While the press got lathered up about Cameron’s gaffe over households reducing their endebtedness, which of course will simply reduce economic activity, what is really going on in the world of cuts and the banking crisis? There are several pieces of news which have not had proper publicity, many come courtesy of the enewsletter of the National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA - www.independentaction.net).
Fiddling While Rome Burns – The Final Report of Banking Commission. According to the group Positive Money the Independent Commission on Banking has not addressed a fraction of the fundamental problems with the modern banking system. Rather than looking at fundamentally changing the nature or structure of banking, they have focused on what to do after the fatally-flawed banking system inevitably implodes. For the group’s critique see www.positivemoney.org.uk. Positive Money activists have been involved in writing the new book Where Does Money Come From?" A Guide to the UK Monetary and Banking System. See PM’s website to buy a copy.
Private Sector Take-Over. Here’s an extract from a Guardian letter last March from Peter Taylor-Gooby, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Kent, re-published in NCIA’s enewsletter:
“This government has learnt the lesson of previous attempts to cut state spending: public expenditure bounces back. That's what happened after the Geddes axe in 1922, the 1931 National Government cuts, Callaghan in 1976, even Thatcher in the 1980s and Major in the 1990s. To achieve a permanent shift to a small-state, market-centred society, it's not enough to slash state spending for the life of one parliament. You have also to change fundamentally how the welfare state works, so that private capital and the market are embedded at the heart of public provision. This is what the NHS, local government, social care, social housing, university and all the other reforms are intended to achieve. The objective is simple: the destruction of the public realm.” And what does this mean for the voluntary sector?
Who’s controlling the voluntary sector: new bosses, new control agenda. Are we witnessing a renewed attempt to harness and control voluntary action? Jay Kennedy, Directory of Social Change’s Head of Policy argues that we are - but this time it’s not the Big State but the Big Market which provides the conceptual blueprints. See www.dsc.org.uk/PolicyandResearch/News/Newbossesnewcontrolagenda?dm_i=6S7,J8LC,29RU6V,1KDNJ,1
Cut and dried? What’s the real impact of the government cuts to the UK voluntary and community sector? There’s been a lot of talk about the impact of the cuts on the voluntary sector in the press recently. Dr Catherine Walker, DSC's Head of STEAM, asks: Does the evidence about cuts back up all the scary rhetoric: www.dsc.org.uk/PolicyandResearch/News/CutanddriedWhatstherealimpactofthegovernmentcutstotheUKvoluntaryandcommunitysector.
Research reveals that deprived areas face the biggest cuts threat. Work under the umbrella of the Third Sector Research Centre reveals that community groups in deprived areas are most at risk of public funding cuts. A consistent theme in the Centre’s work is the uneven capacity of communities. Their quantitative research has begun to show how these patterns relate to underlying social and economic conditions. Professor John Mohan, from the University of Southampton, says: “Research on registered third sector organisations operating at neighbourhood scale, for example, shows that there are fewer organisations per head in more deprived areas. Those organisations operating in more deprived areas are also more likely to be reliant on public funding. Thus the areas with fewest registered third sector organisations are also likely to be in areas most at risk from funding reductions”. More evidence therefore that the ‘Big Society’ is better described as ‘Big Inequality’. See www.tsrc.ac.uk/Research/QuantitativeAnalysis/Distributionoflocalvoluntaryorganisations/tabid/841/Default.aspx.
Future of Britain's poorest families still relies on urgent social investment. Some of Britain's poorest neighbourhoods are at risk of decaying into ghetto-like enclaves if budget cuts halt society's efforts to pull them 'back from the cliff edge', a new book Family Futures warns. Even small improvements to deprived areas, from replacement of old window frames to the retention of local swimming pools, have dramatic effects on the well-being and ambition of the families who live there. The authors warn that unpicking these improvements because of financial pressure may cause severe damage to disadvantaged communities which are sustained in part by constant social and public investment.
LSE professor of social policy Anne Power, who co-wrote the book said: "Family Futures shows that for people who have little choice about where they live their community is even more important to them. Like all of us, they worry about schools, play spaces, the need for children to let off steam, crime, health, housing and their environment. Yet they have little control over most of these things and rely on government and the wider society to help them improve their lives. This can only be done by keeping a framework of support in place but that is what's threatened as public spending is slashed. Families told us how much they rely on this help for their neighbourhoods to work - society needs to keep up this support." Family futures: Childhood and poverty in urban neighbourhoods by Anne Power, Helen Willmot and Rosemary Davidson is published by The Policy Press . £24.99. www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781847429704|
Cuts in the Capital Counter Pickles Pledge. The latest version of the Big Squeeze, London Voluntary Service Council’s regular review of funding cuts in the capital, reveals that just over half of voluntary and community organisations in London axed services last year because of public spending cuts. According to the research, preventive services are being "disproportionately cut, particularly in advice, health and children and young people’s services". 54% of the 120 groups that responded also expected more services to close in 2011/12 and 86% expected demand for their services to increase during the same period. This study concludes that “the cuts being imposed on the voluntary sector are higher than those imposed on the government and local authorities," contrary to the claim of Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, that he didn’t want disproportionate cuts passed on to the voluntary sector. You can see the whole thing here: www.lvsc.org.uk/campaigns/big-squeeze.aspx