Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

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.

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.

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.

Globalisation and our views on ageing

The world is now a much smaller place, with more and more people choosing to study or work abroad and, consequently, creating transnational families and connections. In this blog post, Martin Hyde, co-author of Ageing and globalisation, discusses how this increase in globalisation has affected conventional views of ageing.

martin-hyde

Martin Hyde

Sometime last year my parents called me to say that they wouldn’t be able to meet up on the coming weekend as they had to go and look after my brother’s kids.

Nothing unusual about this, as more and more retirees find themselves called upon to perform grandparenting duties in times of need – in this case my brother had to travel for work and my sister-in-law was not feeling well.

What made this somewhat more unusual was that my parents were in France at the time and my brother lives in Australia. So, they duly cut their stay in France short, bought return tickets to Australia, flew back to the UK packed their bags and went out to Australia for 3 weeks (my brother had had to go to China and South Korea).

“Wherever we look…we seem to see evidence of the increasing globalisation.”

Unusual but not unique. As families become increasingly transnational more and more people are drawn into these long-distance family and caring relationships. But this is not limited to family relationships. Wherever we look, from travel and transport to economics and the media, we seem to see evidence of the increasing globalisation. Continue reading ‘Globalisation and our views on ageing’

Foodbanks, social justice and why we need a new conversation about poverty

In her speech from The future of social justice event we held on Monday, Kayleigh Garthwaite, author of Hunger Pains, talks about her experience of volunteering at foodbanks and how we can harness and express the collective shame that should be felt over the existence of emergency food aid.

kayleigh-garthwaite“For the last three years, I’ve been a volunteer and a researcher at a Trussell Trust foodbank in central Stockton, North East England, finding out how a foodbank works, who uses them, and why.

Every week, I prepared the three days’ worth of food that goes into each food parcel. I dealt with the administration of the red vouchers required to receive food, making sure that anyone who needed further support was told where it could be obtained. I volunteered at food collections at Tesco supermarkets, asking people to add an extra tin to their weekly shop. Most importantly, I sat and listened to the stories of the hundreds of people who came through the food bank doors for emergency food.

Continue reading ‘Foodbanks, social justice and why we need a new conversation about poverty’

Danny Dorling on Rev Paul Nicolson, the housing crisis and hope for the future

Following our successful event on The Future of Social Justice held in association with the Bristol Festival of Ideas at University of Bristol on Monday, here is the full speech from Danny Dorling, one of the speakers.

Looking at the impact of changing housing policy over the years, and recent months, Danny points the way towards creating a fairer future and good quality housing for all.

Danny Dorling

Danny Dorling

“Margaret Thatcher’s government sowed the seeds of today’s housing crisis when it abandoned rent regulation in the private sector.

Those seeds were watered by the administrations of John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg who failed to realise the extent of the growing disaster that they were all nurturing. The results are the bitter harvest that it falls on Theresa May’s government to reap: rising homelessness, fear, destitution and dismay. The housing crisis will not end until homes are again seen as places to grow people, not profit. [1]

 

“The housing crisis will not end until homes are again seen as places to grow people, not profit.”

Continue reading ‘Danny Dorling on Rev Paul Nicolson, the housing crisis and hope for the future’

It’s Time to Change Our Approach to Change

While many are wary of Donald Trump’s next steps as president, others are eagerly anticipating the changes that their chosen candidate has promised them. However, is voting really enough to incite progressive economic change? Joel Magnuson, author of From greed to wellbeing, argues that we must all do much more to bring about real change to society. 

SAMSUNG

Joel Magnuson

Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House does not signify a new beginning or a new era.

Quite the opposite – Trump and his band of reactionaries symbolize the last gasps of a greed-inspired economic system that is crumbling into obsolescence. But like so many instances of imperial decline, this can also signal a time of regeneration. Like the yin and the yang, disintegration and renewal are both aspects of the same process of change. And change we must.

Climate change, financial system instability, and global resource depletion remain the most profound crises of the 21st century, and they cut across all national boundaries and cultural identities. As we look to the future and at our current circumstances, it seems clear that societies everywhere will have no choice but to completely rethink how to address these major problems in our economies. Particularly in the United States.

Continue reading ‘It’s Time to Change Our Approach to Change’

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women


Emma Williamson is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Gender and Violence Research, University of Bristol, and a Co-Editor of the new Journal of Gender-Based Violence.

A version of this blog post was originally published on 22 November 2016 in the Policy Briefing section of Discover Society, which is provided in collaboration with the journal Policy & Politics. The original post is available at: http://discoversociety.org/2016/11/22/support-international-day-for-the-elimination-of-violence-against-women/.

emma-williamsonNovember 25th marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, followed by 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

On this day, communities reflect on the damage caused by violence against women and its impact on women, children, men, and societies around the globe.

As well as acknowledging the harm that violence against women causes, November 25th is also a day to celebrate the achievements of a movement which seeks to eradicate the gendered violence which many face every day.  To recognise the men and women who work to support victims and perpetrators, to challenge abusive behaviours within societies across the world, and to stand up to the causes of violence by naming misogyny and oppression in its many forms.  Continue reading ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women’


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Twitter Updates

Archives


Helen Kara

Writing and research

Peter Beresford's Blog

Musings on a Mad World

Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy

Professor of Politics and Public Policy, University of Stirling

Path to the Possible

Democracy toward the Horizon

The GOVERNANCE blog

Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

Shot by both sides

The blog of Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP

Paul Collins's Running Blog

Running and London Marathon 2013 Training

Bristol Civic Leadership Project

A collaborative project on change in local governance

Stuck on Social Work

And what a great place to be

Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society

short and insightful writing about a long and complex history

Urban policy and practice

Publishing with a purpose

TessaCoombes

Policy Politics Place

Blog

Publishing with a purpose

Public Administration Review

Public Administration Review is a professional journal dedicated to advancing theory and practice in public administration.

EUROPP

European Politics and Policy

%d bloggers like this: