives are unchanging.”

But despite this, much popular debate assumes that people’s lives are unchanging, and that we can be divided neatly between those who pay into the ‘welfare’ system, and those who take out from it. Allied with the escalating stigma that has been attached to those who are at any one moment receiving benefits and the notion that a large share of public spending goes on people who are out of work, this makes further savings from ‘welfare cuts’ sound attractive – and politically costless, since those affected will be ‘them’ rather than the ‘us’ voters are assumed to be.

‘Welfare savings’

Built into the successful Conservative 2015 election manifesto was therefore a pledge to find a further £12 billion of ‘welfare savings’. This was carried through by the then Chancellor George Osborne’s July Budget, which set out cuts that would reduce spending on working-age benefits and tax credits by what added up to £13 billion per year by 2020.

But in the months that followed reality broke in.

Making cuts on this scale – and getting them in place fast, well ahead of the run-up to the next election – turned out to mean the threat of big overnight cuts in income from tax credits to many families that were ‘doing the right thing’ – just the kind of ‘hard working families’ that had been persuaded someone else could be the subject of this austerity.

“This retreat was in many ways a stay of execution, not a full reprieve.”

Through the second half of 2016 pressure groups, think tanks, alarmed tax credit recipients and eventually parliamentarians in both the Lords and Commons began to realise the scale of what had been planned for the spring of 2017. The government retreated, and existing tax credit recipients were ‘protected’.

But what needs to be understood is that this retreat was in many ways a stay of execution, not a full reprieve. The very dynamics of people’s lives with which this book is concerned mean that there is constant turnover in who receives in-work support and therefore continues to be protected.

As new people try to claim – including those who had higher pay for just a while, as well as those who would have become eligible for the first time – they will enter a system meaner than the one from which predecessors in the same position would have benefited.

This will affect in particular those getting the new ‘Universal Credit’, as it is slowly rolled out in a much less generous form than originally advertised (see Chapter 4).

Despite the political rhetoric that has stressed things like the irresponsibility of people with more than two children looking to the state for support, as if those with teenagers could have foreseen the events of the last decade, the government itself knows that these dynamics mean most of the originally planned welfare savings will still occur – pencilling in only half a billion pounds of cost from the concessions remaining by 2020–21.

With new cuts – such as tougher limits to Housing Benefit for social tenants – the government still forecasts at least £12 billion of savings a year by the time of the next election, if that comes in 2020, only slightly ameliorated by adjustments announced in the 2017 Autumn Statement.

Politically, it will be interesting to see whether this quieter, but more drawn-out, austerity strategy will stay under the radar. But for the individuals and families affected, the lower income will be all too apparent – and so, eventually, will be its effects on poverty, particularly for children in larger families and their parents.

A period of uncertainty

In fact, the cuts – and with them the hardship – may now be greater than originally planned, after allowing for inflation. The immediate effect of the Brexit vote to leave the European Union was a sharp drop in the value of the pound.

“Each 1 per cent increase in prices means a 1 per cent fall in their real value.”

The likely effect of this is higher inflation and a greater cost of living. But with working-age benefits and tax credits frozen in cash as part of the July 2015 cuts, each 1 per cent increase in prices means a 1 per cent fall in their real value. Without any new announcement, this quietly generates further cuts in the generosity of the system designed to protect people from bad times when they occur.

Of course, higher inflation could also mean pay rises to keep pace, and then rising tax revenue in cash terms, which could be used to offset this overshoot. But if Brexit does turn out to mean the economy is smaller than it would otherwise have been, and so public finances are weaker, this link may not be very apparent.

Alongside this, however, another kind of risk we run as our lives change – healthcare needs and how to cover them – looms ever larger. Indeed, the alleged £350 million per week for the NHS promised by those arguing for Brexit before the referendum tapped exactly into that awareness.

The bulk of spending on the welfare state goes on the widely spread services of healthcare, schools and pensions (see Chapter 9) that come into play at particular stages in our lives. If these continue to be at least, relatively speaking, protected, the dominance of ‘life cycle redistribution’ as opposed to ‘Robin Hood redistribution’ between rich and poor will be further reinforced (see Chapter 3).

The new Prime Minister Theresa May said, as she entered 10 Downing Street, that she would fight ‘the burning injustice’ that those born poor live nine years less than others. Wider aspects of links between generations – what Chapter 7 describes as the ‘longest wave’ in our lives – have been given greater prominence under the heading of ‘promoting social mobility’.

The importance of better understanding the evidence surveyed in this book thus seems greater than ever after the turmoil of the last two years.

But there are now more recent data for many of the graphs and analysis that it presents, and so while most of the text is unchanged from the first edition, many of the figures and numbers have been updated. Where there have been more substantial policy changes, these have also been taken into account – such as to the plans for Universal Credit (Chapter 4) or the pattern of austerity (Chapter 8).

If anyone needed a reminder that life is far from static, it was given by the effects of referendum night in June 2016 on all our anticipated futures and on the immediate fortunes of our most powerful politicians.

More than ever as we enter a period of huge uncertainty, we need to better understand what we are arguing about and who really benefits from and pays for the systems we have designed to cope with risks and uncertainties. This book aims to bring the evidence that could underpin that understanding to a wider audience.

John Hills
London School of Economics

9781447336471Good times, bad times by John Hills can be ordered here for £10.39.

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Open access: A publisher’s perspective

Julia Mortimer, Assistant Director of Policy Press/University of Bristol Press, explores the benefits, opportunities and challenges of open access (OA), one of the most significant publishing developments since the invention of the printing press.  

Julia Mortimer

Julia Mortimer

 

Unleashing potential

There have been extraordinary benefits from OA in furthering scientific endeavour, innovation, business development and public knowledge. Lives have been saved because medical research and datasets have been openly available. Digital access has made this all possible and has enabled research outputs to reach a broader audience beyond a paywall.

For Policy Press, and the newly created University of Bristol Press, as a not-for-profit publisher with a social mission, OA is crucial in helping the work we publish have a greater impact on society and for public good.

Just some of the benefits to authors are:

Visibility & impact: OA makes research more widely and easily visible to researchers, practitioners and policy makers.

Usage: A number of studies and reports have shown that OA journal articles are viewed more often than articles available only to subscribers (See this article in the BMJ for example).

Collaboration: OA publication fosters greater dialogue across disciplinary and geographical boundaries.

Social Justice: OA reduces inequalities in access to knowledge due to lack of institutional funding.

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All change

OA has created radical change in the publishing industry and has turned the supply chain on its head. The target audience shifts from reader to author and publishing infrastructures all geared towards selling to libraries and bookshops have needed drastically reassessing.

Introducing OA means publishers have to implement new processes and invest in new systems – this is much more challenging for traditional publishers who are managing OA alongside their existing processes than for OA start-up publishers.

It is also certainly not a case of ‘make everything open and people will find it’. Marketing OA content is arguably more important than marketing other types of content, since it may conversely be harder to find due to problems with integrating OA into discovery tools.

Emerging from journals publishing, OA is starting to gain far more importance for books now too. Monographic and book submissions for the next REF (sometime in the late 2020s) will have to be available in an OA form. This represents a sea change for humanities and social science book publishers (to set it in context, currently only around 5% of history books are published in some kind of OA form).

Why isn’t OA free?

It’s important to note that OA isn’t the same as free (a common misconception). Free content is made available at the discretion of the publisher, is free to access (often temporarily), but not free to reproduce, sell or modify. OA content is both forever free to access and reuse, and sometimes sell or modify (depending on the conditions of the specific Creative Commons licence that is applied).

The costs of publishing OA are hidden from the reader so the perception is often that there is no cost. In many discussions of OA and the backlash against the large corporate publishers the important role publishers play in production and dissemination is often overlooked.

It’s true to say that as much work goes into publishing an OA article or book as one in a traditional format. Read 96 things publishers do on The Scholarly Kitchen for an insight. In fact, digital means we now do more than we ever have done – not less.

In brief publish OA with us and we will:

• Provide support and guidance during the commissioning stage of a product, substantially helping to shape the final product and continuing help throughout the publishing process;

• Manage peer review and feedback and offer further guidance;

• Carry out copyediting, proof-reading, typesetting and production services, all by UK-based staff;

• Provide systems and platforms to support your work eg online submission systems for journals, hosting platforms, services to help maximise and measure the impact of your work;

• Ensure your work is covered in abstracting and indexing systems and OA resource discovery databases;

• Market your book or article to our extensive networks.

Just as we do for all our traditional publishing formats! In additional OA involves extra work in meeting the requirements of funding bodies.

Who pays for OA then?

All of the above has to be paid for, of course, even with a not-for-profit publisher. There are many different financial models for OA which currently include:

Gold – fully funded by an Article Processing Charge (APC) for journals often paid for from a grant or by an institution. This works in much the same way for journals and books;

Platinum – fully funded by donations from institutions or funders without APCs or by voluntary work – eg Wellcome Open Research, postgraduate journals run by volunteers, predominantly library-funded models like Knowledge Unlatched and the Open Library of the Humanities;

Mixed models where the costs are shared between funder types eg The University of California Press’ journal and book OA initiatives (Collabra for journals and Luminos for books) which are part funded by the institution, libraries and authors and Liverpool University Press’ Modern Languages Online from Liverpool – start up funded with help from the library but also charging APCs;

Green OA policies (ie self-archiving) mean no one has to pay but there are risks to publishers‘ business models especially as the archived versions becomes more discoverable and where embargoes are short.

So what does the future look like?

Whilst OA can bring huge benefits it is not always the right publishing model for all types of content and traditional publishing methods still have a significant role to play.

Many current projects have been set up with generous short-term funding and are nowhere near breaking even. What happens if/when this money runs out?

At Policy Press and University of Bristol Press we want to continue to expand our OA offerings and experiment with new models, but in a way which is sustainable and ensures a long term future. As a University Press we want to support the research community in the best ways possible and are still committed to publishing in traditional models where we think they are necessary. For example we are launching two new subscription-based journals this year (International Journal of Care and Caring and the Journal of Gender-Based Violence) in subject areas where OA funding is just not extensive enough.

It is very difficult to predict the future with such a rapidly evolving landscape (not to mention the political earthquakes taking place) but whatever happens, a mixed model of OA and traditional publishing seem likely to coexist for the foreseeable future.

For information on Policy Press’ OA publishing see here

To discuss potential OA projects contact Julia Mortimer (julia.mortimer@bristol.ac.uk)

We offer a range of discounts on our standard APCs. Find out more here.

Use Kudos to maximise and measure the impact of your research

Edwina Thorn, Journals Executive, Policy Press

As the volume of scholarly publications proliferates, you may well wonder whether the research you have worked so hard to publish is actually reaching readers and making a difference. You may also find that you are increasingly expected to demonstrate the impact of your work in grant applications or performance reviews.

At Policy Press we want to help and have partnered with Kudos to help you maximise and measure the impact of your research. This blog post is intended to provide quick and practical tips on how to use this service.

What is Kudos?
Kudos is intuitive and free to use for authors. It saves time by allowing authors to manage the promotion of all their publications across different forms of social media and email, and by providing a range of article level metrics (including altmetrics, citations, and downloads) – all in a single place.

When you create an account at https://www.growkudos.com/ you can start ‘claiming’ your research publications so that they appear in your author dashboard (If you have an ORCID ID you can save time by importing your publication list).

Kudos has three main functions: Explain, Share and Measure.

kudos_explain_share_measure_fig1

Explain
Kudos allows authors to add brief, plain language notes explaining what their article is about and why it’s important. You can find a guide to writing a really good plain language summary on the Kudos blog: Explain your work – the Kudos way. There is also space for author perspectives and links to other resources, such as presentations, videos, interviews, news coverage, figures, data-sets or related publications.

At Policy Press we are now collecting plain language summaries at article submission stage, so if you complete this field when you originally submit the article, the ‘What’s it about?’ box will already be filled in for you.

kudos_example_fig2

With the help of the Kudos widget this information is not only available on the Kudos platform, but can be incorporated into other websites, including publisher platforms or institutional research repositories. For Policy Press journals we’ve added the Kudos widget to Ingenta, so that readers can access the plain language summaries and impact statements added via Kudos directly from the article abstract page.

kudos_widget_example_fig3

Share
Authors can share the information and resources they have added to their publications easily via social media and email directly from the Kudos platform. Kudos creates trackable links, so that the effects of this sharing activity are measured and displayed in the Author Dashboard. This way authors always know how effective the time they have spent sharing their research has been.

Measure
Kudos makes it easy for authors to measure the impact of their work by providing article level metrics in the Author Dashboard. At a single glance, authors can see:

  • -How often their articles have been downloaded,
  • -How often they have been cited (in publications indexed in Web of Science),
  • -Their Altmetric scores (see What are Altmetrics? for further information),
  • -How often they have been viewed and shared on Kudos,
  • -How often people have clicked through to the original articles from Kudos.

kudos-author-dashboard-example-fig4

NB – The above is an anonymised example of a Kudos author dashboard. Full text downloads are only available for articles where the publisher partners with Kudos. Full text download data are available on Kudos for all Policy Press journals.

Does Kudos work?
The Altmetrics Research Team at the Centre for HEalthy and Sustainable CitieS (CHESS), Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore analysed data from the first two years of Kudos usage. They found that use of the Kudos toolkit by researchers led to 23% higher downloads of full text articles from the publishers’ sites.

Time-saving tips:

  1. Use your ORCID ID to import your publications list – there’s no need to search for each publication separately, and Kudos will automatically update your publications list every week.
  2. Add a plain language summary when you submit a journal article via Editorial Manager. It’ll be automatically transmitted to Kudos on acceptance.
  3. Authorise Kudos to connect to your social media accounts, so you can share your research on social media directly from your Kudos profile. Kudos uses trackable links, so that you can measure the impact of your activities.

So why not try it out on one of your Policy Press publications?  Watch this recording of our recent webinar or contact pp-journals@bristol.ac.uk for further information.

It’s not just about the money: 5 dilemmas underpinning health and social care reform

Following on from the publication of the third edition of Understanding health and social care, Jon Glasby looks at what’s needed for long-term, successful health and social care reform.

jon-glasby-pic-2

Jon Glasby

Open any national newspaper or turn on the news and (Trump and Brexit aside) there is likely to be coverage of the intense pressures facing the NHS.

Throughout the winter, there have been stories of hospitals at breaking point, an ambulance service struggling to cope, major problems in general practice and significant financial challenges.

For many commentators, this is one of the significant crises the NHS has faced for many years, and quite possibly the longest period of sustained disinvestment in its history.

“Draconian funding cuts have decimated services at the very time that need is increasing.”

In adult social care, the situation is even worse. Draconian funding cuts have decimated services at the very time that need is increasing with an ageing population, a rise in the number of people with multiple long-term conditions and growing numbers of young people surviving into adulthood with complex needs.

Increasingly, NHS leaders have argued that if any extra money is to be found, it should go to adult social care – otherwise the system as a whole could simply clog 1280px-nhs_nnuh_entranceup, fall over and fail.

However, we can’t keep doing more of the same. Health and social care provision must align with how we live other aspects of our lives in the 21st century.

While we need a funding settlement which gives some certainty for the future, we also need to address the underlying tensions that continue to dominate many of our services.

As explained in the new edition of Understanding health and social care, five key dilemmas are:

1. How best to promote more joined-up responses to need in a system that continues to assume that it is possible to distinguish between people who are ‘sick’ and those who are ‘frail and disabled’.

2. Whether to support people with long-term conditions because they are citizens with a right to independent living, or simply as a means of reducing reliance on expensive hospital services.

3. Whether to focus on challenging discrimination in health and social care or in wider society, and whether to do so via specialist initiatives or via general approaches.

4. Whether to involve people with experience of using services because they are ‘customers’ who can help improve the ‘product’ or because they are citizens with a right to greater choice and control.

5. Whether to support carers because they run the risk of being exploited by formal services and deserve the same access to a meaningful and stimulating life as everyone else, or because this is a cheap way of helping the ‘service user’ and reducing demands on formal services.

In the short term, it is probably possible to do a little of each of these ‘either-ors’ – to promote partnership in a system that is deeply divided; to tackle discrimination in formal services and in wider society; and to support people with long-term conditions, involve service users and support carers for a mixture of (not necessarily compatible) motives.

In the long run, however, the jury must remain out on the extent to which the current system can continue to contain these contradictions and tensions.

The second edition of Understanding health and social care appeared part-way through the Coalition government of 2010-15, asking whether massive public spending cuts and an uncertain economic outlook would lead to radical new ways of working in health and social care.

“Evidence of genuine and long-lasting reform still seems lacking.”

The third edition now appears under a Conservative government, when the full force of these cuts is being felt, and when austerity is feeling to many like a long-term state of affairs.

east_midlands_ambulance_service_nhs_trustEvidence of genuine and long-lasting reform still seems lacking.

Government remains committed in principle to further joint working between health and social care, but not to removing the underlying distinction between free health care and means-tested social care altogether.

There is talk of greater choice and control, but a very real risk of simply co-opting this language and creating little more than ‘zombie personalisation’ (a phrase coined by leading personalisation expert, Simon Duffy).

Discrimination remains widespread, the focus is often on ‘user involvement’ rather than on human rights, and support for carers continues to evolve but with longstanding and significant barriers remaining.

“Every problem can also be an opportunity.”

Choices still need to be made, but, in the meantime, every problem can also be an opportunity.

For example, the current policy rhetoric around ‘integrated care’ is a helpful hook for local partners keen to promote more effective joint working, while the personalisation agenda could still be transformative if we could implement it in a way that is true to its original values and ideals.

The Equality Act gives significant scope to take positive action to promote equality (not just avoid discrimination), while the importance of user involvement and the need to support carers are now so widely recognised that the genie feels well and truly out of the bottle.

Understanding Health and Social Care helps to explain these opportunities and tensions, thus supporting students and practitioners to change future practice and attitudes for the better, whatever the choices made by those at the helm.

Jon Glasby
School of Social Policy
University of Birmingham
February 2017

@jonglasby

understanding-health-and-social-care-3rd-fcUnderstanding health and social care by Jon Glasby can be ordered here for £17.59.

Find out more about impact, influence and engagement at Policy Press here.

Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – sign up here.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Get social care right and the NHS will benefit

How can we improve access to and quality of social care? Catherine Needham, co-author of Micro-enterprise and personalisation, discusses how micro-enterprises and micro providers could improve care services. 

catherine-needham-head-shot-b

Catherine Needham

At a time when the Red Cross is warning of a ‘Humanitarian Crisis’ in the NHS, there is a growing recognition that pressure on NHS services will not be alleviated unless we get social care right.

Social care services support frail older people and people with disabilities. They are run by local government and have borne the brunt of the local authority cuts in recent years, with around 26 per cent fewer people now getting help than did in the past.

Many care providers have gone bust due to downward pressures on fees and in many parts of the country it is very hard to recruit trained staff to work in care when the pay rates are higher at the local supermarket.

“It is very hard to recruit trained staff to work in care when the pay rates are higher at the local supermarket.”

Together these pressures contribute to older people being stuck in hospitals, unable to be discharged into the community because the support is not available to them.

Fixing social care

Getting social care right is not a quick fix. Access to good quality, affordable care for people with disabilities and older people is a challenging issue.

Continue reading ‘Get social care right and the NHS will benefit’

Why we need radical solutions to our housing supply crisis

There is now a deep crisis in housing supply in many parts of England. In his provocative new book, Duncan Bowie, author of Radical solutions to the housing supply crisis, argues that policy proposals promoted by Government and many commentators are either just tinkering with the problem, or will actually exacerbate the situation.

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Duncan Bowie

We have not learnt the lessons of the 2008 credit crunch and in fact we have had a housing deficit whether the country has been in boom or bust.

It is time to throw off long held ideological assumptions as to ideal forms of tenure and the relationship of state to market.

There is a systemic problem which cannot be corrected by short term measures and more radical solutions are necessary if the housing market is to be stabilised and the delivery of new homes increased.

“Housing…is now the central component in inequity between households both within and between geographical areas.”

We need to recognise that if we are to tackle inequity in wealth and opportunities, we need to tackle inequity in housing, which is now the central component in inequity between households both within and between geographical areas. It is also central to the growth in inter-generational inequality.

Continue reading ‘Why we need radical solutions to our housing supply crisis’

Transforming post-industrial cities: Anne Power on the impact of her book

In our next post on impact for Academic Book Week, Anne Power talks about how her book, Cities for a small continent has had international impact, uncovering the hope and opportunity to be found in ‘post-industrial’ cities.

anne-power

Anne Power

Cities for a small continent traces the fate of leading industrial cities in Europe and the US over ten years; 2006-2016. The collapse of major industries – coal, steel, ship-building, textiles, and machinery – across huge swathes of European and North American city regions drove extreme job losses, population decline and disinvestment.

The dramatic experience of deindustrialisation was particularly acute in Europe, the old, crowded, city-loving and war torn continent. As a result, city and regional governments, national leaders and the European Union all came together to form a City Reformers Group, based at the London School of Economics, to help our research team uncover what was happening to people stranded by unemployment, decay and economic turmoil. Were they in fact recovering as they claimed?

sheffield

Sheffield

Seven leading ex-industrial cities in six countries provided us with solid, grounded evidence, hosted workshops within their cities and organised visits to show us the devastation and dereliction, and to showcase their recovery efforts.

The cities most directly involved are: Sheffield, Belfast, Lille, Saint-Etienne, Leipzig, Bremen, Torino and Bilbao. This dynamic interchange at city level gives Cities for a small continent an immediacy and insight that would have been impossible without the direct participation of the cities and national governments.

Continue reading ‘Transforming post-industrial cities: Anne Power on the impact of her book’


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