For all that is exciting about all these developments, the ‘regeneration’ many speakers described had a very 1980s feel – the physical regeneration of city centre spaces that are derelict or under-utilised, making way for commercial use and middle- to high-end housing.
June 2014 - NewStart
Renewed action on local initiatives, diverse economies and decentralisation is heartening to see. Learning from experience and realistic engagement with its challenges alongside its potential are critical.
As a council we are in a unique position to break the banking mould and can deploy a mix of resources, experience and relationships built up over time in bringing this forward successfully.
As London’s east end undergoes significant gentrification, a co-operative is helping embed community ownership, ensuring locals aren’t priced out of their homes and businesses. Dominic Ellison explains
We’re currently exploring an asset-based approach. Rather than the usual agencies dictating to people, we think it works better to build on the ideas, skills and enthusiasm communities and individuals already have. We will build from the bottom up, rather than following a top-down approach.
I believe he is right, and I am beginning to sense a new mood here too. At the moment it is just a public distaste for greed (the treatment of Gary Barlow, for example), and a growing understanding that the banking system is no longer designed for most of us – but this is yet to translate itself into a clear political direction.
Piketty is right to argue for diffusion of knowledge and skills as a key enabler of growth and the reduction of economic inequalities. The new Niace manifesto sets out a range of ways we can make this happen for the benefit of the UK’s economic future.
Where there are problems with Leps, government should do no more than help local partners to fix those problems for themselves, coming up with local solutions, creating a market place of ideas. These fixes would hold faster than the enforced outcome of a top-down reorganisation.
This is my model for public services: incredibly simple front end ideas behind which all of the complexity has been sorted out by customer-focused commissioners. If we could realise this ambition, then we might suddenly find that we don’t need stigmatising labels like ‘complex needs’ any more.
Complex social problems and systems unfit for purpose cannot be pulled into the future from the treasury downwards. New public management (NPM) is apparently dead (though showing worrying signs of rigor mortis), so we need new variations on system change that have participation and engagement at their heart.