There were an awful lot of people hoping that Iain Duncan Smith would be defenestrated in last week’s cabinet shuffle. If Michael Gove is considered so toxic that he had to be removed before the next election, how on earth did IDS escape with his career intact? There cannot be another politician so loathed, except perhaps his sidekick Esther McVey.
I suppose the answer lies in who Gove alienates. The Tories are chasing the votes of those interested in education, be they parents or professionals and that adds up to a whole lot of people potentially turned off him. However, they don’t expect votes from the recipients of social security, rendering them useless, thus there was no electoral gain in sacking IDS.
A frustrating point has been reached in public service reform. We’ve finally grasped the importance of early intervention and prevention precisely at the point when we seem least able to afford it.
Of course, this poor timing isn’t coincidental. Financial constriction has brought into stark relief how eye-wateringly expensive crisis services are to run. Yet the growing and eager consensus that we should manage demand for the hard end of the system feels as belated as the regretful hangover. We seem only capable of wisdom after the event.
Last week, business secretary Vince Cable hosted a ceremony celebrating 3,000 businesses launched with the support of Outset, our enterprise creation and support service.
That we’ve achieved this milestone in a just over four years – working exclusively in deprived areas such as inner city wards, isolated rural and rundown coastal communities – is a testament to the effectiveness of our proven methodology.
The need to reduce financial exclusion has been identified as a priority by people in Big Local areas.
Local Trust delivers the Big Local programme with an investment of over £200m from the Big Lottery Fund. Big Local is happening in 150 communities across England over the next 15 years. It provides residents in each community with at least £1m and a range of other support and funding to develop ways of making their areas even better places to live.
Scotland is having a humdinger of a debate about its future. From the 16-year-old in Lerwick to the octogenerian in Stranraer, come September 18th a huge decision is going to be made. Let’s be not be under any illusions, come what may – yes or no – the result will have significant consequences for England and the future of Westminster.
Imagine a yes vote. If so, late this year, negotiations on how UK assets and liabilities are to be apportioned out between Holyrood and the Westminster will begin. This will be protracted and fraught. We should expect daily headlines, with opinions on what England is winning and what it might be losing. As an emerging settlement takes shape, many in the rest of the UK are likely to start questioning what this will mean in the future for Westminster and England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Whether we examine the highly collaborative forms of the new digital economy, the more than 500 major ‘collective impact‘ programmes across whole cities or states in the US (each offering a decade long commitment from hundreds of organisations of all sectors to work together), or the efforts across Africa to redesign market systems to better support the ‘bottom billion’, there are the same clues of a fundamental change in approach.
It’s promising that national political parties are now in some agreement. It’s agreed that local economic growth is best served when it comes with some power over local resources. It’s agreed that some decisions about transport, skills etc are best made by town halls and combinations of local authorities, working with businesses and Leps rather than Whitehall departments.
To improve outcomes we need to give communities and individuals more control of their own wellbeing, in a way that means disadvantaged communities are not left behind.