Archive for the 'public policy' Category

Free extract: How austerity has been biting the UK since 2010

In light of the media surprise at George Osborne’s 2016 botched Budget and Ian Duncan Smith’s sudden bout of conscience we thought we’d treat you to some tasty extracts from Mary O’Hara’s book Austerity Bites.

 Chronicling the true impact of austerity as it has been felt in the UK since its inception in 2010 and calling the government to account for the pain inflicted on society’s most vulnerable, Austerity Bites reveals that the wounds of austerity have been visible for quite some time…

Mary O'Hara

Mary O’Hara

In February 2015 Tory Party grandees believed it was acceptable to hold a Black and White Ball fundraiser with tables going for £15,000 a time and to have among the items being auctioned bound copies of George Osborne’s Budgets, including the first ‘Emergency Budget’ that ushered in austerity.

While the average British citizen has been living in ever-more precarious circumstances and paying through the nose for bankers’ malfeasance the rich can rest assured that they won’t have to pay their fair share. This is the situation almost five years into Austerity UK.

This Tory and the previous coalition government have presided over manifold cases of people so crushed by the brutish, punitive changes to the welfare system, including the inexplicable ‘Bedroom Tax’, and sanctions that many have gone without food, resorted to begging or taken up ‘survival shoplifting’ after their meagre benefits support has been withdrawn. People are suicidal.

Despair

The government has driven innumerable disabled people to despair with its spectacularly inappropriate and mismanaged ‘back-to-work’ programmes that are still plagued by criticisms of callousness and ineptitude. Continue reading ‘Free extract: How austerity has been biting the UK since 2010’

Policy Press Impact: MPs and peers hear why morality must be included in public policy

One of the founding principles of Policy Press is about publishing books that make a difference and have impact on our wider society, so we were delighted to discover that author Clem Henricson recently visited the House of Lords to present the findings of her latest book Morality and public policy.

A plea for morality to be put into public policy was made by Clem Henricson when she presented her book, Morality and public policy, to the Intergenerational Fairness Forum of peers and M.P.s on Wednesday 9th March.

Evidence was being examined with a view to reducing current unfairness between the generations. Henricson discussed the book’s findings concerning moral divides which she contends are not adequately or fairly dealt with by government.

Changes in attitudes

Making the case for a higher profile for morality to address changes in attitudes between the generations in a more timely and conciliatory manner, Henricson stressed that it should not take so long for legislation to keep up with shifts in approaches to matters such as abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation and assisted dying. Continue reading ‘Policy Press Impact: MPs and peers hear why morality must be included in public policy’

Why we need morality included in our public policy

In today’s guest post author of Morality and public policy, which publishes this month, Clem Henricson demands we put the discussion and inclusion of moral issues back into government decision making and law formation…

ClemWith an increasingly bitter secular religious divide we need a radical shift in our take on morality – not a breast beating on the state of morals, but an enhanced understanding of the nature of morality and a way forward to remedy what is a seriously defective relationship with public policy.

Have you ever questioned why the moral sphere is segregated from core public policy? Why in the gestation of policy is morality hived off as the provenance of private conscience and the clerisy?

We have separate development with the relegation of moral issues to some zone outside the mainstream of governmental concerns. Are governments too cowardly or ill equipped to address these matters?

Legislation and change

It emphatically should not take so long for legislation to keep up with changes in social mores – changes in attitudes to matters such as abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation and that issue that has exercised us so much recently- assisted dying – with its haunting images of campaigners such as Tony Nicklinson and Terry Pratchett.

Why does government hide behind the private member’s bill, judicial rulings, loud protracted campaigns and flouting of the law that are so often the necessary prelude to change? Why is government dilatory and evasive, instead of embracing the essence of human relations – handling fluctuations and tensions head on?

“..an illusory dividing line drawn between […] public policy and conventional ‘morality’”

Continue reading ‘Why we need morality included in our public policy’

Beyond Downton: Can the welfare state embrace a participatory future? #participatorycare #allourwelfare

The union of personal experience and professional knowledge has informed Peter Beresford’s latest book All our welfare which publishes today. In his guest post he reflects on a life lived in parallel with the development of the welfare state and suggests greater involvement of participants in the process of welfare could be the key to an enduring future…

Beresford imageWriting All Our Welfare has really made me realize just how much the welfare state has impacted on my life – personally as well as professionally.

At a time when we are encouraged to think of ‘welfare’ as for ‘other’ people, particularly stigmatized and devalued other people, this goes against the grain of received wisdom.

I realize that I may have had more contact than most people, with state services – including so-called heavy end ones, like ‘benefits’, psychiatric system, environmental health, rent officers and so on. But this increasingly feels like a strength rather than a weakness in exploring social policy.

Lived experience

I wanted my book to include and value lived experience as well as traditional ‘expert’ knowledge. As part of this I included comments from many members of my family in the book. What was interesting was that all of them could speak from direct experience about the welfare state, from age three to 91 and most did so enthusiastically (Charlie (aged 11) and Poppy (aged 9) weren’t too keen on some aspects of school!).
Continue reading ‘Beyond Downton: Can the welfare state embrace a participatory future? #participatorycare #allourwelfare’

Why Race Policy must include Multiracial Americans

Today’s guest blog by Kathleen Odell Korgen, whose book Race policy and multi-racial Americans published this month, examines the much overlooked issue of including multiracial Americans in policy making and explains why this oversight must stop.

Kathleen Korgen OdellAmericans who identify as multiracial comprise approximately 7 percent of the U.S. population. With a growth rate three times that the rest of the population, this percentage will rise quickly (U.S. Census Bureau 2012; Frey 2014; Pew Research Center 2015).

One would never know this, however, by viewing the nation’s race policies. A look at policies across a variety of areas, including public school curricula, health policy, and prison regulations, reveals little trace of the existence of growing numbers of Americans who identify as multiracial.

Acknowledgement

Despite the reality that 10 percent of babies born in 2013 had parents of different races (Pew Research Center 2015), multiracial children still attend schools with teachers and curricula that tend not to acknowledge the existence of multiracial people (Williams 2013; Williams and Chilungu 2016).

Health data on multiracial Americans and how to service this population is also hard to find (Bratter and Mason 2016). Moreover, multiracial people have neither protection against nor acknowledgement of discrimination based on their identity as multi- rather than mono-racial (Botts 2016).

“The fallacies of the colorblind ideology…have become harder to swallow.”

With the steady release of videos documenting police violence against Black citizens and the public vitriol of Republican presidential candidates against immigrants seen as non-White and/or Muslim, increasing numbers of Americans of all racial backgrounds acknowledge that race still matters.
Continue reading ‘Why Race Policy must include Multiracial Americans’

Women and alcohol: Why ‘no shame no blame’ is essential to recovery

Today sees the launch of the Women’s Independent Alcohol Support helpline which author of Women and alcohol: Social perspectives Patsy Staddon has been instrumental in setting up. In today’s guest post Staddon shares insights from both her research and experience on the complexities of  alcoholism and why it needs to be better understood as a social issue, not a personal failure.

Patsy’s book, Women and alcohol: Social perspectives is on offer until the end of January for just £9.99  (RRP £24.99).

Patsy blogI have never been an ivory tower academic—I gained my doctorate in 2009 at the age of 65 so it’s not surprising that most of my life, whether in the period it was governed by alcohol (from the mid-‘seventies to November 1988) or while I have been researching and practising alternative approaches for women with alcohol issues, has centred on what could be called fieldwork.

As soon as Women and alcohol: social perspectives had been completed I was back out in Bristol, as chair and co-ordinator for Women’s Independent Alcohol Support (WIAS), advertising and running alternative groups for women with alcohol issues and (as of January 20th 2016) a weekly helpline—0117-9428077.

Helpline launch

This January seems to be a particularly apt time to launch such a helpline: not only are many people attempting (and perhaps failing?) to keep to a ‘dry January’, but the government chose this month to launch new guidelines, recommending that both women and men should limit their alcohol use to 14 units a week, and stating in addition that there was NO completely ‘safe’ level of alcohol use, as only a small amount increased the risk of cancer and other health conditions.

This increased risk (for moderate alcohol use) does, however, appear to be very small.

“…‘alcoholism’ is a social issue, rather than a personal failure…”

One of the things we hope to do is to counter some of the more hysterical media reports. The WIAS ‘telephone team’ possesses experience and professional expertise in the areas of alcohol recovery itself, mental health, domestic abuse and physical abuse, and has also received training from SISH (Self-Injury Self-Help), a national organisation based in Bristol.

We are taking forward in practice the ideals embedded in the book: ‘alcoholism’ is a social issue, rather than a personal failure. It is a consequence of social disasters at least as much as a cause of them. It is certainly not inevitably permanent, but can be managed and ultimately overcome.
Continue reading ‘Women and alcohol: Why ‘no shame no blame’ is essential to recovery’

Public service outsourcing: criminal ignorance?

Outsourcing of prisons has been happening for almost 25 years, plenty of time to gather in the data and get a clear picture of the pros and cons of public vs private right? Not according to today’s guest blogger, Julian Le Vay, who worked at different times on both sides of the fence…

This article was first published on Public Finance – News & insight for Public Finance professionals on Tuesday 5th January 2016.

JulianEnthusiasm for the outsourcing of public services is growing, despite the absence of reliable evidence about the implications for costs and quality

Outsourcing of public services has been a dominant feature of UK political life for three decades, under all governments – and is accelerating. Outsourcing doubled under the coalition government and has been forecast to extend to one third of all service by value under the current one.

Comparative cost

We should, then, surely know a great deal about the comparative cost and quality of publicly and privately provided services, about their respective strengths and weaknesses, and how to get best value out of outsourcing. Research in my own field, detention services, shows that this is absolutely not the case. We know, and government itself knows, remarkably little.

That is all the more astonishing because competition to run prisons has been going on longer than for any other complex public service (a quarter of a century now), remains highly controversial and involves direct commercial competition between sectors. Yet the last full comprehensive comparative study was carried out 15 years ago – and was limited and unsatisfactory even then.

“The evidence is that neither the private nor the public sector has consistently outperformed the other”

Continue reading ‘Public service outsourcing: criminal ignorance?’


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