May 2015 saw another election victory for the Conservative party in a UK general election, as they formed a majority government at Westminster. Many are concerned about the social equity issues arising from some of the policy decisions already announced, not least the £12 billion in welfare cuts announced in the July budget. However, as we suggest in our paper past research shows we should not be surprised about the direction policy is taking – Julian LeGrand’s work analysing the spending priorities implicit in the cuts meted out by the Thatcher government between 1979 and 1983 showed not only that they were focused on welfare, but that they protected “middle class” services such as education and health. These are also the services that Conservative voters were most likely to use. Continue reading
Does ‘Localism’ empower the already powerful? And what do we know about how this happens?
by Annette Hastings, University of Glasgow
“To each that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance, but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.“ The Gospel according to Matthew, 13:12.
I don’t tend to quote the Bible (or indeed any religious text) very often. This Biblical reference does however draw attention to the fact that we have been concerned about the so-called ‘Matthew effect’– or the law of accumulated advantage – for some considerable time. The research (and indeed the policy community) have been rather reluctant to devote very much time and effort to understanding how and why those who are already in positions of advantage are better able to extend that advantage, in comparison to deprived social groups, when it comes to interacting with the local state and in particular public services.
In our free- to- download paper (further evidence that the more you have the more you get!) Peter Matthews from Stirling University and I use an understanding of class interests derived from the work of Pierre Bourdieu to try to understand how it is that public policy processes can empower the already powerful. Continue reading