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.
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.
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.
Check back tomorrow for part 2 of our round up….