Following on from yesterday’s blog, we continue our look back at some of our favourite posts of the year and how they reflect key concerns within public and social policy …
House prices continued to rise
No political party properly grasped the nettle that is the UK’s worsening housing shortage. The garden city plans are long-term, and there is no indication that they will actually reduce demand to the extent that housing will become more affordable. Existing and proposed government schemes (such as the Starter Home initiative announced last week) have been criticised for assisting individuals while failing to tackle systemic failures in the approach to ensuring availability of social housing and affordable housing.
Town centres became the focus of regeneration efforts
A shift in rhetoric around regeneration has moved the focus in recent years from supporting communities and tackling social deprivation, to regeneration aimed at growing local economies. A key focus in 2014 was the state of town centres. Planning and economic policies continued to try to halt falling numbers of businesses and visitors. Meanwhile councils and retailers tried to get their heads around the potential of new technologies, with high-level groups such as the Digital High Street Advisory Board launching.
Cities became smarter even if citizens didn’t
The smart city revolution continued, with both Glasgow’s Future Cities Demonstrator and London’s Future Cities Catapult bringing businesses, local government and academia together. The potential of technology and data to transform infrastructure and planning in urban areas took off in a big way in 2014 but many argue that the public don’t really understand the privacy implications. And with over 20% of the UK population estimated to still lack the basic digital skills to use the internet, will the benefits of technology be shared equally?
The Knowledge Exchange celebrated its 40th birthday
2014 marked 40 years of our membership service supporting policymakers and practitioners. Over this period we’ve gone from photocopying and posting research bulletins to members, to delivering 21st century knowledge and intelligence services.
At the end of December we held an event to review the state of the evidence landscape in the UK and explore the future. What was clear is that there continues to be a huge appetite for expert insight. In the next year we’ll increase the value we provide our members through briefings, as well as work with key partners to open up our service to even more people.