This week’s Radar continues to pick through the aftermath of the Comprehensive Spending Review, takes a quick look at localism, and presents a couple of pieces of interesting miscellany.
As I wrote about the CSR last week, I wondered whether the relentless news coverage and scrutiny of the cuts would die away as the next footballer used both the front and back pages to negotiate a new contract. Fortunately that hasn’t happened, and the ramifications of last week’s review are still daily being picked apart on both sides of the political divide. This week’s central issue has been the government’s housing reform, with commentators vying to use the most inflammatory language to describe the possibility that cuts in housing benefits could lead to a mass exodus of poor families from major cities. Boris Johnson did his best to win the prize, outlining his opposition to “Kosovo-style social cleansing”, before being pipped to the post by Polly Toynbee, who described the potential exodus as the Tories’ “final solution for the poor”. Both subsequently backed away from their comments. Here is the, fairly unsettling, story from Inside Housing about London councils preparing to move people claiming local housing allowance to distant accommodation.
Other cuts-related comment that caught my eye this week;
- Two reports indicated that the north of England is set to be hit particularly badly by the cuts. The first is Well North of Fair from IPPR North, and the second is analysis of the review from Centre for Cities.
- Two pieces from American commentators. Dean Baker, co-director of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, wrote in the Guardian that the UK could be about to do the rest of the world, and particularly the US, a huge favour by showing how disastrous it can be to cut your way out of recession. The second is a hilarious piece of unwanted praise for David Cameron from the incredibly hard-line ex-presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, who is so supportive of the coalition government’s austerity drive that he described Cameron as a ‘Tea Party Tory’. I read this in The Spectator, who clearly didn’t really know what to do with it, and it’s hard to imagine Cameron being too pleased at such an enthusiastic endorsement from the American far right. As an aside, reading coverage of the US midterm elections this week has brought home to me that, whatever you think about the spending cuts, we’re lucky not to live in as fractious a political climate as has been prevalent in the States over the last couple of years.
One of the apparent contradictions in coalition policy is that, while local councils are having their budgets cut significantly, the government is seemingly committed to a localism drive, with local people increasingly solving local issues. The Big Society concept, for example, relies heavily on communities and councils not relying on central government to address problems. This interest in localism will only increase in November, as the Localism Bill makes its way through parliament on the 22nd of that month. This week Julian Dobson, formerly of New Start Magazine, wrote a blog post entitled Lipservice and The Localism Bill, which questions whether the reality will match the keen rhetoric, and whether citizens will be adequately supported in addressing their local issues. Meanwhile, the colossal mess that has been the Tower Hamlets mayoral election finally stuttered to a close last week with a dubious candidate elected by a tiny minority of eligible voters, in what Julian Glover in The Guardian described as “localism at its very worst”. For Glover this raises the question; what happens when local people “get it wrong”?
And finally, a couple of pieces that don’t neatly fit elsewere;
- Rowena Lewis, who spoke so well at Vanilla’s Third Sector Women event a fortnight ago has written a blog piece welcoming the opportunity Third Sector Women offers women in the sector. Unfortunately you have to sign up to read the full post, but it’s well worth it.
- The Harvard Business Review carries a piece this week identifying how the increasingly blurred dividing lines between sectors have led to what they term ‘Non-Corporate Organisations’ (NCOs), enterprises that aim to produce a mix of value, rather than just financial.