One of the things I’d like to see, in order to release the necessary capital to support a greater focus on prevention, is more widespread adoption of creative approaches to making capital work better for productive purpose - social investment.
Toby Blume, Author at NewStart
News this week that the seven largest banks and building societies have agreed to publish information about their lending is very welcome. The voluntary arrangement will see banks publishing quarterly figures on loans and overdrafts to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), mortgage lending and unsecured personal loans by postcode. This is a hugely important first step towards reforming our financial services into a more responsible and properly functioning sector.
I am leaving the organisation in good hands with a fantastic staff team, a committed board of trustees and an astounding group of members. It will not be easy, we know that, but I hope the organisation will respond to the challenges it faces with resilience, creativity and positivity as has been the case throughout the time I have been there.
The small donations bill will allow charities to claim up to £1,250 on donations a year, where individual donations are less than £20. Of course that amount can make a difference to the lives of people in need and for charities that operate on a shoestring. But it is peanuts compared with the impact on the sector of the cap on tax relief for charitable donations.
Perhaps spending £400m on building the market for social investment is a good idea. But we don’t need to blithely accept that this is the only way this money could be used. It could have been used to support the thousands (hundreds of thousdands?) of charities and community groups that have seen their funding cut as a result of spending cuts.
Toby Blume catches his breath after a year of new ideas and predicts 2012 will be one of action for all those involved in civil society
Participatory Budgeting is a fantastic antidote to the constant trickle of consultation over policy matters that have little relevance to people’s lives. It’s real, practical and meaningful. It gives people a say without requiring them to take over a service just to have a say over how it’s delivered.
The decision to offer local authorities cash to freeze council tax, a continuation of arrangements for the current year (2011-12) has been presented as evidence that 'this government is absolutely committed to helping people through these times'. Putting to one side the fact that this will save the average person just £72, there is at least some evidence to suggest that the ‘help’ offered to citizens will actually be negligible.
Something needs to be done to address the current imbalance in favour of economic development over other needs. If not the true future costs are likely to greatly outweigh the short-term benefits as we are forced to meet the costs of growing inequality and environmental degradation.
Reclaiming our streets and rebuilding our communities is one (hugely) important part of our response to the riots. Another aspect of our response is to consider the moral, political and community leadership necessary to build bridges between those who feel so disconnected from society.