It was budget week.

A residential street in Newham with the ArcelorMittal Orbit in the background.
Photo Bloomberg via The Guardian.

Budget

I didn’t really do a deep dive into the budget, but I was struck by two things.

Firstly, there was the usual complaints from campaigners who searched the text to discover that their issue was not mentioned. While I typically ignore those sort of comments, hearing about the limited reference to children and climate made the budget feel very short term.

I also saw short-termism in the things that were more positive for Renaisi:

  • The social investment tax relief (SITR) was extended
  • A new £150 million Community Ownership Fund was launched
  • Furlough was extended

While I am glad they have happened, they are all needed, each has the hint of just about dealing with the issues in front of our face.

What about long term accessibility for funding for more marginalised groups and communities?

What about how furlough connects to Restart?

We know from our recent customer survey, that length of unemployment is listed as the first barrier to finding new work. For those who have been on furlough for  a long time, and then do drop out of the labour market, do we have the support in place for them, especially when there are going to be so many looking for work?

And what does all of this mean for groups and individuals who are already struggling with exclusion from the labour market?

When you combine those points with the ongoing mistrust and underfunding of local government, it’s difficult to see much of a strategic approach to our economy and society in this budget. I could understand that in the first few months of the pandemic, but it just doesn’t feel good enough now.

Writing

I’ve been writing reports and bids this week. I spent a lot of time on one in particular that I am working on with multiple authors, most of whom are outside Renaisi. It’s hard doing that, but working with colleagues with a generous and collaborative spirit like Jo Blundell of Future Public makes it a heck of a lot easier.

Reading, listening and watching

The piece about the pandemic in Newham in the FT, referenced in this Tweet (below) is amazingly good and worth your time. It highlights so much of what has happened in communities. But I wanted to link to the Tweet because I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment.

Like Laura, I grew up in a part of the North with not much in the way of jobs, and the combination of that and my experience of London makes me so angry about all of it. So angry that the real impact of this economy on people’s lives is reduced to facile slogans like ‘Levelling Up’ which don’t address the fundamental issues anywhere.

John Hitchin CEO