Knife crime is at a nine-year high. Everyone agrees: something must be done. Some politicians want more police on the streets, or tougher sentences. Others want cuts to mental health services to be reversed. One MP has suggested every knife in Britain should have a built-in GPS tracker – good luck with that. But knife crime it is a complex issue, and young people’s lives depend on policymakers getting it right. So today, Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is taking a big-picture look at the issue with one of the journalists who’s covered this issue more than perhaps any other: the Guardian’s editor-at-large, Gary Younge.
Public ownership is back on the agenda. Opinion polls show high levels of support for taking all kinds of things back into public hands, from the railways to water to energy, and the Labour party is committed to a vast expansion of public ownership. But if privatisation has failed, what kind of public ownership should replace it? As the critics of nationalisation are quick to say, British Rail wasn’t that great. What should be done differently this time? If these services were nationalised, would the state even know how to run them? And are there other ways of putting them back in public hands? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is joined by Cat Hobbs, director of We Own It campaign, Hilary Wainwright, co-editor of Red Pepper magazine and fellow of the Transnational Institute, and Sahil Dutta, lecturer in political economy at Goldsmiths University.
The Windrush scandal outraged the nation last year. But last week the Home Office reinstated deportation flights to Jamaica for criminal offenders who they say are foreign nationals. Meanwhile, parliament passed a new immigration bill last month, promising to control the “number and type” of people coming to the UK. The home secretary came under fire for proposing a £30,000 income threshold for EU immigrants. A lot of the debate we hear about immigration is made in economic terms. But it’s also about identity, race and belonging. It can be hard at the moment to imagine that a more humane immigration policy might be possible, but that’s exactly what we’re trying to do this week. Guest host Dave Powell is joined by chief exec of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants Satbir Singh, executive director of War on Want Asad Rehman, and Maya Goodfellow, author of a forthcoming book on Britain’s immigration policies.
Dave Powell, Satbir Singh, Asad Rehman, Maya Goodfellow
In the UK, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. And according to the latest stats, one in eight young people have a mental health problem. One big problem is access to treatment. Mental health services are underfunded, leaving many people stuck on waiting lists. But what are the wider social and economic factors that are causing poor mental health in the first place? Is the economy itself damaging our mental health? Is modern life making us sick? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith talks to Hana Riaz, who is researching the impact of gentrification on mental health, NEF organiser Becki Winson, and our wellbeing researcher Annie Quick.
Ayeisha Thomas-Smith, Hana Riaz, Becki Winson, Annie Quick
In this special edition of the Weekly Economics Podcast from its Archive, the issue of climate change is back on the global news agenda. We explore some of the possible solutions, debate what real action looks like and how those most affected can be the most powerful agents for change. It’s easy to feel defeated when the environmental crises we face are so immediate and huge. But action is urgently needed.
David Powell, Environment Lead at the New Economics Foundation, takes over hosting duties and is joined by Alice Bell, Director of Communications at 10:10, and Asad Rehman, Executive Director at War on Want.
Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump; Erdogan in Turkey and the Five Star Movement in Italy; Podemos in Spain and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. All of them have been described as populists. But what does ‘populism’ actually mean? How can it include people with wildly different ideologies under the same umbrella? Is it possible to be a progressive populist – and even if it is, should progressives use that label? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is joined by academic and writer Eliane Glaser, and Michael Walker from Novara Media.
Ayeisha Thomas-Smith, Eliane Glaser, Michael Walker
Happy birthday, NHS! That was the message from the prime minister, as she announced an extra £20bn of funding for the NHS in England by 2023. But is that enough? And where will the money come from? There’s been talk of a ‘Brexit dividend’ – does that mean the infamous battle bus promise has come true? Or will some of us have to pay more tax to keep our NHS on life support? And whatever happened to fixing our broken social care system?
This week, Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is joined by Sarah Bedford, head of social policy at the New Economics Foundation, and Andy Cowper, comment editor of the Health Service Journal.
Universal basic income is now one of the most fashionable concepts in progressive politics. With automation increasing and wages stagnating, the theory is that giving everyone a set amount of money each year will liberate them to do what they want with their lives – and keep them out of poverty. But some people think universal basic income is an utopian impossibility. Others think it’s dangerous. So there’s a proposal for another solution: universal basic services. Instead of giving people money, why not guarantee all of the public services they need to live a full life? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith explores the two ideas with Barb Jacobson, Co-ordinator of Basic Income UK, and Anna Coote, New Economics Foundation Principal Fellow.
A nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury has led to a retaliation by the UK government – expelling diplomats and ramping up a war of words. With Putin winning another huge election victory last week, some people are worried that we’re entering a new Cold War. Meanwhile, UK gas supplies have run low thanks to the recent winter freeze. What if Russia were to switch off our gas? Has it done it to other countries? And how would we get by? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is joined by Dave Powell, who leads on the environment for NEF, and Dustin Benton, policy director for the environmental think tank Green Alliance.
It’s one of the biggest contradictions in British politics. Across the country, baby boomers who own a house cheer as the value of their property rises. Meanwhile their millennial children watch on in horror, as owning their own home increasingly falls out of their reach.
Politicians talk about building more homes but very few of them talk about directly reducing house prices. If house prices are too high for people to be able to buy houses, how can we bring them down? And can we do it without upsetting homeowners and crashing the economy? Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is joined by Joe Beswick, who leads on housing for the New Economics Foundation, and housing campaigner Beth Stratford, a PhD researcher at the University of Leeds.