This really excellent article in the Guardian has got me thinking – and trying to be practical about it – and I’d like you to think about it too please… It’s about the funding crisis at Newcastle council. Apparently Liverpool and Birmingham councils are in the same situation. Their money has been cut by central Government – understandable in part but some of the cuts seem just plain wrong – but the level of need in their areas is growing. They face an impossible choice between letting people suffer or going bankrupt.
What a crazy situation
It’s a desperate situation in these and other parts of Britain, particularly the North East and North West, and yet it could and could be changed, I’m sure. How crazy is it that the South East has piles of money and lots of jobs – with too few people to do them – while these other parts of the country have hundreds of thousands of unemployed people with no hope? (yes I know there is a lot of poverty in the South as well but it’s not as widespread and entrenched as in many parts of the North) This is a stupid situation and it’s an inequality that can and should be squashed.
What is the answer?
…or what are the answers, as there are probably several things that need to happen? What do you think? These are a few ideas I have had:
We need to have much cheaper transport, particularly trains, so that people in areas where there is high unemployment can get to where the work is. Personally I would like to see the railway renationalised – I don’t usually think that about industries but with transport I think it’s essential.
If we are bringing in drone technology to deliver parcels etc, surely we can use this and other technology to use the cheap space and workforce in the north instead of paying top dollar in the south, For example, we could send shoes and boots from the south to the north to be mended – it’s not completely outrageous. , and . site more offices and whole companies that are entirely internet-based in the cheaper north than in the south.
The sharing economy
The sharing economy, where people swap, share, rent or barter rather than own, must be able to help with this situation. There’s a useful article here on the BBC website which looks at some of the new, emerging economies like the sharing economy that is raising people’s standards of living without much cost.
I’m a big fan of the Grameen Bank, set up by Nobel Laureate Professor Yunus. It gives out micro loans to tiny businesses – usually one-woman operations – and has had a lot of success in developing countries in pulling people out of poverty. We may be the sixth largest economy in the world but I think there’s a big need for this small, very cheap loans. Currently there are a number of charities that enable people with money to give small, very cheap loans to people in developing countries as well. Maybe it’s time loans like this were made to businesses in this country. The difficulty is that whereas you can give £20 to someone in a developing country and it will buy a lot, you would have to make it £1,000 or more here.
I can genuinely understand why the government is cutting whatever it can at the moment. Our deficit (the difference between the amount we spend every year and the amount we make) is going up, largely because of social costs like housing benefit and unemployment benefit. This is not a situation that can continue…we simply can’t keep borrowing…but grants to help create work and get people off benefits would be a good use of cash.
What do you think we should do about this? If you regularly read this website it’s likely that you are interested in business, in saving money and in building up wealth. You probably have better ideas than the people who are governing! So what do you think should be done? Do let me know in the comments below. We might actually be able to put some of them into effect!