Category: Policy

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Trusting in history

Andrew Leach

That the National Trust could so upset a seemingly large swathe of its traditional supporter base is perhaps one more event to add to the weird dystopia that is 2020. But upset them it has. Not by changing the recipe for its Victoria sponge, nor by once more asking its volunteers to wear a rainbow […]

Thousands face winter of homelessness as eviction ban ends

Natalie Bennett

Yesterday (Wednesday) the House of Lords debated motions expressing its – and many others’ – grave concern about the plight of many facing the threat of a winter of homelessness, with the Covid-19 emergency eviction ban ended. It was noted, in the dry, formal terminology of such things, that the legal change “will permit evictions […]

Home Office risks immigration decisions being driven by “anecdote, assumption and prejudice”

Dr Stella Perrott

On 18 September, the Conservative-dominated public accounts committee (which examines the value for money of government projects, programmes and service delivery) published its report: ‘Immigration Enforcement’. The findings are damning, concluding that the Home Office’s approach risks making decisions on “anecdote, assumption and prejudice”. The directorate responsible for immigration enforcement has, as its vision: “to […]

Five areas in Yorkshire and the Humber named ‘least socially mobile’ in the UK

Alex Toal

Figures released yesterday by the Social Mobility Commission reveal that five local authorities in the Yorkshire and the Humber region are among the 24 least socially mobile in the country. Bradford is listed in 2nd place, behind only Chiltern in the South East, with Hull, Rotherham, Kirklees and North East Lincolnshire all featuring on the […]

Fight to save Leeds housing estate

Stephen Delahunty

Residents at a privately owned social housing estate near Leeds are fighting to save their community from an investment firm that has plans to demolish residents’ homes in favour of “executive, expensive housing”. Pemberstone has owned the estate for more than 20 years. It submitted an original planning application in October 2017 as it considers […]

Not at all Good, seriously Bad, and incredibly Ugly: government game-playing is immature, disrespectful and downright dangerous

Amanda Robinson

As Anthony Robinson (no relation) highlighted on the 14 September, the UK government announced last week that they intend to break international law. Perfectly stated by David Allen Green, “the government of the United Kingdom is proposing to enact legislation that is deliberately intended to make it possible for ministers to make regulations that would […]

UK internal market bill: Henry VIII powers on steroids

Natalie Bennett

Unless you’ve just splashed down from Mars, you’ll have noticed that the government has got itself into a great deal of hot water over the internal market bill. Former prime ministers, of various hues, have lined up to express their horror at its cavalier, casual dismissal of international law and repudiation of a treaty that […]

Rebels with a clause: now the fun and games will start

Jane Thomas

Ester Weber, reporter at The Times told twitter this morning: “One Tory MP in a big Leave constituency tells me: ‘In a patch like mine I think almost anything would be tolerated in the name of Brexit … Except fly-tipping.’” This may well be true, and the expectation that the government is about to fall […]

Grenfell: the price of property profiteering

Andrew Leach

At around 1am on the 14 June, 2017, an apocalyptic inferno engulfed a residential apartment block in unimaginable horror. The block was Grenfell Tower, a 23-storey building. An electrical fire that began in a flat on the fourth floor quickly consumed the entire structure. Some 72 people died that night. The primary reason for the […]

Mum’s the word?

Dr Pam Jarvis
blue jeans

Childcare for working families is one of those perennial problematic societal issues, such as youth unemployment and domestic violence, which has not been created by covid but simply exacerbated by it, as it relentlessly picks at existing fault lines in our society. Antonia Bance, head of communications at the TUC, recently picked up the baton […]

The not-so-genius evil behind the stamp duty holiday

Andy Brown
building metal house architecture

One thing we have all learned in lockdown is that where you live really matters. Being told to stay at home in a lovely house in the country is not the same as being told to confine yourself in a shared damp flat at the top of a high rise in an inner city. So […]

Beyond lockdown: what now for schools?

Dr Pam Jarvis
alphabet class conceptual cube

The debate about returning to school continues in England, while Scotland’s schools have already returned. Boris Johnson claims that there is a “moral duty” for schools to fully re-open in September, but as ever, appears to be covering a lack of detail with his familiar, flowery rhetoric. Some media sources cite psychological problems in children […]

The bigger picture beyond the exams fiasco

Mary Boothman
happy student throwing papers in air in park

Might the resignation of the chief regulator, Sally Collier – followed swiftly by the sacking of Jonathan Slater, permanent secretary to the Department for Education – draw a line under the exams debacle of recent weeks? I very much doubt it, nor do I believe they should have been the ones to take the hit. […]

The housing and planning bill we should have had

Andrew Cooper

The Conservative government’s proposals in the business and planning bill have been justly criticised for being far too developer-friendly, to the detriment of the local environment, climate change, housing standards and local democracy. The bill panders to the interests of big builders and not those of millions of people who need low cost, secure housing […]

Our future: towns and cities

Hugh Goulbourne

Some of you may have been watching the BBC’s programme on the regeneration of Manchester (Manctopia) with a mixture of horror and fascination. Here on this side of the Pennines I think we can do things better, in a way that includes local people and is fair to all. Our towns and city centres are […]

A tale of two cities: the state of Sheffield

Jane Thomas

This Friday sees the annual State of Sheffield event, an opportunity for Sheffield City Partnership to showcase its work of the last year, and for people across the city to identify and shape plans for the future. Unsurprisingly, the unprecedented challenges of coronavirus have meant this year’s report is focusing on what life has been […]

Our food standards are too important to be left to ministers

Lady Harris
brown cattle on green lawn grass during daytime

One of the most important pieces of legislation we are considering presently in the House of Lords is the agriculture bill. During its passage through the House of Commons it was argued that this bill needed to include a ban on food products which were imported to the UK – but didn’t meet our strict […]

Might community learning hubs solve our schooling crisis?

Andrew Milson

Isn’t it amazing how simple many things appear until you really start to look into them? I remember my first time playing on a full-sized snooker table, confidently expecting to saunter round the baize dispatching the perky spheres into the hungry pockets. Maybe, just maybe, my opponent wouldn’t even get a chance to come to […]

Slaves to the algorithm: our four-year-olds are next in line

Dr Pam Jarvis
multicolored abacus photography

So, after three days of insistence that their algorithm was appropriate, and following its enthusiastic endorsement by Michael Gove, the Department for Education capitulated and agreed to let Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) stand as A-level and GCSE students’ final grades. However, many questions are left to ponder. The shadow attorney general maintains that in allocating […]

If not an algorithm, economic background will determine grades

Jacob Taylor

The A-level results fiasco is just the tip of the educational inequality iceberg, one which extends even beyond the issue of private and grammar schools, but is nevertheless exacerbated by it. Underlying the broad inequalities we find in our education system is one key ingredient: socioeconomic inequality. We must now quickly learn the lesson that […]

Isolating the imagination: the decline of languages

Dr M M Gilchrist

Amid the furore over the mangling of this year’s A-level results, one statistic stood out for me: only 7,557 students took French. While the numbers taking Spanish rose slightly, those taking German fell by 6 percent. This decline in European languages in state schools is worrying, accompanied also by a decline in the humanities, such […]

Government blunders: learning from the past

Dr Stella Perrott

In their book, published in 2013, The Blunders of Our Governments, Ivor Crew and Anthony King explore 12 examples of government blunders, all of which took place prior to the majority Conservative government of 2015. Their examples are from Conservative, coalition and Labour administrations. A summary of the findings can be found here. They define […]

From crisis to opportunity: is the pandemic the catalyst to reshaping health and care services in England?

Peter Ellis
surgeons performing surgery

Politicians are attempting to blame various Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) agencies, for England’s lacklustre performance in managing the pandemic. It is a paradox that such political ‘blame gaming’ highlights what I believe are some of the inherent and longstanding problems that have limited the NHS’s potential. This is exacerbated by misinformation leaked […]

Gavin Williamson has failed his test

Andy Brown
auditorium benches chairs class

Every reasonable person knows that government isn’t easy. Particularly in a pandemic. Making real time decisions when events are unfolding at speed inevitably produces mistakes. Yet the vast majority of the mistakes made in the exam fiasco don’t fall into that category. They were avoidable and there was plenty of time to look properly into […]

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