Blog: March 2018
For decades, private sector firms have been aware of the benefits they can derive by investing in the management of their employees. Incentivising employees through individual and group performance pay allows firms to attract the best talent and increases worker effort. Fostering employee ‘ownership’ of the production process through team-working, initially pushed by Japanese manufacturing firms like Toyota, are now widely diffused across industries across the globe. But it is only relatively recently that providers of public services have thought to apply the same techniques in sectors such as education.
Like other public bodies, the UK government is required under the Public Sector Equality Duty to assess the impact of specific policies on ‘protected groups’ including by gender, age, race and disability. For the wide-ranging series of welfare reforms since 2010, this has been done largely through equality impact assessments, introduced in the 2010 Equality Act. As one of the authors of this week’s NIESR report on the equality impacts of recent welfare reforms, in this post I will reflect on the role and quality of the government’s own impact assessments.
The period from 2010 to the present has been one of far-reaching change in the design and delivery of welfare and of welfare to work. This has included the replacement of six key benefits with Universal Credit (UC); the introduction of an intensified conditionality and the sanctioning regime, requiring claimants to meet certain conditions or face losing benefits; and changes to assessment and entitlement to incapacity and disability-related benefits.
NIESR research for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, published today, reviews evidence for the impact of the reforms on protected, equality groups. Covering more than 400 sources of research evidence, we found that some reforms, for example UC, have winners and losers. Others have no winners, for example the benefit cap, bedroom tax and sanctioning. The data also clearly showed that the most disadvantaged in British society have been hit hardest.
The heavy debt burden imposed on recent and current university students in England is frequently justified on the grounds that graduates derive many private benefits from their privileged higher education.
In light of new announcements expected from the Prime Minister today, heavily trailed as an attempt to place housing at the heart of the policy agenda once again, it is well worth looking at the role that the UK’s housing market plays in the macroeconomy.
On Sunday Italy will go to the polls, at the end of a bitter and at times violent election campaign dominated by the issue of immigration. Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers have frequently been the scapegoats of a society facing a prolonged period of economic discontent post financial crisis, with poor job opportunities especially for young people.
As we have seen in other European countries, an increased hostility to migrants was fed by public discourse, politicians’ statements and media representation.
Unlike the 2013 elections and the recent French elections, the outcome of the Italian elections due 4th March is hardly predictable, and that’s due to the fracture of the country into three main blocks, the centre-right coalition, the 5Star Movement, and the Centre-left coalition.
The most recent polls point to the centre-right coalition composed of Berlusconi’s backed Forza Italia, the League (previously known as the Northern League) and Brothers of Italy having roughly 37% of the support. With around 28%, the 5Star Movement currently stands as the biggest single party list. Finally, the centre-left coalition with an estimated 27% of the votes has seen a strong decline in support over the past years. The fragmentation of the country into three main blocks makes the formulation of the outcome highly challenging.