In our second virtual issue of 2021, we focus on central-local relations and feature some of the latest research on that topic from a range of different perspectives and three quite different political systems. Against a backdrop of austerity coupled with an imminent global recession resulting from the pandemic, the politics of central-local relations and their impact on policy are, we believe, even more topical than ever. So we hope that you enjoy this short collection featuring some of our most recent scholarship on this theme. Continue reading →
Owning your own home has long been recognized as a form of asset-based welfare in policy terms. Historic growth in home ownership and house priceshas advanced the assumption that housing equity fulfils a welfarefunction by acting as a store of wealth or even a reserve of cash. However, as Richard Ronald argues, a clear consequence of this policy has been to widen the gap between rich and poor families, as well as between young and old, with access tohousing and housing wealth becoming a critical dimension of social inequality, especially since the last financial crisis.Continue reading →
An extended version of this post was originally published on 3 November 2016 on the blog of the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol. The original post is available at http://policystudies.blogs.ilrt.org/.
Alex Marsh, Chair of the Policy & Politics Management Board and also Professor of Public Policy at the University of Bristol and a leading academic on housing, anticipates some consequences of Monday’s roll out of the Coalition’s policy to lower the cap on benefits. It doesn’t make optimistic reading…
Undermining needs-based social security We are about to see one of the welfare policies of the late, only occasionally lamented Coalition government bear particularly ugly fruit. Next Monday the process of lowering the Overall Benefit Cap (OBC) from £26,000 per year begins. Over the coming months the policy will be rolled out across the country, with the cap being reduced to £20,000 outside London and £23,000 in London. Continue reading →
Jon Pierre is Professor of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg and professor of public governance at the Melbourne School of Government, University of Melbourne. He serves on the editorial advisory board of Policy & Politics.
The two texts could not be more different in style and presentation. For me, reading Bob Jessop has always been like having a bowl of fettuccine al burro in an Italian restaurant; it is pure delicacy but at the same time so incredibly rich that in order not to choke you have to proceed very slowly. You read a paragraph or even just a sentence (sometimes that can be one and the same thing) and then find yourself forced to sit back to take in and digest Bob’s argument. His analysis covers several discourses and perspectives, then puts a diachronic spin on the analysis and ends up asking 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!
Chair of the Policy & Politics Board Alex Marsh reviews the implications of the proposal to cut housing association rents by 1% each year for the next four years, announced as part of the recent government summer budget. This post was originally published on the Policy Press blog.
George Osborne’s recent “emergency” budget proposed many changes to state support to lower income households in a bid to fulfil the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge to cut £12bn from welfare spending.
One unexpected aspect of this package was the proposal to cut housing association rents by 1% each year for the next four years.
This proposal was justified with reference to social housing rent rises over the last few years. These have pushed up the already substantial housing benefit bill. Households have needed greater state assistance in order to afford the rents being set. Bearing down on rents over the next few years will, it is claimed, both reduce the housing benefit bill and force social landlords to deliver efficiency gains. Continue reading →
Everybody seems to accept that there is something wrong with the way that housing is delivered in Britain, particularly in England. In some parts of the country house prices are stubbornly high and rising; elsewhere there seems to be housing nobody wants. All political parties are committed to enabling people to live in homes that they own, yet levels of home ownership are falling as the proportion of the population living in private rented housing rises. More people now live in private rented accommodation than in social or council housing. The massive decline in council house building since the 1980s has not led to a significant rise in the building of new homes for sale.
The solutions on offer by the major political parties seem to circle around the provision of some sort of subsidy to first-time buyers, as well as looking for ways of persuading (sometimes effectively bribing) local authorities and neighbourhoods to allow developers to build in their areas. Under the last Labour government, regional and local targets were introduced for new housing, albeit with few levers to ensure that the targets would be met. The latest proposal from the Conservative Party is to allow tenants of housing association properties to buy the homes they live in at discounted rates, with little reflection on the extent to which the sale of council houses has brought more private rented property onto the market, rather than increasing home ownership.
There is a powerful rhetoric that blames the planning system for the problems. Planners are said to be too slow to grant permission for development and to Continue reading →
By John Hudson, Member of the Policy & Politics Editorial Advisory Board and Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, University of York, UK
In the middle of a lengthy discussion of health reforms in his autobiography, A Journey, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair bemoaned the nature of social scientific research, saying ‘I used to pore over the latest offerings from various highly reputable academic or scholarly quarters, and find nothing of any real practical help’. With his former party once again leaderless and in apparent turmoil following a second successive crushing election defeat, those bidding to follow in Blair’s footsteps as the Labour Party’s next leader will find much food for thought should they pore over the current issue of Policy & Politics.
Looking across Europe, but with a particular focus on the Danish Social Democrats, Christoph Arndt and Kees van Kerbergen explore what they describe as the ‘ill-fated political experience’ of the Third Way approach that Blair once championed. As well as documenting the rise and fall of what once seemed a winning political Continue reading →
You know you’re in for a bit of a treat when Danny Dorling begins by saying he’s written something that is not in the standard journal style; and so it turns out in his paper ‘Policy, politics, health and housing in the UK’. His wide ranging analysis connects recent developments in UK housing policy with a variety of current and possible public health impacts and offers some thoughts on the political motivations of those responsible for these developments. As usual he offers a fine example of engaged scholarship that avoids the piety, academic sniping and wilful opacity that characterises some work in this field.
In a nutshell, since the end of the last millennium we have seen a pronounced rise in private landlordism so that one quarter of all families with children in Britain now live in a home owned by a private landlord, mainly because of transfers of housing from the public sector and the emergence of a tax and welfare regime that underwrites many of the costs of private landlordism. Dorling acknowledges that this policy direction Continue reading →
All recent governments in the UK have pursued ‘financial inclusion’ at the individual level, as part of the broader agenda around ‘asset-based welfare’, that is, efforts to enable individuals to play an enhanced role in ensuring their own long term financial security through asset ownership.
Financial inclusion ostensibly refers to the ability of individuals to participate in the financial system. At the most basic level, it means access to banking services. Often, the benefits of financial inclusion have been articulated in terms of enabling and incentivising individuals to save. Invariably, however, the aim is to ensure individuals are able to access credit (the economic opposite Continue reading →