Today on Learning & Teaching – finishing up the school year what on earth do we do from now on?
While some parents are pinching pennies while their child is studying, it has been encouraging to see that some communities are investing big money into doing things differently. Do you live in a community that is really making it a priority to rebuild buildings, lift housing tenancies, refurbish swimming pools or public libraries? Are you writing to politicians?
It may be too late to attend the AJ or other workshops (we didn’t show up at the built environment ONE anyone saw), but that doesn’t mean you won’t be affecting public discussion and policy. If you live near a school, park or “Council House” (whatever they have called that building) don’t forget to tell them what you think.
We’ve been hearing a lot recently about the debate over housing, tax and expansion – important in the light of the latter’s conditional invitation to consult councils over the massive expansion of Manchester. A coalition of housing providers and charities – focussed on restoring council housing stock – recently published the first part of its report, To Build Back Better, Tax Families Like Us, calling for a radical approach to finance and housing. A special version of the report was launched today, 17 September, at the council’s White Cross HQ in Manchester.
Importantly, the report identifies how councils are looking to put themselves in a position to invest in the rebuilding and refurbishment of their communities. It makes clear that councils – rather than local government itself – should be spearheading this reform. This, we believe, will help by removing the financial disincentives to the rebuilding of local authority housing stock.
Public services are, of course, about much more than simply building buildings. To build back better, tax families like us, we need to reform finance and look seriously at taxation. Councils are in desperate need of cash to spend on improving their estates – and on connecting schools, parks and libraries to town centres. And education in cities is a pressing priority for many public services, if there is to be a real co-production between housing and education.
Let’s ask ourselves what our governments think we can afford? An economy in decline, we’ve been told, because of Chinese overproduction. An over-stretched welfare system. An inflated housing market. Shrinking civil service departments.
Perhaps that’s why the government’s Make it Work ideas are so welcome. Make it work means saying ‘you’re in it together.’ And by making living standards better by making buildings better, they might even use the money to build better.