New research: Last week we published a major new report, The Good Life, which explored the long decline of the foundations to a good life and provide solutions to address rebuilding them

  • Director Will Tanner wrote for The Times Thunderer, arguing that in order to take control of the increase of crime in certain communities, the government should return to the principle of citizen-led policing by recruiting 20,000 new special constables, as we proposed in the report. 
Elsewhere in the media

In a Financial Times Big Read about entrusting parish councils to revive the British State, Director Will Tanner was quoted about the democratic deficit at a hyperlocal level, and our report Double Devo was cited in relation to “three big ideas” that could give parish councils immediate renewed impetus.

Following an 18 month review, Universities UK published its code of practice on fair admissions last week, and advised that universities should stop making “conditional unconditional” offers, as reported in The Telegraph. We recommended this in our 2019 report Giving Universities a Bad Name.

Upcoming event

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Next week, we are hosting Budget Breakdown: Analysing the 2022 Spring Budget and financial forecasts. We are thrilled to be joined by Anthony Browne MP, Chair of the Backbench Treasury Committee, Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chamber of Commerce and Anna Isaac, Economics Editor at The Independent. The panel will be chaired by Tim Pitt, Partner at Flint Global and Onward Fellow. Please head to our website to sign up.

One week left!

Onward is looking for two exceptional candidates to join our six-month paid internship programme. The role will expose the successful candidates to all aspects of Onward’s work: you will contribute to our research programmes, help organise events with frontline politicians and world-leading experts, and support media campaigns. Please visit our website for details on how to apply, and spread the word to anyone you think might be interested.

Onward Note

Strong human connections; a locus in a thriving place; a place to call home; a job that is secure and rewarding; and institutions that bridge social groups and embed shared values. These have been the foundations of the good life for much of humanity’s existence and they underpin the fabric of society today.

Jenevieve-Treadwell

Onward’s latest report, The Good Life, explores how each of those foundations have been crumbling since well before the pandemic hit.

The promise of better jobs and education has meant that many have moved away from where they grew up. This left social networks to stretch and in some cases, snap altogether. Young people are lonelier than ever, with 21% having one or fewer friends. Middle-aged people are also struggling, with 7% more likely to live further from their parents than they were 20 years ago. 

The spaces around us are no longer bringing us together. Places like pubs and libraries that serve as social bridges are in decline. Since 1990, 11 pubs have closed a week and in the last 15 years over a quarter of libraries have closed. 

A secure home is becoming out of reach. The average couple is now unlikely to be able to afford to buy a home in over a fifth of local authorities across England without additional help. With young people priced out of the market they are increasingly left to bounce around the private rented sector, paying more money for lower quality housing, and having less of a chance to engage in their community. 

The growth in flexible forms of employment has similarly fed the decline. Blue-collar employment once built community through trade union-sponsored night colleges and working men’s clubs. Now they are associated with flexible working, zero-hours contracts and night shifts which erode the predictability and security that are necessary for meaningful community engagement.   

Civic contribution is becoming the exception rather than the norm. Young people feel unable to volunteer due to constraints on their time and a lack of awareness of opportunities. And the richest in our society are retreating from philanthropy – the 10% of households on the highest incomes give just £3 to charity for every £1,000 they earn, half the £6 that the lowest income households give. 

Our report sets out a series of bold ideas to fix these foundations. A Family Care Relief to incentivise and reward intergenerational support. A Right to Regenerate to radically empower local communities. Charitable Enterprise Zones to encourage new philanthropic links with left behind places. All of these ideas seek to build a new social covenant to restore connection, belonging and security for all. 

In the aftermath of the last period of society-wide devastation – the Second World War – William Beveridge wrote: “a time for revolutions in the world’s history is a time for revolutions, not for patching.” This sentiment should guide policy makers today.

Jenevieve Treadwell, Researcher at Onward

Policy Bites

The largest ever R&D budget, worth £39.8 billion, was announced yesterday. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has confirmed the budget for 2022-2025, driving forward the Government’s ambition to become a science superpower. Link

Rail networks in Greater Manchester and the North West are set to receive an £84 million boost to improve reliability, marking the start of a decade worth of investment expected to transform journeys for train passengers in the North West. Link

The Department for Digital Culture, Media & Sport has announced £48 million funding to safeguard cultural assets such as museums, libraries, and other venues across different parts of the country and aid levelling up efforts by powering economic growth through culture. Link

Quick Links

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methode times prod web bin 838404f6 ca53 11ec b4b6 e30a321b8cd3 - Onward Newsletter, 15/03/22
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Our combination of high-interest rates and a weak economy is deadly for the housing market.
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1600x 1 - Onward Newsletter, 15/03/22
The Faded Town Where Britain’s Brexit Vision Lives or Dies
Darlington has emerged as the poster child for the government’s flagship plan to increase regional prosperity, but some locals are sceptical.
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The rise, fall and rebirth of the shopping centre | Financial Times
The decline of brick-and-mortar retail has been a catastrophe for malls.
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The rise, fall and rebirth of the shopping centre | Financial Times
The decline of brick-and-mortar retail has been a catastrophe for malls.