Archive for the 'Author blog' Category

An Unhappy NHS – Taking the Long View

Today’s guest blogger and author of The Health Debate, now in its second edition, David Hunter, tells us why we need to dig deeper to understand and change the chronic unhappiness in the NHS…

David HunterAs it enters 2016, the NHS is not a happy organisation. It hasn’t been for some time but the problems and pressures that have gathered pace through 2015 are coming to a head.

A threatened strike by junior doctors is already a firm possibility but other issues are mounting by the day, ranging from cash‐strapped hospitals, allegedly underperforming GPs, shortages of clinical and nursing staff, poorly integrated health and social care, non‐existent or threadbare mental health services, the persistence of a bullying culture, to unforeseen cuts in public health funding that threaten to put further pressure on an already over‐stretched NHS. The list goes on.

The quick fix

It is tempting to pick these issues off one by one, reaching for the quick fix while also finding someone to blame for allowing things to reach such a parlous state. That would be a mistake and would fail to understand the forces that have brought the NHS to where it is today.

Taking the long view is a necessary prerequisite to finding appropriate solutions. Continue reading ‘An Unhappy NHS – Taking the Long View’

If the US economy is so good, why does it feel so bad?

Salvatore Babones, author of Sixteen for ’16: A progressive agenda for a better America, explains why fixing the US jobs crisis can’t wait for the next president to take office…

Salvatore Babones

Salvatore Babones

With a 2 percent annual growth rate, 5 percent unemployment, and zero inflation, the US economy is the envy of the world. Growth seems to be rising and unemployment seems to be falling, which means that most analysts expect an even better US economy in 2016. Throw in low gas prices and a strong dollar, and what’s not to like?

If the US economy is doing so well, why are ordinary people so unhappy with their own economic prospects?

Where are the jobs?

The aggregate US economy may be growing but most people’s personal economies are not. Census Bureau data show that real per capita income is still below 2007 levels — despite six years of solid economic growth. And Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that despite today’s low unemployment rates the jobs still haven’t come back.

Back in 2006 the employment rate of the civilian population — the proportion of adults who had jobs — was over 63 percent. Allowing for people who are still in school, people who are retired, people who are disabled, and people who prefer not to work, that was just about everyone. When the economy is doing well, people who want jobs can get jobs.

“Over the last six years, the economy has recovered. Employment has not”

Compare that with 2015. For all of 2015 to date the employment rate has been stuck below 60 percent. In fact, the employment rate has been not risen above 60 percent since the technical beginning of the “recovery” in June, 2009. Over the last six years, the economy has recovered. Employment has not.

The difference between the 63 percent employment rate of 2006 and the (well under) 60 percent employment rate of 2015 is roughly 7.5 million people. That’s the number of jobs missing in today’s roaring economy. Bringing today’s employment rate back up to 2006 levels would require the creation of more than 7.5 million new jobs.

Full-time to part-time

What’s more, since the Global Financial Crisis there has been a shift from full-time to part-time employment. Some 2.5 million full-time jobs have disappeared, to be replaced by part-time employment. Assuming that people have basically the same preferences as they had before the recession hit, this means that the US economy is really short 10 million full-time jobs.

And remember, this is the economy at its best. The current “recovery” won’t last forever. It is already the fourth longest expansion of all time and about to overtake the World War II period to become the third longest. If the next recession hits while the economy is already 10 million jobs short of full employment, God help us.

“If the next recession hits while the economy is already 10 million jobs short of full employment, God help us”

The managers of the US economy don’t seem to be worried about this. On December 16, 2015 the Federal Reserve raised interest rates (albeit by a tiny amount) for the first time in seven years. The Fed expects that “economic activity will continue to expand at a moderate pace and labor market indicators will continue to strengthen.” In other words, the Fed expects more good news.

More good news for whom? As analyses from the Financial Times show, banks are increasingly parking their money at the Fed, not lending it out to businesses and consumers. Along with the Fed’s increase in lending rates (from 0 to 0.25 percent) came an increase in the interest rate the Fed pays banks on their own deposits at the Fed (from 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent).

Excess funds

For the last six years banks have parked trillions of dollars of excess funds in their accounts at the Federal Reserve. After all, they can earn 0.25 percent risk-free by borrowing money from the Fed and placing it directly in their own accounts at the Fed. Banks now hold some $2.5 trillion in excess reserves in these accounts. Those holdings give banks collectively an extra $6 billion in annual risk-free profits.

Before the Global Financial Crisis, US banks held virtually $0 in excess reserves in their Federal Reserve accounts.

“What we see today is…great for banks, great for bankers, and not so great for ordinary workers”

What we see today is a US economy that is great for banks, great for bankers, and not so great for ordinary workers. Employment rates are down, employment hours are down, and wages are down. Bank profits are up, up, up to record levels. It’s no wonder that ordinary people are not as optimistic as the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

In the end, the Fed can’t fix the problems of the US economy. The Fed can help the banks (and the bankers who serve on its boards) but it can’t make companies hire more people. Only government can do that, and the US government has shown no willingness to create jobs in this recession, or even in this century.

The US government should be borrowing that cheap Fed money and using it to put people to work. Education, healthcare, and infrastructure could all absorb millions of workers to do jobs that desperately need to be done. President Obama should make this clear to Congress and put people to work. Fixing the jobs crisis can’t wait for the next president — or the next recession. It is already long overdue.

Sixteen for 16 [FC]Salvatore Babones is Associate Professor of Sociology & Social Policy at The University of Sydney. His new book Sixteen for ’16: A Progressive Agenda for a Better America is the first book in the Policy Press Shorts series. For more information about the policies proposed in Sixteen for ’16 see the book website at 16for16.com.

Sixteen for ’16 is available to purchase here  from the Policy Press website. Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

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.

What is the ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy in the UK and why does nobody want to talk about it?

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks in November it was announced that Downing Street had approved a measure that would see police or military being order to ‘shoot-to-kill’ on British streets.

In today’s guest post Maurice Punch, who has researched and written extensively on the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell underground station in 2005, asks why there isn’t more clarity and conversation about the police use of firearms.

PunchA fatal shooting is the ultimate in police use of force on the state`s behalf. Hence it is vital to achieve clarity and transparency to ensure trust in police legitimacy.

But since 2005 and Stockwell – when Met officers, in extreme circumstances, shot dead Charles de Menezes on an underground train assuming he was a suicide bomber – there has been obfuscation.

Uncertainty

Some maintain that the policy which emerged then has fundamentally changed the police paradigm on firearms and strengthened the possibility of prosecution for officers concerned. This legal and policy uncertainty is unacceptable and needs urgent resolution.

“…in reality every police shooting is potentially lethal”

Police never speak of “shooting to kill” but in reality every police shooting is potentially lethal. The body can absorb several bullets yet the person can survive: but a single round can prove fatal. Moreover if Authorized Firearms Officers (AFOs) confront an armed person posing a threat they may fire as often as deemed necessary but then with a high likelihood of death.

Restraint

‘Prior intention not to kill’ is important legally following a disputed shooting to evade prosecution: and, importantly, it reflected long standing policy. Historically “British” firearms policy (Northern Ireland excluded) was geared to restraint, issuing warnings, accounting for each round and aiming for the body mass.

“The explicit purpose was to “stop” and not to kill”

The explicit purpose was to “stop” and not to kill. The AFO`s obligations are outlined every time a weapon is drawn from the armoury. Furthermore, the AFO pulling the trigger is held accountable: and “following orders” is not an acceptable defence.

That all changed dramatically at Stockwell in 2005. An ambulant suicide bomber with an explosive vest is ruthlessly determined to cause mass casualties. He or she may explode the device if challenged, detonate it when still injured and perhaps even cause another explosion by remote control. The Israelis and Americans had developed tactics to deal with suicide bombers and British police and security representatives had consulted them and devised a covert policy for this new threat.

“This tactic could not other than prove fatal and was indisputably “shooting-to-kill””

The secret policy that publically emerged after Stockwell was based on: no warning and firing several times at the back of the head at point-blank range with hollow-point bullets that spread on impact and remain in the brain to prevent the bomber exploding the device. Due to the circumstances of the operation what actually happened on the tube train deviated somewhat from that; there was confusion about identification allowing de Menezes to enter the train; two AFOs then approached de Menezes and, when a surveillance officer grabbed him, he was shot at nine times at point-blank range with seven bullets entering his head, neck and shoulder.   A Designated Senior Officer (DSO) was in command to initiate the tactic. This tactic could not other than prove fatal and was indisputably “shooting to kill”.

This indicated a sea-change regarding police use of firearms. Indeed it reflects “shooting to eliminate” as used by Special Forces where multiple shots to the head and vital organs are used to eliminate any possible threat.

A combination of errors

Hence officers were asked to do something fundamentally opposed to their training and also to the long standing paradigm underpinning British practice which, in turn, provided a legal defence. Tragically a combination of errors and failures led the Met to killing an innocent man at Stockwell, graphically revealing that getting it wrong proves irrevocable.

There are four main points arising from this disturbing matter:

  • Firstly the government delegated responsibility for formulating firearms policy to ACPO*: who then really “owned” this new policy?
  • Secondly, did having a DSO in command mean this officer was issuing an “order” hence drawing accountability upwards? Indeed, the prosecution and conviction of the Met under Health and Safety law indicated wider, corporate culpability?
  • Thirdly, has this in some way led to a slippery slope of more aggressive firearms` use given the number of highly controversial police shootings in recent years?
  • And fourthly should the police be involved in certain counter-terrorist operations which imply further “militarization”? Should there rather be, as elsewhere in Europe, specialized paramilitary units for such extreme tasks?

Of all these the first point is pivotal. Indisputably a British police force shot to kill. There may, indeed, be no alternative to answer this particular threat. But rather than enhanced clarity the Home Office has gone silent and has suffocated fundamental debate.

Essence of democracy

Yet the essence of democracy is accountability and transparency. This particularly applies to police use of fatal force. The entire matter should be brought into the public domain, with public and parliamentary debate and appropriate legislation to guarantee clarity and transparency for the public, victims of police shootings and their families and operational officers.

“..an urgent, profound matter intrinsically related to governance, accountability, legality, ethics and human rights”

It is highly suspicious that the Home Office – mostly engaged in lambasting and emasculating the police – slipped this particularly crucial issue to the largely unaccountable ACPO. How police kill fellow citizens on behalf of the state – an urgent, profound matter intrinsically related to governance, accountability, legality, ethics and human rights – needs to be embedded within the domain of Parliament and the law.

*Association of Chief Police Officers, replaced in 2015 by the National Police Chiefs Council

Shoot to kill [FC]What matters in policing [FC]Shoot to kill is available to purchase here  from the Policy Press website as is Marice Punch’s most recent co-authored book What matters in policing?

Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

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.

Oldham west by election: Why do local politicians want to win national office?

With the Oldham west by-election looming today’s guest blogger Simon Parker asks what the future holds for England’s regional politics?

Simon ParkerOldham west is rapidly becoming one of those totemic by-elections that will be quoted by political historians for years to come. Will a crumbling UKIP machine be able to beat Corbyn’s Labour? But behind the headlines another, more human, story is playing out. It tells us a lot about the future of England’s regional politics.

The Labour candidate is Jim McMahon, the extraordinary leader of Oldham council. He is following in the footsteps of many a local government leader and taking his shot at the bright lights of London. In our centralised political system, this path is so well-trodden that we barely stop to ask why local politicians should want to win national office. Parliament is just better than running a council, right?

Making a real difference

Well maybe not. As leader of Oldham, McMahon can make a real difference. He commands a talented and innovative organisation that is successfully integrating its services with local health, fire and police while setting up radical new initiatives such as a white goods store to help local people avoid expensive consumer credit.

“You could describe his style as civic republicanism…a hugely attractive style of politics in our jaded age”

McMahon is undeniably a Labour politician, but he is something else as well. You could describe his style as civic republicanism: a concern to understand and deliver whatever serves the common good locally, with little regard to party political shibboleths. It is a hugely attractive style of politics in our jaded age, and with devolution coming to Greater Manchester it would have put McMahon in a prime position of influence in the city, perhaps even offering him a shot at the new mayoralty in 2017.

Hopelessly remote

Compare this to the reality of today’s Westminster. McMahon is trying to trade real power and influence for what is likely to be at least a decade of opposition in parliament. Even when Labour does win power again, many former council leaders will find that anything less than a position as secretary of state can be a disappointment. Local government offers a direct chance to change people’s lives, whereas life in Westminster can feel hopelessly remote.

“Take David Blunkett, the firebrand leader of the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire in the 1980s turned arch-centralist by years in parliament”

McMahon’s powerful but softly spoken politics deserves to find a home amidst all the shouting and ideology of Westminster, but it is all too easy for the ideals of a civic republican to get lost in the posturing of the bubble, their devolutionary radicalism blunted by party loyalty and political convenience. Take David Blunkett, the firebrand leader of the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire in the 1980s turned arch-centralist by years in parliament.

Jim McMahon is exactly the sort of person any voter should want to see in parliament: a man who recognises that power is only worthwhile when put in the hands of ordinary people, making it possible for them to lead better lives. But if he wins, his challenge will be to change the system before it can change him.

Taking power back [FC]Simon Parker’s new book Taking Power Back is available to purchase here  from the Policy Press website. Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

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.

Free extract: After urban regeneration by Dave O’Brien and Peter Matthews

After urban regeneration by Dave O’Brien and Peter Matthews publishes today and to celebrate we’re making the book’s Introduction free to access. So if you’re waiting for your pre-ordered copy to arrive or simply interested to find out more, read on…

Peter Matthews

Peter Matthews

Dr Dave O'Brien

Dave O’Brien

This edited collection has emerged from studies funded through the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC’s) ‘Connected Communities’ programme.

The first book to publish in the Connected Communities book series, it uses the evidence and knowledge created by a range of projects to explore two theses: first, that the UK, and England in particular, has now entered a ‘post-regeneration era’; and, second, that new relationships are being developed between academics, universities and ‘communities’, producing new kinds of knowledge.

Download the pdf of the full Introduction here.

Dr. Dave O’Brien is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Policy, at ICCE, Goldsmiths College, University of London. He hosts the New Books In Critical Theory podcast.

Dr. Peter Matthews is Lecturer in Social Policy at SASS, University of Stirling. He publishes widely in urban studies, planning, social policy and housing.

After urban regeneration [FC]After urban regeneration is available to purchase here  from the Policy Press website. Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

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.

Extending the welcome? Migrant exploitation beyond the border

In today’s guest blog post Hannah Lewis, Louise Waite and Stuart Hodkinson, authors of Precarious Lives (out in paperback this week) suggest that the UK’s approach to immigration, far from punishing those who exploit asylum seekers, will make forced labour more likely and reduce worker protection.

Hannah Lewis

Hannah Lewis

Louise Waite

Louise Waite

Stuart Hodkinson

Stuart Hodkinson

The summer of 2015 saw unprecedented media and public attention on questions of migration and border controls.

For researchers involved in studying migration and those working with migrants and refugees on a daily basis, the consciousness raising and generosity towards those fleeing violence and poverty has been sudden and surprising.

The Independent reported on a Charities Aid Foundation survey on 24 September which found that one in three UK adults had responded in some way to a relief effort, and one in 14 (the equivalent of almost two million households) would be prepared to offer space in their home to a refugee.

Debate

A petition to the UK Government to ‘accept more asylum seekers and increase support for refugee migrants in the UK’ gathered 442,249 signatures triggering a debate in Parliament on 8 September in which Prime Minister David Cameron conceded to accepting 20,000 of the ‘most vulnerable’ refugees from Syrian refugee camps over five years.

It would have been easy to assume that years of negative media coverage and political demonising of migration, migrants and people seeking asylum made impossible the kind of ‘welcome’ counter-movement witnessed across Europe in recent months.

“Little coverage has been given to what kind of ‘welcome’ truly awaits people seeking asylum”

But the numbers, while highly contested, of those crossing and losing their lives in the Mediterranean has sparked a humanitarian crisis at and within the borders of the EU that resulted in even right wing, routinely xenophobic media outlets (briefly) running sympathetic coverage.

This response has focused almost exclusively on short-term charitable provision for new arrivals. Little coverage has been given to what kind of ‘welcome’ truly awaits people seeking asylum, refugees granted resettlement or migrants after their initial arrival on EU soil.

Although many sections of the UK public have responded powerfully in criticising the UK government’s response to the humanitarian crisis, virtually no attention has been given to the Conservative Government’s Immigration Bill 2015-16 currently being pushed through Parliament.

“..virtually no attention has been given to the Conservative Government’s Immigration Bill 2015-16”

The 2015 Bill includes proposed measures to: remove support from refused asylum seeking families; introduce criminal charges and imprisonment for up to five years for landlords who rent to irregular migrants; recoup wages from people found working without permission; and create a new offence of illegal working with up to a 12 month sentence and unlimited fines.

A ‘really hostile environment’

The Bill extends the stated goal of the very recent Immigration Act 2014 which Home Secretary Theresa May explained was intended to create a ‘really hostile environment’, particularly for irregular migrants.

These two pieces of legislation will expand the ways in which immigration policy operates to manufacture destitution for refused asylum seekers and irregular migrants, and strengthen the position of employers over workers furnishing an environment for severe labour exploitation.

Our research into experiences of forced labour among people seeking asylum and refugees in England found that many aspects of existing immigration policy operate to increase the susceptibility of people in the asylum system to severely exploitative work. Conditions in exploitative labour can quickly deteriorate into practices that would meet international definitions of forced labour.

We spoke to Mohamed, who, when his asylum case was rejected and his support removed, slept on the streets of one city. He was confronted with offers to sell drugs to find a livelihood. To get away from these risks, he walked 35 miles to another town and found a room to share with people from his country of origin, but needed money to contribute to the rent.

Threatened with dismissal

He took up a series of jobs in catering outlets. He repeatedly found that after a short time, his work conditions would worsen, abuse would increase, and he would be threatened with dismissal or being reported to authorities if he complained.

Everybody knows you got no paper, you are asylum, you are illegal working. […] I knew that they got holiday, they got tips they got everything, but for me only £20 – sometimes a fourteen hour, fifteen hour at the weekend.

His is just one of many cases we encountered where the destitution enforced by immigration policy pushes individuals into exploitative work, and the threat of denunciation to authorities and fear of deportation is used directly by employers to impose forced labour practices.

This directly contradicts the message presented by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, who stated in passing the Modern Slavery Act 2015, that:

This landmark legislation sends the strongest possible signal to criminals that if you are involved in this vile trade you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted and you will be locked up. And it says to victims, you are not alone – we are here to help you.

Far from addressing forms of modern slavery and protecting ‘victims’, our research suggests that the Immigration Act 2014 and new Immigration Bill 2015-16 directly generate practices that make forced labour more likely and reduce the avenues for protection for workers.

Precarious lives [FC]Precarious lives is available to purchase here  from the Policy Press website. Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

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.

Author interview: Adrian Voce on children’s forgotten right to play

Adrian Voce’s book ‘Policy for Play: Responding to children’s forgotten right‘ publishes today. We caught up with Adrian to find out a little more about the background to the book, what inspired him to write it and why he thinks children’s right to play is ripe for a fresh look from policymakers.

Children’s play is an unlikely subject for a book about policy; what made you want to write it?

Adrian Voce Updated image2

Well, that’s one of its main points. Because play is very important to children, but much less so to the adults who control their environments, it is widely overlooked within child policy. But from a wide range of perspectives playing is crucial, both to children’s wellbeing in the present, and to their on-going development.

When considered next to the growing evidence of constraints on children’s play, it is not difficult to conclude that a broad, strategic and sophisticated response is required at different levels of society. And, because all children need to play, this must be a public realm response, which means a key role for government.

The book looks back at the Play Strategy for England, which was abandoned in 2010. How is this relevant now?

Notwithstanding the Welsh Government policy, which makes play provision a statutory duty on local authorities, the Play Strategy of 2008 was the closest a national government has yet come to a full response to Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).

“because [the Play Strategy] was then scrapped after only 2 years, there is a tendency to dismiss it as failed policy, or to overlook it altogether”

The UN’s own General Comment of 2013 elaborates states’ obligations under the convention to make the plans, provide the funding and legislate as appropriate to ‘respect, protect and fulfil’ all children’s right to play. The UK government set out to do that with a 12-year plan in 2008, but because it was then scrapped after only 2 years, there is a tendency to dismiss it as failed policy, or to overlook it altogether.

My book aims to stimulate a fresh look at what was achieved in terms of policy development; not to resurrect the strategy itself, which was of course particular to its wider context of New Labour’s reforms (universal outcomes and so on), but at its principles and its broad approach: as a detailed case study of what is possible in policy terms.

Wasn’t the Play Strategy mainly about building new playgrounds? Can play advocates really claim that this is a priority when public expenditure is still under so much downward pressure?

The most significant – and longer term – elements of the play strategy were not the new play areas but the measures to effect change in the way public space responded to children’s needs. Traffic, highways, parks, planning, housing, and policing: these are each important areas of public policy that impact on children’s access to the outdoor world for their play.

“One of the ironies of the premature termination of the Play Strategy was that [building new playgrounds] was not expensive in Treasury terms”

The approach I am advocating in the book, and which was begun through the Play Strategy, tackled each of these areas – nationally and locally – aiming to cultivate shared understandings, through professional development and joint planning, of what children need from the public realm.

One of the ironies of the premature termination of the Play Strategy was that this part of the policy was not expensive in Treasury terms. The plan after 2011 was to embed the concept of strategic partnerships for children’s play within the joint planning and commissioning process of local government – with the incentive of a new national indicator for play – and to provide high level training and facilitation to the cross-cutting professional groupings that would be necessary to make this happen.

The decision to scrap this had less to do with finance and more to do with a different concept of the role of central government.

In his foreword to the book, Professor Roger Hart talks about playwork. Where does this fit with your approach to play policy?

Playwork is synonymous, for many people, with childcare for older children but, when practiced properly, it is a new approach to working with children, less wedded to the dominant discourse that informs more established practices and underpins so much child policy.

Playwork resists the assumption made throughout the world of education and children’s services – and much of society – that adult responsibilities for children’s future ‘life chances’ override their own designs on their time and space: that ‘we know best’.

“Playwork serves only children’s play and their opportunity and capacity to enjoy it to the full”

Playwork serves only children’s play and their opportunity and capacity to enjoy it to the full. In so doing, its theory and practice has assimilated a wide, trans-disciplinary perspective on children’s play, which makes playworkers some of the best – and best informed – advocates for an enlightened approach to play policy that you will find anywhere.

If policymakers want to engender a healthy, active child population they really should engage with vocational playworkers, as they know what constitutes playable space. If our residential areas became, once again, daily places for children to play – outside in the common spaces of their streets and neighbourhoods – we would see a rapid reversal of childhood obesity, to mention just one of the benefits.

Isn’t there a contradiction in your recommendations to improve the playability of public space at the same time as expanding the number of staffed adventure playgrounds?

Yes, playwork has always been aware of the paradox of its approach. It’s a profession that aims ultimately to be unnecessary, at least in its direct provider role; but then you could probably say the same about social work and even medicine! Ideally we wouldn’t need playworkers or adventure playgrounds, but that utopia isn’t coming any time soon.

Playwork emerged on adventure playgrounds and one of the most exciting elements of the Play Strategy was the Pathfinder programme to expand their number and to develop playwork as a profession. Instead, we are seeing probably the steepest reduction in real (staffed) adventure playgrounds that we have ever had, and a corresponding decline in playwork.

What are the current prospects for play policy?

Well, the book relates how play provision – let alone strategic planning for more playable public space – has been a big casualty of austerity; but it also touches on the green shoots of new policy emerging, with an All Party Parliamentary Group, the new Children’s Commissioner, the Children’s Rights Alliance for England and even the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, all calling for the Government to reinstate children’s play as a ministerial responsibility and to rethink its decision to abandon policy for play.

In more general terms, I think play will become a bigger issue as long as public space is perceived as unsafe and unwelcoming to children. Whether it is out of concern about the consequences of sedentary lifestyles, or out of a realisation that the futures we anxiously anticipate for them are maybe less important than the quality of their lives now – no society (to paraphrase Lloyd George) can neglect the need of its children to play.

Adrian Voce OBE is a writer and consultant on public provision for children’s play. As Chair, then Director of the Children’s Play Council (2003-6), and founding director of Play England (2006-11), he had a key role in the UK Government’s Play Strategy of 2008-11. A former playworker, Adrian was the first director of London Play (1998-2004), working with the Mayor to establish a play policy for the capital city.

Policy for play [FC]Policy for Play: Responding to children’s forgotten right is available to purchase here  from the Policy Press website for £14.99. Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

If you would like to read an extract from Adrian’s book you can do so here.

Why not also check out the Policy for Play website www.policyforplay.com and follow Adrian on Twitter @adevoce

If you liked this you might also like….

Remaking the case for government action on play

We also publish the Journal of Playwork Practice – please check out our website if you are interested in finding out more about this journal, including the free 3 month online trial for libraries

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.

 


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