Thursday, 1 September 2011

State of the Nation: Mike Beckett's thoughts on Economics, Public Policy and Social Policy going forward

An informal discussion document - Sept 2011

As things change the Big Society seems to be the answer to all our social ills and to fill all the gaps. I think this is an extension of what the voluntary and community sector has been doing for years. However while in my opinion there is enough volunteers available, the management of the volunteers requires funding and with the contractions in funding I foresee more charity mergers and contrary to the localism ideals I see local autonomy increasing moving towards larger structures with substantial funding and away from small purpose built indigenous and culturally sensitive solutions, I certainly hope I am wrong on this. I do hope enough power is delegated, low enough to ensure local services delivery is as locally required! 

I hope that this is not the future we have before us but this is the trends I see. Volunteers are the lifeblood of our voluntary sector but I can see the role of volunteers being increasingly regulated as I can see a return of National Service with a twist not specifically in the armed forces but to provide extended apprenticeships in the Community and Voluntary Sector as well as Government Services, these low paid positions would be more constructive than the dole, will instil a work ethic and perhaps inspire those who are able to go on to better things.

I also think as revenue raising will become increasing an issue that will focus peoples minds of all political persuasions. Therefore I can see the idea of a higher taxation for those who have not meaningfully contributed to society in some way such as completing the afore mentioned National Service. With the rewards of full citizenship offered like the Roman citizenship to those who have done the time in National Service. I see this as the likely popular political answer to the question, how do we prevent the recent riots from happening again? and instil a feeling of engagement and that we are all in this together in the disaffected and the migrants? By making people work, with low paid make work and for those happy to remain there will do so and for those who want more the opportunity to rise over time. 

I suspect the age for receipt of Pension payments (Pension Credit and the State Pension) will continue to be put back and I foresee that they will be increasing pressure to make the books balance and delayed gratification (of the luxury of retirement, as I suspect this will be seen to be) is an obvious way to achieve this. I suspect that 80 by 2050 may not be unrealistic, this is pure speculation. 

I hope that enterprise might be stimulated by the removal of income tax on people first £10k of earning encouraging people to employ locally rather than factor out work and this in turn could reduce the weight of unemployment benefit on the public purse, while increasing economic activity and of course the Treasury benefits through indirect taxation. I think this is a good idea due to the multiplier effect and that it is better to have people employed and active than inactive or worse negatively active in the shadow economy. Without positive opportunities those who are socially excluded find little opportunities are all too often easy prey to drug dealers and criminals who are often eager to increase their reach and influence.

These are some of my current economic public policy musings, this is meant as a commentary of trends and not an endorsement of any particular policies unless specified. You may also be interested in my business blog, Mike Beckett is caring for business and taking no liberties... 


Cllr Michael Beckett BA(Hons) MIoD CertIoD

PS. Constructive feedback appreciated!


  1. thank you Michael. that was a wonderful and insightful blog. i agree with you on the issues.
    sincerely Laura Novak