This blog post was written by Dr Saffron Karlsen, (Associate Professor in Sociology, University of Bristol).
The evidence of ethnic inequalities in the number of COVID-related infections and deaths in the UK is compelling – yet discussions about how to address them remain somewhat simplistic. Dr Saffron Karlsen discusses five key issues that must be acknowledged if we are to establish a more complete picture of these inequalities and their drivers.
This blog post was written by Marilyn Howard, Honorary Research Associate at the Law School and doctoral student in the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol and Fran Bennett, Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford, and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Bath Institute for Policy Research (IPR).
On 9 March, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee and the Commons Work and Pensions Committee held a joint oral evidence session. The Committees wanted to question the Government about its responses to the reports they had both published recently (see: Economic Affairs Committee report and Commons Work and Pensions Committee report) about Universal Credit (UC). Such a joint session is unprecedented, to our knowledge.
The witnesses were Will Quince MP, Minister for Welfare Delivery, and Neil Couling, Senior Responsible Owner for UC in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). One question was about the potential for separate payments of UC to each partner in couples, to replace the single payment to one account that is currently the default arrangement. This had been favoured by witnesses giving evidence to the Economic Affairs Committee, including both academics and nongovernmental organisations (and including Rita Griffiths from the ESRC-funded Universal Credit and Couples research project based at the University of Bath). But the Government has reiterated that it is unnecessary to introduce such separate payments.
These issues have been raised previously and discussion of them tends to reflect ongoing confusion about how couples manage their money; who currently receives UC in couples; and the Scottish Government’s intention to introduce separate payments. In order to try to clarify these topics, we draw here on our joint article and on our engagement and writing as active members of the Women’s Budget Group, which has carried out gender analysis of UC since it was first mooted.
This blog post was written by Andrew Sturdy, Chair in Organisation and Management, University of Bristol and Ian Kirkpatrick, Chair in Management, University of York. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license, read the original article here.
The use of management consultants has grown enormously in recent years. In the UK, consultancy brings in around £10 billion a year in fees across the public and private sectors. And while not totally recession-proof, the numbers grew in the run-up to Brexit and then COVID-19. (Remember test and trace? Consultants played a major role.)
Consulting firms can provide advice and extra resources at short notice and can be very effective for the right task and client. But their use often brings controversy, especially when public money is at stake, over the value of outsourcing, for instance. This raises a number of questions. Does consultancy bring improvements such as increased efficiency? If not, how can we explain its huge growth?
In the NHS, there is a remarkable lack of clarity and transparency over how much consultancy is used and with what effects. This falls within broader concerns noted in a recent National Audit Office report on procurement across public services.
In our ongoing research on management consultancy in the NHS, we have started to address these issues.
Professor Rachel Murray (Professor of International Human Rights, University of Bristol Law School)
Jamie Evans (Senior Research Associate, Personal Finance Research Centre, School of Geographical Sciences)
Dr Tamsin Sharp (Visiting Research Associate, MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol)
The Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) and UKRI support policy fellowships and internships in government departments and branches of Parliament. These placements can provide a wide range of benefits, from enhancing knowledge and understanding of how parliament works, to helping expand networks and developing transferable skills. PolicyBristol has been working with three researchers from different career stages to support them to apply for these positions and during the lifetime of the posts. In this blog, these researchers share some of the highlights and benefits of undertaking these roles.
This blog post was written by Marilyn Howard, Honorary Research Associate and Doctoral student in the School of Policy Studies, University of Bristol
Couples living together are often assumed to share income and manage finances jointly. This assumption underpins means-tested benefits, which treat a couple as if they were one unit, so that one partner’s income and assets affects the couple’s overall benefit entitlement.
Summarising existing research into money management and control in a briefing for the Women’s Budget Group , Marilyn Howard from the University of Bristol, and Fran Bennett from the University of Oxford, use these insights to explore the implications for how social security benefits are designed and delivered.
Oral language skills are critical for learning, and they matter now more than ever
Capabilities such as vocabulary knowledge, narrative skills and active listening are foundational for young children’s learning. Developed both at home and in school, these capabilities are known as oral language. Oral language is essential for young children’s learning, in particularly their literacy development and their ability to access the curriculum.
Oral language skills have always mattered, but they matter now more than ever.
The Covid-19 pandemic has widened the already stubborn ‘language gap’, that is the difference between the language levels of children from poorer backgrounds vs their more affluent peers. Ofsted have raised concerns that children hit hardest are ‘regressing in basic skills and learning, including language, communication and oral fluency’1. Recent research found that 92 per cent of teachers think school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic have contributed to a widening of the ‘word gap’ and that 94 per cent found it challenging to support pupils’ vocabulary development while teaching remotely during the first national lockdown2.
This suggests that the inequalities facing children in our school system are being exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Pupils from poorer backgrounds have suffered the most and face a greater loss of learning as a result of school closures3.
The likely increase in the disadvantage gap highlights the importance of school-based, early language interventions. Support for oral language offers an important means by which we can address the injustices worsened by the pandemic.
Dr Helen Manchester, Reader in Digital Inequalities and Urban Futures in the School of Education, University of Bristol
Dr Ola Michalec, Research Associate in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Bristol
Professor Morag McDermont, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies at the Law School, University of Bristol
In this blog, three academics from the University of Bristol share their experiences of civic engagement in 2020, outlining their perspectives on what went well, barriers they faced and their hopes for the future.
The need for universities to interact and work alongside their local communities has been underlined more so than ever in 2020.
PolicyBristol asked three academics who have been engaging with the wider community in Bristol to outline their experiences and hopes for the future.
Dr Ola Michalec currently sits on the Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change (BACCC). This independent committee is made up of technical experts from industry, policymakers, and academics with expertise on climate change. Ola worked at the council before starting her research, so when BACCC was set up in 2019 she brought both policy and research experience.
Bristol City Fellowships is an innovative programme of fellowship opportunities for academics and practitioners working alongside communities at the margins, which aims to build inclusive cultures of collaboration in the city. It is a joint programme between the University of Bristol, Bristol City Office, and the Social Justice Project. Two of the fellows are Bristol academics – Dr Helen Manchester and Professor Morag McDermont.
Helen, Morag and Ola shared their perspectives with PolicyBristol who have coordinated their responses below.
UNESCO estimates that around 1.5 billion children were unable to attend school in the spring of 2020. Closed schools mean lost learning, lower skills and reduced life chances and wellbeing.
A strategy for closing this learning gap needs to be rapid, school-based rather than online, and provided in addition to regular school. Given the size of the learning gap, it requires significant investment. Most importantly, there must be evidence of its effectiveness.
The policy that best fits these criteria is small-group tutoring, based in schools. This is the focus of the UK government’s new flagship catch-up programme, available to state schools in England.
Written by Alexia MacDonald, PolicyBristol Associate Social Sciences and Law, Arts and Humanities.
Have you ever wondered who else might be interested in your research, other than your academic colleagues and students?!
The Register of All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) is an extensive list of groups consisting of parliamentarians who share interests, knowledge and expertise. APPGs cover a diverse range of subjects from artificial intelligence to wrestling, and from historic vehicles to youth employment – so there is probably at least one that overlaps with your research area.
Launch of the film – Putting UK Drug Policy into Focus
And discussion with:
Professor David Nutt – Imperial College London
Ann Fordham – International Drug Policy Consortium
Dr Magdalena Harris – London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Neil Woods – Law Enforcement Action Partnership
Dr Nuno Capaz – Lisbon Dissuasion Commission
Dr Prun Bijral – Change Grow Live
Followed by a Q&A
Chaired by Dr Adam Holland and Dr Emily Crick (University of Bristol)
5th November 2020
15:00 – 16:30 GMT
(16:00 – 17:30 CET)
Register for the free webinar here, along with the other online events of the European Harm Reduction conference