• What we pay and how we pay it determines the efficiency, effectiveness and social impact of our public services.

Work in Life

If employment programmes were judged by their effectiveness in moving people out of poverty, would it make a difference to the way they are designed and managed? Two-thirds of children living in poverty have parents who work. Millions have been spent on employment support programmes. Evaluations and analysis of their effectiveness assess their efficacy in … Continue reading

Insights from Within

In this special guest blog, we hear from Bill Wells in response to Richard’s recent piece on changing the way children’s services are commissioned. Bill Wells worked in DWP, BIS, and its labour market predecessors, for over 35 years. As a labour market economist he has a national and international reputation. During this time he had … Continue reading

Think of the children

When the state intervenes in the UK and takes a child into its care, it surely does so with all the best intentions. The intervention is instigated in response to and governed by strict rules on child welfare or ‘safeguarding’, made even tighter since the infamous, sad case of Baby Peter. It costs over £2.5 … Continue reading

Child Poverty: The United Kingdom Experience

On April 1, medical journal Academic Pediatrics published a special supplement examining child poverty in the US, where one in five children live below the federal poverty level (FPL) and nearly half of children are classified as poor or near poor. The supplement brings together articles from paediatric researchers, child advocates, social scientists, economists, and … Continue reading

Nine cheap warehouses

Michael Gove, Justice Secretary, has announced his intention to build nine new prisons. These will be much needed replacements for some of the old, crumbling prison estate. However, there are important questions to ask about financing and outsourcing. Lazy thinking on location must be challenged. Their long-term value will also depend on whether their purpose … Continue reading

Living in a Material World

Poverty is about money – or rather the lack of it. The reasons for, and results of, poverty can be many and myriad and, indeed, contestable, but the idea that the definition of poverty might be up for grabs is bizarre at best. Yet the decision by the UK government to move away from using … Continue reading

Dos and Don’ts from Down Under

In the late nineties, as Blair and co were rolling out the New Deals and experimenting with contestability at the edges of Jobcentre Plus, the Australians were outsourcing their Commonwealth Employment Service in its entirety. The two countries have watched each other closely ever since. With roughly similar welfare systems, we keep looking to the … Continue reading

Quality performance in refugee management???

The UK government will never accept an EU refugee quota. However, we have already seen how the public cry of horror at a drowning child can soften a political heart, and draw out a commitment to take more displaced people. This commitment includes targeting those with arguably the highest level of need, in camps closest … Continue reading

Against Fatalism

Can progressive policy be good politics? Last week the Centre for American Progress published a report, Creating Inclusive Prosperity, informally subtitled ‘Against Fatalism’. It is the culmination of a two-year long commission into the ‘defining issue of our generation’. That is that underwhelming growth, wage stagnation and increasing inequality is a toxic cocktail with profound … Continue reading

No worries mate! (As long as you don’t want to eat)

If people in the UK think the government aren’t tough enough on unemployed benefit claimants, they should look to Australia for ideas. But they should be very careful what they wish for. There is a virulent stream of political rhetoric in Australia, feeding and fed by public opinion, suggesting that benefit claimants are nothing but … Continue reading