Subba Reddy Yarram, Brian Dollery and Carolyn Tran
In our recent article in Policy & Politics, we examine the impact of a ‘cap’ on property taxes in the local government system of the Australian state of Victoria. ‘Fair Go rate capping’ was introduced in Victoria from 1 July 2016. Prior to this, general rates charged by local councils in Victoria had grown by an annual average of 6% over a 10 year period. Under the Fair Go policy, the Minister for Local Government sets a maximum permissible rate increase on the advice of the Victorian Essential Services Commission. The actual rates cap was set at 2% for 2016-17 and 2.5% for 2017-18 based on the forecast Consumer Price Index.
In principle, the rate caps limit the ability of local councils to raise revenue required to fund their ongoing operations, often in the hope that this will stimulate increased operational efficiency. In our article, we empirically investigated two main questions: What were the short-term impacts of the Fair Go rate capping on different types of municipal expenditure? Did Fair Go rate capping have a differential impact on the different categories of Victorian local councils? Analysis of these questions can shed light how best to frame local government policy tailored to accommodate different categories of local council facing different expenditure constraints. Continue reading →
Britain’s public assets are now the subject of a giant boot sale. The great rolling privatisation juggernaut not only includes the £4bn Green Investment Bank, and the bailed-out Lloyds Bank but is now eyeing up assets like Channel 4 and the Met Office. The government hopes that together they will deliver £32bn in revenue this year alone from the sell-off.
Privatisation was originally sold as the route to Mrs Thatcher’s much vaunted ‘popular capitalism’. Yet shares bought by the public through privatisation have mostly been sold immediately. Far from spreading wealth, decades of sell-offs have merely skewed the economy even more heavily in favour of a few private owners helping to fuel Britain’s widening wealth and income gap.
No longer able to claim it will spread popular capitalism – always a myth – the government has a new defence: sales will help pay down the deficit. Yet it makes little sense to use long term capital assets to finance a temporary revenue gap. Continue reading →
Here’s a sneak preview of our October edition which will be published at the end of this month. Read on to scan this post for links to the articles in this forthcoming edition. If you have difficulty accessing the full text, it may be because your institution doesn’t subscribe to Policy & Politics. If that’s the case, do try our free trial or recommend the journal to your librarian.
Opening with a tour d’horizon entitled Crises, crisis-management and state restructuring: what future for the state?, Bob Jessop provides an insightful critical overview of what constitutes ‘the state’. In exploring a range of challenges to the state, some of which ‘condense’ into crises, he offers some thoughts on the future of the state, its management of crises and its challenges.
Continuing with the theme of the state, but with a specific focus on welfare, Peter Taylor-Gooby argues powerfully about the critical need for a welfare state, particularly in the context of harsh spending cuts which affect the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society. In his article Making the Case for the Welfare State, he argues for more inclusive discourses around welfare, so reframing the way people think about work, reward and welfare.
Craig Berry’s article also addresses the issue of welfare. In Citizenship in a financialised society: financial inclusion and the state before and after the crash, he unpacks the ‘financial inclusion’ agenda which has been extensively promoted by successive UK governments. This agenda, he argues, can ‘empower’ individuals to play an enhanced role in ensuring their own financial security without relying on the state. However, in his subsequent critical analysis, he reveals its more covert aspects, such as the increased hidden risks that ‘financial inclusion’ exposes individuals to, in order to secure macroeconomic growth at all costs.
There is further exploration of the role of the state, this time in relation to the markets, in Allan Cochrane and Bob Colenutt’s piece on Governing the Ungovernable: spatial policy, markets and volume house-building in a growth region. They deconstruct the global rhetoric promoting the role of private markets in the provision of new housing and how it masks a more complex reality. They offer perceptive critical reflections on the consequences of policies that sanction ‘light touch’ state involvement in a housing development market shaped by the priorities of powerful corporate actors.
Exploring a wide-ranging array of other policy issues, this edition of Policy & Politics also includes an article by Gary Bridge and Deborah Wilson called Towards an interactive sociological rational choice approach to theorising class dimensions of school choice. By exploring the value of two established perspectives on decision-making, they develop a third framework for explaining how school choices are made by parents in the UK. They argue that using this new framework could result in policy benefits such as reducing social class differentials between schools and subsequent educational outcomes.
In a similar vein, Annette Hastings and Peter Matthews proffer a new approach for analysing middle class service use in their article on Bourdieu and the Big Society: empowering the powerful in public service provision? Building on Bourdieu’s theory of practice to theorise middle-class use of public services, they proffer a new theoretical framework and evidence how engagement with the state is a classed practice, producing benefits for those already empowered. They conclude with a call to action to policy scholars and practitioners to fully understand how advantage comes about, so that it can be challenged if it is unfair and leads to detrimental outcomes.
Last but not least, Keerty Nakray explores the concept of gender budgeting and the challenges to operationalising gender justice in India in her article on Gender budgeting and public policy: the challenges to operationalising gender justice in India. In a thorough analysis of the Indian gender budget statement of 2005, Nakray demonstrates how incomplete the process was. It failed to take into account all the gender budget procedures that needed to be implemented in order to achieve tangible gender equality outcomes, despite being viewed as a progressive development by the transnational feminist movement. She highlights that gender budgets should be further consolidated within central administrative mechanisms to result in more gender sensitive approaches to governance.
That was rather a whistle-stop tour through this month’s edition packed with impactful research findings. I do hope it’ll encourage you to click through to read the articles themselves.
I hope you enjoy the issue. Feedback always welcome!
In this article Andrew Sayerrevives some concepts – ‘unearned income’, ‘rentiers’, ‘functionless investors’, and ‘improperty’ – to explain why the very rich are unjust and dysfunctional. We need to challenge the myth that the rich are specially-talented wealth creators, he argues. This article is reposted from the British Politics and Policy Blog.
In light of the news that the richest 80 people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population, all 3.5 billion of them, and at the time of the plutocrats’ World Economic Forum in Davos, many people are talking about the extraordinary concentration of wealth at the top.
Here in the UK, the combined wealth of the richest 1,000 people is £519 billion (up from $450 billion in 2013). That’s over 4 times the size of the annual NHS budget (£127 billion), 12 times the size of the education bill (£42 billion), and 9 times the size of the welfare bill (£58 billion). We might well ask which of these figures can’t we afford? Given the tendency of the rich to portray themselves as specially-talented wealth creators we have to ask whether these inequalities are justified. In my new book Why We Can’t Afford the Rich, I argue they are unjust and dysfunctional. Continue reading →