LATEST ARTICLES
CV
Threat of Johnson’s fantasy economics 19 July 2019 In his campaign for the Conservative leadership, Boris Johnson has pledged more bobbies on the beat, a budget boost for schools and his team hinted at public sector pay rises. But his warm words about public services are underpinned by fantasy economics. His most eye-catching public service commitment has been to reverse his party’s cuts to policing by finding £1.1bn to hire 20,000 more police officers. Johnson sees his record on cutting crime as London mayor as one of his most impressive achievements, although it is less persuasive when compared with long-term national trends. But this pitch to restore the Tories’ battered reputation as the party of law and order misses the point that cutting crime requires substantial and sustained investment in technology, as well as addressing weaknesses in the regional structure of police forces. Some of those promised officers should be traded for better kit and stronger organisation. The cost of his promise on policing is dwarfed by his commitment to boost the budget for English schools by £4.6bn, with the aim of returning school spending per pupil to its 2015 peak. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Self-reliance on the road to Wigan cheer 5 July 2019 Wigan council has achieved a remarkable feat. Despite cuts of £140m, it has maintained, even improved, its services, and transformed its relationship with residents. But there has been a cost: more than 1,000 of its staff have lost their jobs – roughly a fifth of the workforce. Under relentless pressure to do more with less, all councils have had to make cuts. Many also bandy the word transformation around, but few achieve it. A study of Wigan by the King’s Fund makes clear this council is an exception. The bedrock of Wigan’s approach is a new relationship with both its staff and local people. It has rejected the paternalism that bedevils many public services in favour of working with individuals, families and communities to nurture their strengths and build independence and self-reliance. This is known locally as the Wigan Deal. Key to its success has been farsighted financial planning. While many councils in the early years of austerity became fixated on what they had to cut, Wigan looked at evidence from across the country to decide what it could do differently. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Mandarins face select committees trial 25 June 2019 Four decades after its creation, the modern select committee system has become the most public test of civil service skill. Live broadcasts of these inquisitions by MPs and peers can build or wreck reputations and expose departments to relentless political and media assault. According to the House of Commons Liaison Committee of select committee chairs, they are there “to require ministers and civil servants to explain and justify their actions and policies, to subject them to robust challenge, and to expose government – both ministerial decision-making and departmental administration – to the public gaze”. This means scrutinising how they take decisions, spend public money and run their operations, and what they achieve. Since 1980 the approach of successive governments to the relationship between civil servants and select committees has been framed by the Osmotherly Rules, named after the civil servant who wrote them. Alice Lilly, senior researcher at the Institute for Government, says the key principle behind the rules is that “ministers are directly accountable to parliament, and governments over time have taken that to mean that civil servants, when they appear before committees, do so under the direction and instruction of their ministers.” Read the full article at Civil Service World __________________________________________________________________ Getting to the root causes of inequality 19 June 2019 Media coverage of the relentless advice to eat less, eat better, and do more gives the impression that the growing problem of health inequalities could largely be solved simply by badgering enough people into laying off fried chicken. The excitement around the Henry programme (Health, Exercise, Nutrition for the Really Young) in Leeds, which claimed to have reduced childhood obesity by helping parents give children choices while maintaining boundaries, shows how seductive this narrative can be (and it should be noted that there is a lively debate in the British Medical Journal about exactly what the programme achieved). Now the Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP) has published a major study, Beyond the NHS - addressing the root causes of poor health, which examines how everything from crime to education lie at the heart of our serious and growing health inequalities. Launched at the House of Commons with public health expert Sir Michael Marmot a decade after his landmark review, its analysis indicates that the current population of England will lose around 80 million life years through socio-economic inequality, which will also take another 170 million years of healthy life. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Connecting the NHS and social policy 29 May 2019 The NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, has been remarkably successful in prising more money for the health service out of the government, but short-term ministerial thinking about the service and its resources has resulted in an unedifying, dysfunctional scramble for cash in austerity Britain. Finally, though, ideas are emerging that could change all that. Trying to meet rising expectations without the money to do it has driven the NHS to run every part of the system hot. As fissures open up in budgets and services, the army of healthcare special interest groups such as the BMA trade union, NHS Confederation and the medical royal colleges – which collectively far outgun the rest of the public sector for political influence – portray every difficulty as a lethal crisis. When Treasury resistance is finally overcome, unrealistic promises have to be made to provide political cover for the capitulation. Then the dance begins again as the NHS pursues another set of unrealistic goals with too little money and too few staff. Crucially, this political battle is largely disconnected from any debate around wider social policy goals, save for the fact that everyone is scrapping over taxpayers’ money. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ We don’t need identikit, soulless boxes 13 May 2019 A glance through the window of virtually any long-distance train reveals how much countryside is being gobbled up by identikit, soulless, mediocre housing designed around cars. Earlier this month, the housing minister, Kit Malthouse, predicted that many of the boxes being thrown up on the outskirts of towns would soon be “ripped down and bulldozed” as unsuitable. The evidence for his claim is simple. As Malthouse observed, housing is the one thing that virtually everyone likes to buy secondhand – and that means the issue of housing quality is now critical, particularly given the government’s aim to get 300,000 new homes built every year by the mid- 2020s. But despite new planning guidance, billions being poured into financial support for housebuilding and land supply and growing political and public pressure over the shameful growth in homelessness, this government is no nearer to working out how to build enough good quality, affordable homes that will adapt to people’s changing needs. Ipsos Mori research for the Royal Institute of British Architects found that people prefer Victorian and Georgian homes that feel more spacious, light and flexible, while Riba’s Future Homes Commission pointed out how poky many British homes are by European standards. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Austerity’s pitiless, remorseless logic 26 April 2019 New analysis of council spending in England has exposed a cruel twist in the homelessness scandal: single homeless people are paying the price for the growing number of families in desperate need of shelter. The true scale of homelessness is obscured thanks to the official figures being inherently unreliable. But as an investigation by WPI Economics for the charities St Mungo’s and Homeless Link makes clear, even by the government’s own reckoning, more than 4,500 people were sleeping rough in England last year while more than 80,000 households were in temporary accommodation. According to 2017 figures from the charity Crisis, the number of households in England, Scotland and Wales defined as suffering “core” homelessness – which includes all forms of temporary shelter such as rough sleeping, sofa surfing, squatting and hostels as well as temporary housing – is likely to be about 160,000. It rose by 33% between 2011 and 2016. In 2017, almost 600 people died sleeping rough in England and Wales, aged, on average, just 47. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Onagawa rises from tsunami wreckage 17 April 2019 On the shore of eastern Japan a wrecked police station lies on its side, ripped from the ground by the tsunami that devastated the country in 2011. “We are going to keep that building as a reminder of the disaster,” says Yoshinori Taura, assistant director of the town of Onagawa’s recovery promotion division. “To make sure the memories are passed to the next generation.” This is about more than sentiment. Onagawa was obliterated by the tsunami; as it builds a new future, the ruined police station will be a daily reminder to run to high ground whenever the tsunami siren sounds. But the reconstruction is about more than keeping the town safe from natural disasters. The municipality is also trying to find a way to build a thriving, bustling community despite massive population decline. The tsunami only accelerated Onagawa’s precipitous shrinking, which is now the fastest of any of the country’s municipalities: between 1965 and 2011, the population halved, to 10,000. It has now dropped to around 6,500. How could the town not merely rebuild after the worst disaster in Japan  since the atomic bombings, but somehow also stay active and bustling? Read the full article at the Guardian __________________________________________________________________
Public Policy Media Richard Vize
Public Policy Media Richard Vize
LATEST ARTICLES
CV
Threat of Johnson’s fantasy economics 19 July 2019 In his campaign for the Conservative leadership, Boris Johnson has pledged more bobbies on the beat, a budget boost for schools and his team hinted at public sector pay rises. But his warm words about public services are underpinned by fantasy economics. His most eye-catching public service commitment has been to reverse his party’s cuts to policing by finding £1.1bn to hire 20,000 more police officers. Johnson sees his record on cutting crime as London mayor as one of his most impressive achievements, although it is less persuasive when compared with long-term national trends. But this pitch to restore the Tories’ battered reputation as the party of law and order misses the point that cutting crime requires substantial and sustained investment in technology, as well as addressing weaknesses in the regional structure of police forces. Some of those promised officers should be traded for better kit and stronger organisation. The cost of his promise on policing is dwarfed by his commitment to boost the budget for English schools by £4.6bn, with the aim of returning school spending per pupil to its 2015 peak. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Self-reliance on the road to Wigan cheer 5 July 2019 Wigan council has achieved a remarkable feat. Despite cuts of £140m, it has maintained, even improved, its services, and transformed its relationship with residents. But there has been a cost: more than 1,000 of its staff have lost their jobs – roughly a fifth of the workforce. Under relentless pressure to do more with less, all councils have had to make cuts. Many also bandy the word transformation around, but few achieve it. A study of Wigan by the King’s Fund makes clear this council is an exception. The bedrock of Wigan’s approach is a new relationship with both its staff and local people. It has rejected the paternalism that bedevils many public services in favour of working with individuals, families and communities to nurture their strengths and build independence and self-reliance. This is known locally as the Wigan Deal. Key to its success has been farsighted financial planning. While many councils in the early years of austerity became fixated on what they had to cut, Wigan looked at evidence from across the country to decide what it could do differently. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Mandarins face select committees trial 25 June 2019 Four decades after its creation, the modern select committee system has become the most public test of civil service skill. Live broadcasts of these inquisitions by MPs and peers can build or wreck reputations and expose departments to relentless political and media assault. According to the House of Commons Liaison Committee of select committee chairs, they are there “to require ministers and civil servants to explain and justify their actions and policies, to subject them to robust challenge, and to expose government – both ministerial decision-making and departmental administration – to the public gaze”. This means scrutinising how they take decisions, spend public money and run their operations, and what they achieve. Since 1980 the approach of successive governments to the relationship between civil servants and select committees has been framed by the Osmotherly Rules, named after the civil servant who wrote them. Alice Lilly, senior researcher at the Institute for Government, says the key principle behind the rules is that “ministers are directly accountable to parliament, and governments over time have taken that to mean that civil servants, when they appear before committees, do so under the direction and instruction of their ministers.” Read the full article at Civil Service World __________________________________________________________________ Getting to the root causes of inequality 19 June 2019 Media coverage of the relentless advice to eat less, eat better, and do more gives the impression that the growing problem of health inequalities could largely be solved simply by badgering enough people into laying off fried chicken. The excitement around the Henry programme (Health, Exercise, Nutrition for the Really Young) in Leeds, which claimed to have reduced childhood obesity by helping parents give children choices while maintaining boundaries, shows how seductive this narrative can be (and it should be noted that there is a lively debate in the British Medical Journal  about exactly what the programme achieved). Now the Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP) has published a major study, Beyond the NHS - addressing the root causes of poor health, which examines how everything from crime to education lie at the heart of our serious and growing health inequalities. Launched at the House of Commons with public health expert Sir Michael Marmot a decade after his landmark review, its analysis indicates that the current population of England will lose around 80 million life years through socio- economic inequality, which will also take another 170 million years of healthy life. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Connecting the NHS and social policy 29 May 2019 The NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, has been remarkably successful in prising more money for the health service out of the government, but short-term ministerial thinking about the service and its resources has resulted in an unedifying, dysfunctional scramble for cash in austerity Britain. Finally, though, ideas are emerging that could change all that. Trying to meet rising expectations without the money to do it has driven the NHS to run every part of the system hot. As fissures open up in budgets and services, the army of healthcare special interest groups such as the BMA trade union, NHS Confederation and the medical royal colleges – which collectively far outgun the rest of the public sector for political influence – portray every difficulty as a lethal crisis. When Treasury resistance is finally overcome, unrealistic promises have to be made to provide political cover for the capitulation. Then the dance begins again as the NHS pursues another set of unrealistic goals with too little money and too few staff. Crucially, this political battle is largely disconnected from any debate around wider social policy goals, save for the fact that everyone is scrapping over taxpayers’ money. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ We don’t need identikit, soulless boxes 13 May 2019 A glance through the window of virtually any long-distance train reveals how much countryside is being gobbled up by identikit, soulless, mediocre housing designed around cars. Earlier this month, the housing minister, Kit Malthouse, predicted that many of the boxes being thrown up on the outskirts of towns would soon be “ripped down and bulldozed” as unsuitable. The evidence for his claim is simple. As Malthouse observed, housing is the one thing that virtually everyone likes to buy secondhand – and that means the issue of housing quality is now critical, particularly given the government’s aim to get 300,000 new homes built every year by the mid-2020s. But despite new planning guidance, billions being poured into financial support for housebuilding and land supply and growing political and public pressure over the shameful growth in homelessness, this government is no nearer to working out how to build enough good quality, affordable homes that will adapt to people’s changing needs. Ipsos Mori research for the Royal Institute of British Architects found that people prefer Victorian and Georgian homes that feel more spacious, light and flexible, while Riba’s Future Homes Commission pointed out how poky many British homes are by European standards. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Austerity’s pitiless, remorseless logic 26 April 2019 New analysis of council spending in England has exposed a cruel twist in the homelessness scandal: single homeless people are paying the price for the growing number of families in desperate need of shelter. The true scale of homelessness is obscured thanks to the official figures being inherently unreliable. But as an investigation by WPI Economics for the charities St Mungo’s and Homeless Link makes clear, even by the government’s own reckoning, more than 4,500 people were sleeping rough in England last year while more than 80,000 households were in temporary accommodation. According to 2017 figures from the charity Crisis, the number of households in England, Scotland and Wales defined as suffering “core” homelessness – which includes all forms of temporary shelter such as rough sleeping, sofa surfing, squatting and hostels as well as temporary housing – is likely to be about 160,000. It rose by 33% between 2011 and 2016. In 2017, almost 600 people died sleeping rough in England and Wales, aged, on average, just 47. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Onagawa rises from tsunami wreckage 17 April 2019 On the shore of eastern Japan a wrecked police station lies on its side, ripped from the ground by the tsunami that devastated the country in 2011. “We are going to keep that building as a reminder of the disaster,” says Yoshinori Taura, assistant director of the town of Onagawa’s recovery promotion division. “To make sure the memories are passed to the next generation.” This is about more than sentiment. Onagawa was obliterated by the tsunami; as it builds a new future, the ruined police station will be a daily reminder to run to high ground whenever the tsunami siren sounds. But the reconstruction is about more than keeping the town safe from natural disasters. The municipality is also trying to find a way to build a thriving, bustling community despite massive population decline. The tsunami only accelerated Onagawa’s precipitous shrinking, which is now the fastest of any of the country’s municipalities: between 1965 and 2011, the population halved, to 10,000. It has now dropped to around 6,500. How could the town not merely rebuild after the worst disaster in Japan since the atomic bombings, but somehow also stay active and bustling? Read the full article at the Guardian __________________________________________________________________