Finding the Big Society – on the streets

When you picture the Big Society, what do you think of? The great and the good descending on Downing Street for an exclusive launch party? People planting vegetables in public parks?


Spending cuts threaten the best of children’s services

Following an assessment of children’s services departments in England in 2009, Ofsted has recently reported  that one of the defining features of the ten local authorities who were awarded an ‘excellent’ rating – the highest of the four ratings available - was their focus on early intervention and prevention; ‘emerging concerns are identified at an early stage, leading to properly targeted support from a range More

Opportunity cost of growth

Economics is about counting costs, and the cost to be counted is “opportunity cost,” arguably the most basic concept in economics. It is defined as the next best alternative to the one chosen, in other words, as the best of the sacrificed alternatives. You chose the best alternative, the opportunity cost is the second best, the alternative that you would choose if the best were unavailable. If there were no scarcity, choice would not be necessary, there would be no opportunity cost, and economics would not exist. More

Dispatches from the Great Re-skilling

Something is going on out there.  More than 80 people have signed up for various training projects for my local Transition Town project in Brixton, which is known in the Transition world as ‘re-skilling’.

In the Great Re-skilling of Lewes project, a whole list of courses at the local library from now until the autumn cover basket-making, quilting and bike maintenance.


Plugging the Leaks in Mozambique

They came in unmanageably large numbers; at one point we’d counted more than 90 young people who had made their way from their scattered houses around the village to the meeting place. More

The Five Ways to Well-being: now as giant puppets, fairy tales and a quiche

It's been over eighteen months since nef launched the Five Ways to Well-being, a collection of simple actions that have been proven to enhance quality of life. We developed them originally for the UK Government's Foresight project on Mental Capital and Well-being, but they've since found life much further afield.


The missing lending infrastructure - and what to do about it

The fight back by the banking lobby, determined to cling to the status quo, seems to have begun in earnest. 

First it was HSBC warning about the consequences of splitting retail from banking from speculative banking.  Then it was Barclays setting aside 40 per cent of its investment banking income for bonuses, while threatening to leave the UK altogether.


Real-time happiness data launched for the UK

When my colleague Nic Marks, Founder of nef’s centre for well-being, talks about ways that society could better promote well-being for its citizens, one of the things he often points to is the role that could be played by real time well-being data. The idea is that rather than nightly news reports being rounded off with updates on movements in the FTSE 100 and global currency markets – practically unintelligible to many of us – we should instead hear about national levels of well-being measured that day. More

UK Fish Dependence: The increasing reliance of the UK on fish from elsewhere

Wrecking the Ocean


A shorter working week would benefit society

Phasing out compulsory retirement must be a sensible idea. Providing for a right to retire at an age pegged to rising life expectancy may be a sensible next step. More

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