With 2015 fast approaching, we look back at some of our favourite posts of the year and how they reflect key concerns within public and social policy …
Evidence became a buzz word
Centrally-driven schemes to promote evidence use, such as the What Works network, became more firmly embedded in the policy landscape this year. Whether they will succeed in their stated desire to improve decision-making, especially at the level of local services, remains to be seen.
Making the connections: joining up research and local government
The use and application of knowledge: a practitioner’s guide
How preventative policymaking could benefit local authorities
Evidence-based policy resources: reading list
The economy showed signs of improvement and a move back towards sustained growth. But constraints on local government finances continued, with the extent and potential impact of the cuts represented in December’s financial settlement for English councils for 2015-16 being hotly debated.
While some continued to suggest that combined authorities and shared services could provide major efficiencies, the voluntary sector appeared to be the biggest losers as the Big Society ideology finally floundered and co-production agendas risked becoming a way for public bodies to transfer risk and cut services.
8 ways local authorities can support community empowerment in an age of austerity
Using service design for user-focused, cost-effective public services
Co-production and the changing relationship between citizen and state
Why local authorities should support community organisations delivering local services
New solutions proposed for old planning problems
Garden cities were endorsed by the UK Government in an April prospectus, and then in their announcements of plans for new housing at Ebbsfleet and Bicester. The Wolfson Prize for Economics this year also focused on how to deliver a garden city which is visionary, economically viable and popular.
The question remains whether the public are ready to accept the reality of constructing new settlements. The ongoing controversy over building in the green belt suggests that it could turn into a battle of vested interests versus public opinion, played out in the media and at local council meetings across the country.
Garden cities – back to the future
Loosening the belt –the debate over building on green belt land
Check back tomorrow for part 2 of our round up….
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Prevention as THE central argument, to an ‘ageing activist’ now living alone and despairing of the lack of any thoughtful reflection and neighbourbour-less in my particular city, yet alone any proof of a debate between town halls and their communities, seems to me so obvious that it should be on every agenda. Unless we can think about causative, anticipatory and alternative structures how can we ever consider the essential concept of ‘prevention.’ Again, as a retired social worker who never liked his ‘trade’ and very much regrets its present move toward becoming a ‘profession’ – note Bernard Shaw’s sharp view on ‘a conspiracy against the laity’ – radical community development theory and practice provides a more than achievable means of exploring one way forward. In which bureaucracies can be critically challenged, power effectively re-distributed from the grass-roots upwards and inter-disciplinary thinking could become a central principle through enabling/facilitative energies. While peer relationships are already beginning to resolve many social problems and working ‘with’, as opposed to ‘for,’ people on the receiving ends of too many top-down systems could under-pin our opposition to one-sided power games which have become so entrenched. Unconsciously, and consciously, reinforcing top-down systems and failing to create the space for a beginning dialogue around the importance of a more equal society. But there are alternatives around, everything from family conference groups, identifying the many key figures and natural leaders on every street, building contemporary community banking thinking with credit unions, re-inventing community social work, pro-active networking, asset based community development, social and community enterprises et al. Although I cannot find much evidence of these neighbour-hood-positive approaches in today’s social work practice. Less alone any real clues to over-coming the isolation, fragmentation and loneliness endemic within in our society….