The Growth Deceit
It is now routine for commercial interests to base their case to the public on the number of jobs it will create or how much it will boost the economy. These claims are almost always accepted at face value by politicians and decision-makers, but they are in fact often based on the flimsiest, most partial and sometimes intentionally misleading use of data. Few people are able to properly interrogate these claims to see if they hold up. In Spring 2012 the Jimmy Reid Foundation will publish a guide to how to interrogate and evaluate these claims and will make arguments about how economic and planning decisions should actually be made.
If you have any expertise or interest in economic modelling, I/O tables or related activity and would like to contribute, contact us HERE.
Local Government – Restoring Democracy
Scotland’s local authorities are big and distant from their electors. In comparison to most of our neighbours there is a clear democratic deficit in local politics. We have very few tiers of democracy and this means that decisions tend not to be taken close to the communities and neighbourhoods they affect. There has also been a process of leaching powers and responsibilities away from local government, either upwards to central government or outwards to undemocratic agencies or private companies. This is seriously damaging the decision-making process and is alienating communities. In the run-up to the local authority elections the Jimmy Reid Foundation will publish a report on reform of local democracy in Scotland.
If you have views on how this should be done, on the appropriate tiers of democracy or on roles and responsibilities, contact us HERE.
Reforming University Governance
Universities are crucial to Scotland’s future but they have increasingly become closed institutions run by a small team of senior managers and with decreasing levels of real scrutiny and accountability internally or externally. At the same time, there is clear evidence that these management regimes are beginning to interfere with the academic work of their employees on commercial and ‘reputational’ grounds. But because little of this is understood, the drift for universities to be less and less democratic progresses unchecked. In Spring 2012 the Jimmy Reid Foundation will publish a report detailing how universities must be ‘re-democratised’ if they are to play their crucial role in Scotland’s future.
If you are an employee or a student of a Scottish university and would like to tell us about your experience of how management is operating in your university, get in touch HERE.
A Tax Strategy for Scotland
Up until now the debate about tax in Scotland has been reduced to a question of ‘a penny off here, a penny off there’. The case for greater tax powers for Scotland simply hasn’t been supported by any detailed consideration of what Scotland might actually do with these powers to try and achieve a better and fairer nation. The Foundation is beginning work to consider what a tax strategy for Scotland might look like.
Planning for Our Future
The planning system in Scotland has been seen as a tool of purely economic importance and has been under assault from commercial interests who want the system to offer the minimum resistance to any profit-making activity. But planning is a crucial function for maintaining our immediate environment and protecting our communities. It is not simply an issue for business and should therefore be open to proper democratic engagement. The Foundation is beginning work on how to reform the planning system in Scotland.
If you have any views or expertise on this subject, get in touch HERE.
Poverty: No Excuses
The issue of poverty is regularly raised by politicians in Scotland as a matter of the upmost importance. And yet there is little evidence that concerted action is being taken to really tackled the problem, which seems often to be viewed as intractable or impossible to address. This is not true. There are a wide range of actions which can be taken and which if taken together and in a coordinated way could begin to really transform the problem. The Foundation is beginning work to pull together a list of actions in the many fields which are necessary to address this issue, with the aim of showing that there is no excuse for writing the problem off as ‘too big’.
If you are involved with any aspect of the poverty agenda and would like to suggest what key actions in your areas should be included in the report, get in contact HERE.
Pensions – the nightmare scenario
There is an unprecedented assault on the provision of pensions across the UK. This is almost all based on modelling and costing of the price of providing a fair pension. But what happens if people don’t have a fair pensions? What happens if you model the society that we will be left with if poverty among the retired is endemic and society is unable to pick up the pieces? The Jimmy Reid Foundation is beginnign a piece of modelling work to assess what this would mean for the future of Scotland.
If you have expertise in the field of pensions and would like to help, contact us HERE.
Outsourcing – value for who?
The many ways in which public responsibilities are now outsourced are complex and difficult to fully understand. From consultants who make our decisions for us to schemes for building our infrastructure and businesses which then provide our services for us, we are told to look away and accept that these simple must be saving us money because they are in the private sector. The assumption that there is no other way to organise a public sector has become a dogma of UK politics. But why? Is there really any evidence that this is in our interests? And why is there no discussion of alternatives? The Jimmy Reid Foundation is beginning a project to look at the relationship between government and the private sector and to suggest alternative models.
If you would like to get involve with this work, contact us HERE.