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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

November 2019 - State of the North, polls, social security and social care

State of the North 2019

IPPR North has launched State of the North 2019. At a time of great upheaval, uncertainty and division, instead of looking inward this year's State of the North looked outward - to the country and across the developed world to show how the North fits into a bigger picture. Researchers investigated how divided but interdependent we are as a country by comparing the UK to countries overseas.

Researchers found that our divides are among the worst in the developed world and that they are getting worse. The report exposed the alarming extent of the gaps between the places that "have" and those that "have not" in the UK, showing that the country is more regionally divided than comparable countries like France or Germany on vital areas like health, jobs, disposable income and productivity.

The report was covered by the every major national newspaper from the Guardian to The Times, in addition to hundreds of highly trusted regional and local papers including featuring on the front page of the Yorkshire Post. The report authors Luke Raikes and Arianna Giovannini spoke on radio and TV news about the findings - watch Arianna discuss the report on Sky News here. The report was also welcomed by lots of regional stakeholders including the Northern Mayors.

IPPR has seen great success with many policy proposals being adopted by parties across the political spectrum:

IPPR/YouGov Polling

Polling conducted by YouGov for IPPR found a majority of the public were in favour of fundamental reform of the economy. Like the paradigm-shifting elections of 1945 and 1979, victory in the coming election may well fall to whichever party can best capture the public mood for transformational change.

The wide ranging public attitudes poll found that 60 per cent of the British electorate want the next government to make changes to the way the economy is run. Only 21 per cent want merely 'small' changes, and just 2 per cent of those polled believe things should carry on as they are.

The polling was covered in a big page splash in the Observer and has since fed into election debate.

Ethical Care

Social care has faced a near-permanent crisis. While resources have become increasingly constrained, demand for social care has been rising. To address this, social care desperately needs a long-term funding settlement.

But money alone will not transform the sector. A new IPPR report calls for a bold reform plan in order to ensure that new funding spreads best practice and stamps out inadequate provision and outdated models of care. IPPR's blueprint includes calls for free personal care and an Ethical Commissioning Charter requiring providers to meet minimum standards or face being replaced.

The report received coverage in the Daily Express, sector press and Left Foot Forward wrote it up as IPPR's 7 step plan for social care.

Research and Development

Dedicating resources to research and development is key to enabling innovation, but the UK economy sits well below the OECD average. IPPR has published a new briefing on the amount of public R&D spending needed to for the major parties' to hit their targets. The report argues that public investment in R&D had the potential to 'crowd in' additional private R&D spending, particularly if that spending is 'mission based'.

Report author Henry Parkes explains in this video how a 'mission based' industrial strategy can achieve goals such as reaching net zero or preparing for an ageing society.

Social (In)security

A new IPPR report finds that social security payments have reached their lowest level since 1945 compared to average earnings, after years in which the real value of benefits has lagged behind wage growth - culminating in the recent benefits freeze.

This report argues that it is time to embrace a more progressive vision of social security in the 21st century. In the world's fifth richest country, a basic minimum standard of living should be a foundation for citizenship. The findings were prominently featured in the Guardian, The I, The Big Issue and elsewhere.

Author Clare McNeil wrote for Times Red Box on the report's finding that Johnson's plan to raise the NICs threshold would do little to help low income people and primarily benefit high earners.

Public Health Cuts

Whilst it is widely known that public health services across the country have faced cuts, new IPPR research reveals that it is the most deprived communities in England that have faced the most substantial cuts. The total absolute cuts in the poorest places have been six times larger than in the least deprived. In relative terms, the poorest ten places have lost approximately 35p in every £1 of their budget, compared to approximately 20p in every £1 of their budget cut in the most affluent places.

The findings and IPPR's calls for greater public health investment were reported on in The Guardian, The I and BBC Look North made a short film - watch it here.