Wednesday, 9 May 2012

new economics foundation launch 'Wisdom of Prevention' programme

I've written a piece in today's Guardian about the importance of prevention, to coincide with the launch of 'The Wisdom of Prevention', a new programme of work from the new economics foundation. The programme was launched this morning at a conference at the LSE. I chaired the first session with speakers Adair Turner, of the Financial Services Authority, Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee and David Robinson, who runs Community Links. So far the concept has remained stuck in a silo, limited to prevention for those at risk, in particular under-5s and troubled families and characterised by initiatives such as parenting classes. If it is to mean anything it has to be multi-disciplinary, reflected by the range of speakers. David Robinson made a valuable contribution with his suggestion that prevention be framed as a series of grand challenges, with regard to social care for an aging society and the treatment of mental illness. Jonathan Porritt, who spoke in the following session, shook the meeting up by pointing to a major failure of political will, which can only be expected to continue. He claimed that the best work, in terms of climate change prevention, was being done by multi-nationals while moribund democratic institutions fail us - a claim Margaret Hodge strenuously denied. But both agreed on the critical importance of democratic renewal. For what is the launch of an agenda which is ultimately about system change,and which can only rooted in tackling structural inequalities, it was a good start.

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