Tag Archives: government

The Big Society

27 Mar

A little departure from IPTV for the moment.

Having seen the demonstrations in London, having a family who is at the very centre of cuts and is feeling them daily, having my own business and trying to make a living as a small business, having all of this makes me think something is wrong, very wrong in our society today, morally bankrupt and possibly incapable of accepting this without a massive shift in thinking.

The big society is not such a bad idea, but the timing is pretty awful, so this now looks like a scheme to create public services on the cheap. The problem this government has is that we, the public, are distrustful and so we think the worst. In theory this sort of works but it has to be a BIG idea not just a few chosen words to the chosen few in the City of London.

I know people keep banging on about bonus culture, but that’s because they care. They care that people are struggling and the most well off continue on the tax payers gravy train. We keep going on about it, will someone finally realise that this won’t go away because you want it to, we keep going on about it because it drives a nail into the very heart the British sense of fair, this is not fair and cannot be justified. A minority of the country, in which we live, are still living in a post Thatcher era that welcomed greed and rewarded the ‘me’ culture,  everybody else has moved on, realised that our country was decimated by this, but still they continue with a ‘let them eat cake’ attitude. So why do marches and protest occur, go back and read the previous few lines.

So if we want a BIG society and if we REALLY want equality in opportunity then it has to be done in a manner that appeals to the unheard masses, to those who feel like they have no prospects, to the young adult who despite 100 letters still has no job, to the unemployed in the North East who feel all prospects are disappearing, to the likes of me who work really hard and receive little or no help. If you really want a big society then start doing and stop talking.

Lets start with dismantling big corporate outsourcing deals for local councils, schools, government etc. Lets make this much smaller units, answerable locally giving work to local business and people, who do actually care about the state of roads, schools and community. Do we really need a big multi-national repairing local roads, couldn’t local companies do this just as well, employing local people. Lets stop endorsing big companies who stifle innovation and remove any notion of competition, lets give local retailers incentives and big retailers diss-incentives for local stores, make buying retail property and land-banking it illegal, use it or lose it, a kind of Statutory of Road for retail. Re-invigorate our high streets with local shops selling local produce, not big faceless companies selling the same junk that no one knows what is in it. Lets reward those that do volunteer work with something that is not just a pat on the back.

All of this goes back to a book written in the seventies, whose time has come, Small is Beautiful, yes it is and it’s a way of mobilising people behind a renewed sense of worth, not just having a say or contributing but seeing the personal benefit for doing so, job creation, work satisfaction and long-term employment. All of this based around local, micro economics.

The City of London screwed up, should we forget, no absolutely not, not until they can finally wake up to what they have done to millions of families. Should labour be ashamed, yes they should, this was under your watch, you let greed take over and forgot your roots. We as a country should insist our government uses this to the advantage of the populus, ignore the premise that they will go if we keep chastising them, look at the mess they made! I say let them go! Use the profits of the big banks to fund your BIG society, lets see those ill-gotten gains used to improve the lives of the masses and used to improve the lives of our future children. Why shouldn’t the bank pay for updating the school I went to, that hasn’t changed for 30 years, this is our future, and our Government decides we can’t afford it, we simply can’t afford not to. Try this argument, don’t use massive multi-national contractors, the building trade is on its knees, use local companies, local brickies, plasterers, architects, scaffolders and decorators to do the work. Local companies with an interest in the job not just money.

There most certainly is another way but it will take politicians with foresight and the bollocks to challenge the status quo and MAKE it happen. There are few times when once in a generation opportunities arise, this is one of them, don’t squander it. If you do you will not just have marches and protests happening but an undercurrent of social dis-order for decades to come.


The power of ‘OK’

7 Jan

The cost of set-top boxes and all consumer electronics is falling rapidly and these low-cost units have another life and purpose, not just the blind following of media to the living room but low-cost, reliable, efficient services to the living room, with the ‘OK’ button at its heart.

Social inclusion in the digital age and allowing all of those less fortunate than ourselves to be part of the post PC era, is of real importance for a number of reasons.

1. Cost to deliver services for local, regional and national government has to reduce

2. Inclusion and removal of isolation for a large proportion of those in lower socio-economic groups

3. Community creation both online and in the real world

4. Using the power of TV and electronics to make a real difference to people’s lives

5. Real business to case to cut the cost of delivery

I have thought for quite sometime that we need to consider the wider implications of connectivity to society at large being able to deliver NHS, Local Council or national government services using low-cost equipment must be the way forwards if we are going to address the cost reduction agenda as well as service improvement. In previous years this would have been impossible, doing more with less, but it’s a reality and the possibilities are enormous.

This is the turning point where technology, telecoms and IT can meet to make a difference. We should and must help government take advantage of this new era, removing the old ‘money pit’ of IT spend and deliver quality services, thinking a little bit beyond the old ways and embracing the emerging converged world to improve service delivery and the quality of living for so many in our society.

I was given an example in a meeting before christmas about the effort involved in checking people’s safety and health in the big snow falls, the effort of those volunteers was immense, but could have been made so much easier with connected council services using an all-powerful ‘OK’ button on the  remote control, a message to the TV, press ‘OK’ if you’re ok, really simple, really efficient and allows resources to be used to greater benefit.

There are a large number of teenage home carers in the UK, wouldn’t this technology make their lives just a little more bearable, creating inclusion communities, video calling peers for advice or just a chance to talk about problems, improving their lives, that of those who are being cared for and so reducing the state burden, everyone wins.

The business case is clear, reducing face to face, physical house calls, has got to reduce cost, and I’m not talking about those calls that are both necessary and critical but those that can be avoided. Nobody wants to only have someone on a video screen, and I’m not advocating that either, but just being able to cut out a couple of avoidable visits each month would be the business case in its own right. Again the ‘OK’ button proving it’s worth.   

All of this reduces the burden on government spend at all levels, improves service, improves people’s lives and get’s to the holy grail of more with less. Let’s hope those in higher places can take note and can be advised correctly so society at large can enjoy the benefits technology can bring, improving the lives of everyone but especially those in need.

Comments welcome