Blog - 11th May 2023

May 11th 2023, 13:57

Blog - 11th May 2023

In this blog I consider: Local Elections; the ‘Horizon’ and ‘Pioneer’ scientific research programmes; the ‘Changing Futures’ programme that helps people with multiple disadvantages; Newsletters, Briefing Papers and Webinars.

Local Elections

 Kirkby Stephen

Local elections were held last week, including elections for the Kirkby Stephen Town Council in Cumbria. I was one of the successful candidates. I am very grateful to all those who voted for me and am looking forward to being a Kirkby Stephen Town Councillor. It will certainly give me another perspective on local government and public services. It may even give me some subjects to discuss in this blog!

Scientific Research

Everyone is agreed that low productivity is holding back economic growth in Britain. Everyone is also agreed that scientific research is essential if productivity is to be increased. So, why is the government going out of its way to weaken scientific research in Britain?

Until 2021, Britain participated in the European Union’s ‘Horizon’ scheme that facilitates scientific research and co-operation in European Union states and associated countries. Even though Britain has left the European Union there is no need to leave the Horizon scheme, but the government took Britain out of the scheme in 2021, and since then has been dithering over whether to re-join Horizon or to think of something else.

The government’s alternative plan is called ‘Pioneer’. This was launched last month and its stated aim is ‘to strengthen the UK’s position as a science and technology superpower’. However, this approach reflects the political values of the government’s core supporters rather than an awareness of how scientific research works. In the modern world, scientific progress is achieved through international co-operation, not through jingoism. ‘Pioneer’ has been widely criticised because it offers insufficient international collaboration, especially on climate change and environmental sustainability.

‘Pioneer’ also lacks the economies of scale that are available to ‘Horizon’. The government proposes a budget of £14.6billion ($18.2billion) for ‘Pioneer’ until 2027, whereas ‘Horizon’ has a budget of €95.5billion ($105billion). This enables organisations that participate in ‘Horizon’ to participate in larger schemes than would be available to those that participate in ‘Pioneer’. Also, unlike Horizon funding, the Pioneer sums are not guaranteed — they will go through regular government ‘spending reviews’ and may therefore be reduced at a later date.

‘Horizon’ is designed to strengthen co-operative bonds between countries, advance knowledge and innovation, and harness the power of a collective approach to solve global challenges. Horizon Europe’s priorities include boosting competitiveness and growth, creating jobs, tackling climate change and helping to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The ‘Pioneer’ proposal mentions some, but not all, of the above. ‘Horizon’ is an opportunity for Britain to stay in an influential, globally connected research programme with sustainable development at its heart. Those connections between people and institutions are not just priceless, but essential to progress in research.

Britain is decoupling from several European and global institutions and standards. British students could have had continued access to the Erasmus student-exchange scheme after Brexit, but the government chose to end British membership. Last year, the government also ended the Global Challenges Research Fund, a five-year, £225-million funding scheme in which British researchers collaborated with scientists in low- and middle-income countries on projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals.

For these reasons, ‘Pioneer’ has not received an enthusiastic welcome from Britain’ scientific community Their near unanimous view is that anything less than full membership of Horizon Europe would be an inferior outcome. I hope that the British government will see sense, drop ‘Pioneer’ and re-join ‘Horizon’.

Changing Futures

Changing Futures is a three year, £64 million programme aiming to improve outcomes for adults experiencing multiple disadvantage – including combinations of homelessness, substance misuse, mental health issues, domestic abuse and contact with the criminal justice system.   

The programme is funded through £46million from the government’s Shared Outcomes Fund with almost £18million in aligned funding from The National Lottery Community Fund - the largest funder of community activity in Britain.

Working with fifteen local partnerships across England, Changing Futures is testing new ways of bringing together public and community sector partners to help people change their lives for the better.

The programme was announced in 2020, began work in local areas in July 2021 and will continue until the end of March 2024. It aims to deliver improvements at the individual, service and system level to:  

  • Stabilise and then improve the life situation of adults who face multiple disadvantage  
  • Transform local services to provide a person-centred approach and to reduce crisis demand. 
  • Test a different approach to funding, accountability and engagement between local commissioners and services, and between central government and local areas. 

 The Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough

Fifteen areas have made successful bids for a Changing Futures scheme. These include the South Tees Changing Futures programme that is a joint initiative by Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland Councils to enable all local organisations to work in partnership to better support those who experience multiple disadvantages.

To view or download the South Tees Changing Futures Leaflet, please click here.

Newsletters, Briefing Papers and Webinars

I have just published the May edition of the ‘Public Services News’. This edition features articles on:

  • Barnet Borough Council and the Easy Council Model
  • Local Government Finance in England
  • Adult Social Care
  • Unpaid Carers
  • The Crisis in NHS Dentistry
  • The Welfare System in Britain
  • Street Lights and Footway Lights
  • Museums and Heritage Centres
  • European Court of Human Rights

To view or download your FREE copy, please click here.

I have also published a new briefing paper on: ‘Street Lights and Footway Lights’. To view or download your FREE copy, please click here.

My next webinar will be on ‘How to Register a New Registered Provider (Housing Association)’. It will be held on 20th July 2023. For further information or to register, please click here.

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