Fifty blogs for fifty years from the Social Policy Association.

Our friends at Rightsnet have drawn our attention to the web site of the Social Policy Association, which we have now of course added as a link on this site.

2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the SPA. To celebrate the milestone they commissioned 50 blogs from leading experts in the field. and have been releasing them on a weekly basis.

“Social policy matters. Rigorous, independent, robust study of it matters, as does teaching the next generation to be more policy-literate. At 50 the SPA is as important to all of these as ever, helping to develop, integrate and safeguard the subject and its members and contribute to better social policies.” (50 words to mark 50 years, Adrian Sinfield)

Commissioned from experts in the field to celebrate 50 years of the Association’s work, here are a few of particular relevance to benefits policy. We have added as many as we could as the navigation on the site leaves something to be desired (“ducks”). There’s 24 more to go as (only) 26 have been published so far.

No.3: Why the two-child policy is the worst social security policy ever. (by Jonathan Bradshaw)

No 5: Where do we go from here? Fifty years on from the ‘War on Poverty’ (by Stephen Crossley)

No 8: Universal Credit: A benefits system to increase debt. (by Steve Iafrati)

No 10: Where next for foodbank use? (by Kayleigh Garthwaite)

No 15: Universal Credit, means-testing and social security. (by Jane Millar)

No 21: 50 years of poverty studies: how our ideas of poverty have changed. (by Paul Spicker)

No 24: Social insecurity: a new consensus is needed to return security to the system. (by Sarah Batty)

No 26: Personal Independence Payment – a fair deal for people with mental health problems? (by Richard Machin)

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Robot foodbanks – coming to Manchester soon!

GMWRAG was fascinated to come across “Action Hunger” via a colleague posting on Rightsnet. It’s worth quoting verbatim from their mission statement.

“Action Hunger is committed to alleviating poverty and hardship amongst the homeless. We install vending machines that provide free food and clothing in key locations of cities across the United Kingdom — and beyond.

The machines dispense water, fresh fruit, energy bars, crisps, chocolate, and sandwiches, as well as socks, sanitary towels, antibacterial lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste combination packs, and books. A considerable amount of the food we vend is received from redistribution organisations that seek to reduce food waste.

Use of the machines is exclusively permitted to those in need, and items can only be vended with the use of a special key card, which our partner organisations in each locality give to our users.

At the most elementary level, Action Hunger’s machines provide access for the most vulnerable in our society to satiate the most basic of needs — that of sustenance.”

They also say

“We’re growing across the U.K. and wider Europe. If you know of a suitable location for installation of a machine — particularly in London, Birmingham, or Brighton — please send us an email at hello@actionhunger.org. Prospective sites must be accessible 24/7 and ideally well-lit, safe, and sheltered from inclement weather.

We’re also planning for two installations in New York, USA in February 2018, with Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle to follow. If you’re interested in supplying food or other items, or would like to help in another regard, please get in touch.”

A report on their Nottingham location makes for an interesting read.

GMWRAG notes that they are “Installing soon…” in Manchester and have an impressive list of supporters. We will contact them directly but wonder if any GMWRAG members know anything more about this interesting idea, albeit that we can’t help thinking that if you know of a location that is “… accessible 24/7… well-lit, safe… and sheltered from inclement weather” then you’ve probably just identified a location for homeless accommodation rather than a vending machine!

Nevertheless we shall watch this develop with genuine interest and feedback anything we learn.

One of the biggest reallocations of public resources in 25 years

GMWRAG is disturbed to note that in a week in which the government has decided too many people are getting PIP because they, er, need help, we are now faced with what The Guardian has called “one of the biggest reallocations of public resources in 25 years” with a proposal that has been mooted repeatedly in recent years finally coming out into the light. This would see responsibility for Attendance Allowance moving from the DWP to local authorities.

This has been mentioned previously in the interim report from the Commission on the future of health and social care in England but this has suddenly become a lot more real.

As we all know the general trend of closing down the DWP and privatising what it is left has not exactly worked well with either the Independent Living Fund or the rise in food banks as local welfare assistance schemes have fallen short.

GMWRAG therefore wanted to give members a heads up on what now looks like a full frontal assault on disability benefits. How long before the long awaited review of DLA for children?