Comment & Analysis
Respondents to our social media survey told us about their 58 most useful tools that they use at work or in community activities. Most of them are free, or elements are free. We have tried to organise these around what they are used most for. However some of them have more than one function or offer more than one service, and people use them in different ways.
Urban Forum has published a new report – How Are We Using Online Tools And Social Networking – following its recent survey into how people in the community sector are using online tools and social networking sites. The report examines what we found out - some things we expected and some that we didn't, and what we think this means we should do.
14 Bills and 4 draft Bills represents a fairly modest legislative agenda - at least in terms of the amount of legislation being brought forward. But if it represents a real change from the previous government's belief that legislation is the answer to everything, then that's progress.
Since we've got used to successive government's briefing the press of their plans in advance of occasions like the Budget and the Queen's Speech, we shouldn't be surprised that most of the content was expected. There was a time when briefing the press in advance of presenting in Parliament was considered a serious breach of protocol. In 1947 the Chancellor, Hugh Dalton, resigned after telling a journalist what was in the Budget before he gave his Statement to Parliament.
Read our assessment of the Budget and how it affects voluntary and community groups.
Don't be fooled by the scraps from the table, the real damage is already done says Urban Forum Chief Executive, Toby Blume:
Right up to the last, the content of the localism Bill arrived before the Bill was actually published...we had a written ministerial statement, an oral statement, an essential guide and a media briefing note in advance of the Bill finally being published. And the second part of the bill - all 247 pages of it - was only published today. There were therefore unsurprisingly few surprises in it.
The Big Society programme has polarised debate, with opinion divided between those who regard it as an ambitious plan to radically transform social policy and others who see it as a cynical attempt to plug the gaps in public service as public spending is withdrawn. This paper aims to provide a measured and constructive response to the programme that recognises its current strengths and weaknesses and brings a community sector perspective to the debate.
Is it better to nudge or think?I attended a really interesting seminar recently, where Manchester and Southampton Universities presented the findings from research experiments they've been conducting looking at whether ‘nudges' and deliberation can be used to increase civic behaviour. I joined panellists RSA Chief Exec Matthew Taylor and ResPublica's Phillip Blond to offer some thoughts on the research findings and what the implications were for public bodies and voluntary and community groups. Here's what I had to say....
Read our assessment of how the Budget will affect the poorest in society.
Read our analysis of the Post Office banking proposals.
Given a distinct lack of wriggle-room given the state of the public finance, the budget probably offered more for the third sector than we might have reasonably expected.
As ever with these things, the devil is in the detail and most of the measures that should be good news for civil society, could soon turn to dust with poor management. However that was always going to be the case and the alternative would have been fewer announcements that at least have real potential to be good!