Scaling up successful interventions absorbs time and energy – and money – we can ill afford. Is there a way of making social and public policy more efficient as well as more effective?” In the second extract from Working for Equality Helen Chambers urges a different, more effective approach to policy.
In 2015 Professor Richard Freeman from the Academy of Government at Edinburgh Uni convened a group to discuss inequality. In 2017, after much further debate, all 22 participants contributed to a Postcards from Scotland book called Working for Equality: Policy, politics, people edited by Richard Freeman, Fiona McHardy and Danny Murphy. In the first of three extracts Philip Cooke reflects on the vital role of respect.
“It’s not an English problem any more than it’s a Scottish one, it’s a problem for us all.” Alan Milburn’s research report The Elite of Scotland revealed some uncomfortable facts of life in a nation that prides itself on fairness.
‘Under the Scottish Government’s proposed income tax policy, everyone earning under £33k will pay less tax in 2018/19 than they did this year (2017/18). BUT part of this is due to the increase in Personal Allowance, which would have happened anyway, i.e. irrespective of any announcement made by Mr Mackay today.’
‘I worry also about nest-egg building by those from high incomes, as a new form of hidden advantage, because of the low interest rate on student loans here. We could apply higher interest to loans to those from better-off households (but we won’t)….’
‘… the challenge remains for Derek Mackay as to how best to balance his resource budget with major commitments like additional support for the NHS, more money for childcare and public sector pay uplifts all to be paid for.’
‘Having failed to resolve these differences prior to the Act, as well as a myriad of other problems, the realities of integration are now coming to the fore, while the baton has passed to the SPA. Charged with providing assurance and oversight, the Authority has some exceptionally hard decisions ahead on what is a fiendishly complex project, against a backdrop of rising demand on police services and increasing cost pressure.’
Wonk of the year Lucy: ‘The signs are that the wrong people are being made to pay for current higher education policy in Scotland, in skewed debt or lost support, restricted opportunities and squeezed funding overall. As far as I can recall, no-one in Scottish university senior management has ever argued with me about this in public, nor got in touch to tell me privately that they disagree’.
The upcoming budget debate is an important opportunity for policymakers from all sides to set out what they would do, yes on taxation, but also on expenditure and growth. The new income tax powers provide some measure of relief, but it’s far from the only game in town’.
‘With only eighteen months until integration, the fact that the status of BTP Scotland officers transferring to Police Scotland remains unresolved should ring further loud alarm bells…At this stage in the process, I’d argue that the Scottish Government would do well to take stock and decide what price it is prepared to put on this merger’.