Talking Points: July 2018
by Rethinking Poverty
Child poverty is worsening
Child poverty is soaring, says NPC chief executive Dan Corry in a recent Guardian article. Resolution Foundation analysis suggests that child poverty has risen from 1.6 million in 2010 to 4.1 million in 2016-17. Corry’s basic argument: we do know how to address child poverty, but we will be successful in the long term only if we create ‘a coalition of charities, faith groups and concerned people … to highlight the issue’ and to ensure that changes are not reversed.
Some new perspectives on the economy. Or not so new?
Co-operatives Unleashed is the title of a new report from the New Economics Foundation. ‘For 40 years, the economy has been a one-way street, with wealth flowing upwards and outwards,’ explains NEF. ‘Co-ops are a key part of creating a different kind of business, and a different economy. Our new report sets out how we can double the size of the UK’s co-op sector.
Meanwhile economist Larry Elliott insists that Corbyn’s Build it in Britain plan isn’t radical either; ‘it’s what other countries do.’ It can be seen as a national-level version of what the local council is doing in Preston.
Finally, on the economy, visit the UBS Hub for ‘Three Big Economic Ideas for Revolutionizing Our Social Safety Nets’. This article by Mark Hay considers the pros and cons of three different options for 21st century welfare and social safety: negative income tax, jobs guarantee and universal basic services.
The power of the local …
The forgotten Salford suburb of Irlam has been transformed by ‘hyperlocal’ philanthropist Neil McArthur, founder of TalkTalk. But is it healthy for one man to own so much of a town asks Helen Pidd.
In Lancaster City in Lancaster County in south-central Pennsylvania, US, the approach was local but very different, according to a New York Times article called ‘Where American Politics Can Still Work: From the Bottom Up’. It was a partnership among the Hourglass Foundation, the mayor and local business and community leaders and politicians that ‘made downtown Lancaster not just somewhere people drove through on their way to boutique hotels in Amish country, but a destination of its own’. It has two secrets of success: it leaves ‘big P’ politics at the door and it works collaboratively rather than in silos.
… and what happens when you shut local people out
Primary schools are being turned over to academy trusts with no accountability, and against the wishes of those who know the children best. Aditya Chakrabortty describes how parents and teachers at Waltham Holy Cross primary in Essex are resisting a move to turn the school over to Net Academies, the ‘sixth-worst primary school group in England’.
Changing the narrative one story at a time
The beginning of July saw the launch of Project Twist-It, a new ‘anti-poverty multi-platform initiative aiming to shift the negative rhetoric around poverty in the UK and the US’. Supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the idea is to change the narrative around poverty through storytelling and ‘by working with artists and writers to elevate the voice of people with lived experience of poverty’.
How should we think about the current state of the world?
In June’s Talking Points we ended with Steven Pinker and his insistence that the world is getting steadily better. But is it? A recent article in the New Yorker by Joshua Rothman argues that ‘Pinker could be right in the short term but wrong in the long term. Maybe the world is getting better, but not better enough, or in the right ways.’ He quotes the late Hans Rosling, who argues that ‘the history of improvement is also the history of problem-discovery. … The spirit of progress is also the spirit of discontent.’ He writes of a new-born baby in an incubator: ‘Does saying “things are improving” imply that everything is fine, and we should all relax and not worry? No, not at all. Is it helpful to have to choose between bad and improving? Definitely not. It’s both. It’s both bad and better. Better, and bad, at the same time. . . . That is how we must think about the current state of the world.’
‘Talking Points’ is collated by Caroline Hartnell, who convenes the Rethinking Poverty blog.
Past ‘Talking Points’: