In the wake of George Osborne’s first budget speech, many are
wondering how the coalition government’s plans to cut the deficit will
affect the public sector.
The case of the legal aid and human rights charity Refugee and Migrant Justice
provides some rather grim warnings. The organisation is currently under
administration because of changes in the funding of legal aid, which
attempt to ‘marketise’ legal aid provision.
In the library of the Treasury, there is an ancient copy of one of
Keynes’ pamphlets, and it has been scrawled over by Treasury officials
with the words ‘bankruptcy’ and ‘insanity’.
Keynes was challenging the Treasury idea, which seems to have been
in their DNA since time immemorial, that the way out of recession is to
get people to save not spend. The money has to be in the banks, ready
The government wants to build a ‘Big Society’ at the same time as a
imposing a very big squeeze on spending for public services. This will
not work unless spending is focused more sharply on preventing needs
arising or intensifying ,and on supporting individuals and groups so
that they can do more to help themselves and each other.
One good thing about the budget: the recognition by George Osborne
that the financial crisis began with the banks. This was the
justification for the £2 billion bank levy – though, as nef’s Tony Greenham points out, this is only a third of what they paid out in bonuses.
The hedge funds 'shorted' the banks, helping drive them into disaster, just as they have made a massive amount over the past week by shorting the stock market. Imagine in ten years time Chinese hedge funds shorting the US dollar, as the hedge funds did to the Far Eastern currencies in 1997. The mere possibility reveals the truth: we can't go back to business as usual. American national security rules out the old dispensation.
Naomi Klein - author of The Shock Doctrine and No Logo - kicked things off last month, when she encouraged activists to take to the streets and demand for a New Deal.
Meanwhile, there are some encouraging signs that the Green New Deal Group's calls for 'creating and training a carbon army of workers' in green collar jobs are being heard in government. More
This is worrying, not just because it may undermine the solvency of the insurers along with the banks - a clear example of the climate crunch affecting the credit crunch - but because of recent revelations about how short-sighted our financial services are.
In Five Ways to Well-being, we reviewed the empirical evidence collected by Foresight from hundreds of research studies across the world. The outcome is a set of five different kinds of daily activity that, according to the latest and best evidence available, promote well-being and help to buffer against mental health difficulties.
It was especially interesting to hear how John Humphrys went straight for the five ways when interviewing Professor John Beddington on Today this morning. Humphrys claimed that our suggestions were a bit obvious and Pollyannaish, and the fact that people weren't already doing them meant that they had somehow "chosen" not to.