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New report proposes common sense policy solutions to key problems in British life

19th June 2024

Researchers from Northumbria University have led the creation of a blueprint for policy reform which aims to bring an end to poverty and inequality in Britain.

Caption: Act Now is being published by Manchester University Press.With the General Election just weeks away, Professor Matthew Johnson and his public policy research team are preparing for the publication of a research-informed report that outlines clear policies for the transformation of welfare provision, health and social care, education, housing and transport services, among other issues.

Just as the report published by social economist Sir William Beveridge in 1942 provided a recovery plan for post-war Britain, those involved in the research believe the reforms proposed are capable of bringing an end to the current era of austerity and cost of living crisis while addressing the appetite for change among the public.

To develop Act Now: A vision for a better future and a new social contract, Northumbria researchers have joined forces with fellow academics, policymakers, third sector leaders, community representatives and people with lived experience. These include Danny Dorling, Professor of Human Geography from the University of Oxford, Kate Pickett, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of York and Jennifer Nadel, Co-Director of the UK think tank, Compassion in Politics. All are committed to creating a fair, equal and inclusive Britain through developing and influencing redistributive policy.

Despite their different backgrounds and political perspectives, together they have created Act Now as a new collective they have named the Common Sense Policy Group. Their work will be published as a book by Manchester University Press later this month.

Caption: Professor Matthew Johnson.Professor Matthew Johnson, Chair of the Common Sense Policy Group, said: “The findings of our research are just as compelling as those of the Beveridge Report 80 years ago – we can solve our structural crises through evidence-based policies that are highly popular and that can create a better, wealthier future quickly.

Act Now sets out a feasible, affordable and popular programme to deliver the security we all need that gives us a future worth working for.”

Policy proposals featured in Act Now include:

  • A basic income for all is the key distributive means of securing a society that makes the rest of a new social contract possible, including by reducing pressure on health care and disruption caused by transition to net zero.
  • A properly funded green new deal and nationalisation of energy and water are essential to producing national wealth and independence.
  • Health and social care can only be cost-effective when nationally owned and operated.
  • Early years and educational investments are critical to reducing pressure on the criminal justice system and increasing productivity to support the transition to a new economy.
  • Build to navigate through the housing crisis while gradually removing the state-led transfer of wealth to private landlords and speculators in the process.
  • Infrastructure can be transformed through targeted, regional control of transport.
  • Democratic reform to control lobbying and corruption is in the interests of progressive parties.
  • Fund an expansive programme of change through wealth, carbon and corporation taxes, increasing the tax base, yield and productivity sufficiently to create a Britain that leads the world in quality of life, equality and security within 10 years.

Jennifer Nadel, Co-Director of Compassion in Politics and member of the Common Sense Policy Group, said: “We are at a dangerous moment in history and it is time for a radical reset. We cannot solve the complex problems we face without solutions that are bold, compassionate and inclusive. Hunger and destitution must have no place in a modern Britain and Act Now lays out a clear set of policies for both reforming how we do politics and ensuring that its outcomes provide for all.” 

In the book’s foreword former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, writes: “The proposals in this book are detailed and pragmatic, set out with careful attention to how they might be implemented and how they might be funded. These chapters are not an idealistic rant demanding some sort of total recalibration of how we live. But they are unmistakeably radical, in the sense that they interrogate what the political establishment of both left and right take for granted, what they think is achievable and acceptable.”

Discover more information on Act Now, released on Tuesday 25 June, and watch a video about the book from members of the Common Sense Policy Group here.

Two free launch events are planned to mark the publication of Act Now, with talks from members of the author team planned for each event:

  • Thursday 27 June, 3pm-5pm, Northumbria University London Campus, Middlesex Street, London. The London event is invitation only.  Register here to join the event online via Microsoft Teams webinar.
  • Friday 12 July, 3pm-5pm in Lecture Theatre 001, Business and Law building, City Campus East, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 1UY. Click here to register to attend the in-person event in Newcastle.
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