The Post Growth Challenge

The Post Growth Challenge

Calling writers, artists, designers and video makers.
Can you make a Post Growth Policy Package?

An initiative in collaboration with the Manchester Meteor and the Systems Change Alliance.

What?

A cooperative challenge to find a better way to present the post-growth alternative.

Why?

Over the last two years, various Green New Deals have become very popular. This demonstrates that a set of policy ideas can be effectively communicated by combining them into one positive package.

In contrast, the ideas and proposals of the degrowth, post-growth and steady state economy movements can appear complex, vague, negative and unattractive. Can we overcome that disadvantage by trying to do what the Green Dealers have done and present a Post-Growth Deal? There’s one way to find out – let’s try it!

How?

We invite you to present your Post Growth Policy package.

It needs to be presented in straightforward, concise, easy to understand, and attractive terms, without denying the real difficulties involved in reducing the material and energy throughput of our economies.

This could be done as,

  • A short policy briefing – of up to 600 words (you can use appendices to go into deeper detail).

Or…

  • You could present it in graphic terms, as an ‘infographic’, a cartoon or a comic strip, for example.

Or…

  • You could make a short video (max 5 minutes) to get your ideas over.

Or..

  • Maybe you’ve an even better idea for how to present it– the choice is yours.

Who?

Anyone who is interested in creating an economy that can sustainably support life on Earth.

We anticipate two classes of entry.

A)   Those focussing on a post-growth future in the specific context of Greater Manchester.

And

B)    Those with proposals for national or inter-state (European Union, ALBA, Mercosur, UN, etc. etc.) implementation.

When?

Send us your entries by midnight, GMT, Sunday, 28 February, 2021.

How and where?

Entries should be sent to steadystatemanchester[AT]gmail.com

Articles, briefings, stories, or infographics should be sent in the form of an email attachment. They can be wordprocessor documents ( .odt, .doc, .docx), pdf files, or image files (.jpg, .png, ..gif, .svg). Please keep attachments to less than 2 megabytes in size. For anything larger, compress it or send as a file link (e.g. using dropbox, box, spideroak, google).

Videos should be uploaded to a video hosting platform and a link sent to the above email address.

We will acknowledge entries.

Prizes!

“Everybody has won and all must have prizes.”

All participants will receive a printed copy of our pamphlet, “The Viable Economy … and Society”. The entry that we like best in each class will be presented with a tee-shirt with the Steady State Manchester logo1. Wear it at events, or wear it in bed: we don’t mind!

Most important, though will be that we will publicise the best entries, through our various local and international networks.

In addition we might invite the creator of our favourite Greater Manchester entry to jointly nominate a local post-growth organisation for a small grant.

Rights

All entries will be made under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. This allows anyone to share the work in its original form, so long as they give proper attribution to the creator.

1  So long as we have your size available.

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Andy Burnham urged to act against government’s proposed planning system changes

from the Meteor

There must be a better way.

Open letter calls on Andy Burnham, and the leaders of the conurbation’s ten boroughs, to “intervene” in the government’s plans to change the UK planning system, which the campaigners call an “emergency for communities and local authorities across England.”

Campaigners have written to Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, and the leaders of the city region’s ten local authorities calling on them to “intervene” in the UK government’s proposed overhaul of the English planning system. The open letter says the planning proposals are tantamount to telling developers to “get on with it – do what you like.”

The open letter coordinated by the Manchester Local Plan Coalition, and signed by a diverse range of campaigning organisations, expresses concern about the loss of local democratic control which they say the government’s controversial new planning laws will cause.
……………………. Click to read the full article on The Meteor.

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Systems Change Alliance interview us Wed 16 Dec, 11..00 a.m.

Interview with Mark Burton and Carolyn Kagan – Steady State Manchester

Wednesday Dec 16 2020, 11:00 am – 12:00 am UTC (GMT)

On this YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoTNnsdABKbe0q5y6xRguwQ and later, a recording here: https://systemschangealliance.org/films/

Systems Change Alliance write:

We will be talking to Mark and Carolyn about their work with Steady State Manchester, how to achieve a steady state society and the Viable Economy.

Join the interview live on  YouTube or catch the recorded version on our Films page.

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There must be some way out of here: policies, politics and possibilities in the pancrisis.

There must be some way out of here: policies, politics and possibilities in the pancrisis.

by Mark H Burton

This article was commissioned by the online journal 15/15\15 Revista para una nueva civilización.  The article appears there in Spanish translation / traducción castellana. Also available at Resilience.org.

In July the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic appeared to be waning in Britain. A cross party group of Members of Parliament, led by the sole Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, wrote a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the term used for the finance minister, often abbreviated to just “Chancellor”) to propose a “post-growth recovery”. The letter made a number of suggestions that are standard ecological economic policy proposals, common in the post-growth, degrowth and steady state networks. In summary, the MPs argued that a green recovery needed to prioritise well-being above economic growth. They congratulated the Chancellor on the enormous expenditure already made to support individuals and businesses when the economy was mostly closed down in the second quarter of 2020, arguing that it shows it is possible to prioritise well-being above economic performance. They also note the phenomenon of “secular stagnation”, that the trend in the rate of GDP growth across advanced economies has been declining since well before before the great financial crash of 2008. They argue for a reorientation away from the pursuit of growth towards what they call the well-being economy.

The parliamentary group that wrote the letter is the All Party Group on the Limits to Growth. It is supported by the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP), based at the University of Sussex. Leading advocate of “prosperity without growth”, Tim Jackson is the director of CUSP and advisor to this parliamentary group. The group’s approach is clear on the impossibility of continued growth, drawing, for example, on Jackson’s review of the Meadows et al. Limits to Growth work from the 1970s, which accurately modelled the likely trajectory of the world system under business as usual, emphasising the resource and energy shocks from the rising costs of extraction. As a cross-party group the group has to present its arguments in a way that appeals to those, still working within the ideology and assumptions of the dominant paradigm, who might be open to exploring their limits and alternatives. However, it is still legitimate to ask whether the package of proposals made by the group is adequate to the combined economic, social resource and ecological crises that beset us all. Having done that, I will take a wider perspective on the main policy responses, not just to Covid-19 but to the global conjuncture of multiple crises. One way to do that is to critically examine each of the proposals made in the group’s letter to the Chancellor.

  • the adoption of new measures of societal wellbeing to replace the inappropriate reliance on the GDP as a measure of social progress;

Alternative measures could be useful in identifying areas for policy emphasis and needed reform and intervention. However, there are already a variety of measures of societal and community well-being available to government. Fundamentally, it is not the measurement of economic and social outcomes that drives the incessant material expansion of production and consumption. GDP is a social construction, an artificial abstraction that has a material force in defining expansion as a priority. Yet, in itself, it is not what drives its own expansion: to understand what does we have to look elsewhere.

  • a commitment to join the Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) partnership;

This could have some limited benefits by making an ideological and policy statement of intention and through sharing good practice with other States that are trying to re-orientate their economies towards a well-being agenda. Again, though, it does not address the nub of the problem.

  • the full integration of wellbeing measures into central and local government decision-making processes, and in particular into the Treasury Green Book; and
  • the development of a Wellbeing Budget which aligns Government spending with the needs of a sustainable and inclusive Wellbeing Economy;

This would be helpful in guiding government spending and policy in a variety of spheres toward the pursuit of community well-being. However, It is questionable as to how transformational this would actually be. Again, as I will argue, this is not where the key determinants of the destruction of communities and ecosystems lies. The proposal is a way of mitigating some of that damage but not a means to ending it.

  • the establishment of a formal inquiry into ways in which it may be possible to reduce the ‘growth dependency’ of the UK economy;

This could be interesting insofar as it would bring the many analyses and arguments about the nature of growth and its pursuit more into public discourse. However, its impact would very much depend on the membership of the inquiry team, the evidence it reviewed and the way in which it was then received and acted on by government. The last Labour government commissioned a report from its Sustainable Development Commission into “Prosperity Without Growth”. The report was written by the ecological economist Tim Jackson. It later grew into his influential book of the same title, now in its improved second edition. In the prologue (pp. xxvi-xxix) to that edition, Jackson describes the way the report was received, just at the time the government was hosting a G20 event concerned with the restoration and promotion of GDP growth. The Prime Minister himself was incandescent with anger, the report was sidelined and the Commission that produced it was abolished by the next, Conservative, government in 2010. It was bad timing but it seems unlikely that a government that was explicitly trying to “kick-start growth” would have paid heed to this report. Why should we expect a new inquiry and report to enjoy a different fate?

  • a commitment to explore ways and means to extend the Government’s ability to finance social investment through deficit spending or direct money creation;

This is very much a post-Keynesian idea, that the government has great scope for either borrowing or printing money in order to finance needed areas of expenditure. Debate rages on which mechanism to utilise (to simplify, the choice is between borrowing via the printing of bonds, the creation of money, either by the Treasury or by the Central Bank, or by raising the money through taxation). There are two problems with this. Firstly, a massive expansion of expenditure, even on the green economy, puts money into the pockets of citizens. What they then spend it on is not under the government’s control and in an political-economic system that remains substantially the same, this is likely to include high energy goods. In Keynesian terms, the multiplier isn’t selective: it doesn’t care about the climate. Only if these measures are accompanied by things like diminishing energy and materials caps, and progressive, but carbon and materials-orientated taxation, is there any hope of avoiding this problem. Secondly, while the government has a potentially large “fiscal space”, or flexibility to spend without having to immediately recoup the money, ultimately it does have to do so. To argue otherwise is to confuse money with value. And that requirement to realise greater exchange value from the economy is a potent driver of material expansion – which is broadly speaking what GDP growth is. Actually, much of that value capture has an international dimension whereby the labour of people in the fields and factories of the global South is paid at local prices but the products are sold at profit in the global North, at the prices operative there: a massive global capture of value and a driver of continued labour and ecological exploitation worldwide.

  • the urgent development of a precautionary ‘post growth’ strategy for the UK.

This proposal gets closer to the heart of the problem. Enshrining the precautionary principle in government strategy cannot come soon enough given the multiple threats to human and ecological well-being. It could potentially go beyond mere recommendations to change the way things are measured, or to increase spending in certain areas. Instead, it could offer a strategic framework for re-orientating towards a viable economy and society. However, that would assume the neutralisation of the interest groups that rely on continued material (and financial) economic expansion. It calls into question the essence of capitalism. So again, while hopeful that this could help shift the dominant paradigm, I am intellectually pessimistic.

There must be some way out of here.

The above example of a well-meaning political intervention is, in effect, a microcosm of the present conjuncture. A global pandemic, itself the result of the ever expanding capitalist mode of accumulation, requires a prioritisation of health and well-being. This leads to a massive reduction in economic activity, crudely manifest as work and spending, threatening the livelihoods and well-being of swathes of the population. Mismanagement by governments that have disinvested from public health and welfare, prioritising private capital accumulation, jettisoning the precautionary principle, has exacerbated this crisis. This crisis in the health-economy-wellbeing nexus is situated within a series of wider and deeper crises of planetary and ecological systems, in effect a veritable “pancrisis”, including, 1. carbon pollution – global warming; 2. ecosystem encroachment and edge-convolution1 – biodiversity reduction; 3. resource exhaustion and peak extraction leading to profitability reduction and extraction frontier expansion; 4. and internal contradictions of capitalism – secular stagnation and financial crises. These wider crises have no satisfactory exit within the terms of reference of the current capitalist world system.

There are three main responses to this conjuncture, at least the variety of responses being implemented and imposed can be analysed in terms of these three “ideal types”: inevitably a variety of hybrid forms are apparent in reality.

The first type is an intensification of what has been called the neoliberal capitalist model – a continuation of business as usual. So when the right wing British government is faced with the need to test for the virus and to trace the contacts of those infected, it gives enormous contracts to the large outsourcing firms such as Serco rather than to the public health teams based in local government that know their communities and understand epidemiology. Faced with a housing crisis, the result of land speculation, the inward investment by footloose capital in the housing stock, and previous waves of privatisation of public housing, it proposes to further reduce the already weak democratic scrutiny of planning decisions, which will mean further cycles of speculative development and capital concentration in land and housing. Internationally this kind of thinking is manifest in the application of market models to carbon reduction and to forests, which in both cases will have the opposite effect, allowing polluters to continue polluting and converting wild and commons ecosystems to commodities). At its most extreme, this orientation can be seen in the current far right Brazilian government responding to the collapse in global commodity prices by facilitating the further conversion of wild landscape to farmland, with disastrous consequences for the global climate, biodiversity and the people who live in and rely on the forests.

The second type involves a return to the Keynesian and social democratic approach of mitigating the tendencies of capitalism without fundamentally challenging it. The various Green New Deal proposals exemplify this, using government investment to stimulate desired sectors and thereby to restore the process of value creation and hence the revenues of households, firms and government. Similar are neo-Keynesian demands to respond to the Covid crisis, by using the powers of government to borrow and defer repayment indefinitely, or to create money by fiat, and so re-stimulate economic activity. These interventions could be successful, in their own terms, in the short term. But they are doomed to long term failure in a capitalist system that has run out of road for its continual expansion into new markets, new sources of resources, and new reserves of hitherto unexploited labour, while it faces contradictions manifest in the long term decline in profitability, over-production and under-consumption, and the shocks to its supply chains from inexorably rising extraction costs and an inevitable series of ecological and geopolitical shocks. What is more, this model, by failing to problematise the crisis of ever increasing extraction-production-consumption-pollution, instead has no answer to the likelihood that its policy prescriptions will intensify that process rather than mitigate it.

That leaves the third option, that of equitable frugality, variously understood under headings such as the Simpler Way, Degrowth or Post-Development. This is the least popular solution type but the only one that is proportionate to both the scale and nature of the problem. It tends to be ambiguous, or rather divided, in terms of the orientation of its proponents to the dominant capitalist system, with some voices continuing to think that a benign capitalism is possible (usually confusing the existence of private enterprise in a market for exchange with capitalism as a system of endless and expansive capital accumulation resting on expropriation and exploitation). More pragmatically it suffers from its relative under-development, most obviously in not having an understandable policy package to offer to the political debate. However, there are straws in the wind, with these ideas, once entirely marginal, beginning to enter into mainstream discourse and even appearing, still in hybrid form, in policy prescription and even in some government initiatives. It remains doubtful that they will achieve anything like the scale of popular, let alone elite, acceptance in time to avert the nightmare scenario of simultaneous collapse in multiple ecological, planetary and human provisioning systems. Yet we have to continue to act as if this is a possibility, continuing to work, however hard it may be, for a complete change in political, economic priorities, and more than that, a change of system towards one of necessary but frugal production for human need and no more, coupled with the re-affirmation of the joys of a simpler, slower and cooperative way of living as communities.

Returning to the All Party Group on the Limits to Growth, and practical politics, the task is to promote enactable short-range policies that take us towards a post-growth future. These need to be transformational in effect, setting in motion a set of changes, institutional, ideological and material. It is difficult to identify the best options to start such a sequence in motion, since there are many dimensions of uncertainty, and only a fool can predict the future. However, concepts such as ripple-effects, slow-fuse change, stake-holder analysis, non-reformist reforms, transitional demands, and leverage points, can all help to clarify the terrain for action. The reader can consult a list of potential policy innovations, stratified by governmental level. An example of how to think about the immediate Covid-19 crisis transformationally can be found in this piece by the author.

1Edge-convolution is used here as concise way of referring to the increase in the ecological edge between wild ecosystems and human-dominated ones, which, together with industrial agriculture is the source of new zoonoses (pathogens of animal origin). See Wallace, R. (2020). Dead epidemiologists: On the origins of covid-19. Monthly Review Press. 

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Is this the best we can do to Plan for the Future?

Is this the best we can do to Plan for the Future?

The cover of the Wite Paper complete with dystopian housing development.

The cover of the White Paper complete with dystopian housing development.

by Carolyn Kagan

updated 28 October with a link to our consultation response

The UK Government has issued a White Paper intended to reform the planning system in England – Panning for the Future, 20201. This white paper is out for consultation (due October 29th 2020).  Here we identify the main flaws in it: at the end you will find links to make your own consultation response.  Our own full response can be downloaded from this link.

Putting aside the rather bizarre metaphors used in the Prime Minister’s preface, the politicians’ introductory rhetoric contains things we can agree with. We can agree to the pursuit of a society with powerful links between identity and place, between our unmatchable architectural heritage and the future, between community and purpose; communities that are connected to a planning process that is supposed to serve them, with residents engaged over what happens in their areas; the enhancement of local democracy and accountability; and to a system wherein smaller builders can thrive alongside the big players. Whilst the White Paper dodged clarifying the social purpose of planning, the TCPA summed this up as follows:

The new purpose of planning should be “to positively promote the long-term sustainable development of the nation and the health, safety and wellbeing of individuals. Within this, ‘sustainable development’ should mean: a) managing the use, development and protection of land, the built environment and natural resources in a way which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural wellbeing while sustaining the potential of future generations to meet their own needs; and b) promoting social justice and reducing inequality.2   

This, we can agree to.

We can agree to the building of environmentally friendly homes that will not need to be expensively retrofitted in the future, homes with green spaces and new parks at close hand, where tree lined streets are the norm and where neighbours are not strangers.

However, we do not think the proposals will achieve any of these things – primarily because the wrong answers are being proposed to the wrong questions3. Whilst we agree the planning system needs reform, we cannot agree with the direction of reform proposed, which will reduce democratic accountability, nor will it contribute to climate targets and guarantee energy efficient homes for all, for life.

Of course not enough houses are being built at prices people can afford to buy or rent in the places they want to live: however, this is not due to the planning system. The TCPA report4, a year on from the Raynsford5 review, published in 2019 said:

We have been adding substantially to the stock of unbuilt permissions each year for the last five years. In the year ending June 2019 councils approved around 135,000 more units than were completed by new build and conversion. The Letwin Review6 estimated that there were approximately 107 undelivered sites of above 1,500 units in England with permission for approximately 393,000 homes. The approval of 375,200 units of housing in the year to June 2019 shows that planning is plainly not the ‘problem’ in terms of numbers of consents. The practical delivery of these consents is not within the gift of local authorities. Rather, it relies on what the government has itself has described as a ‘broken’ housing delivery market. Ten years of continuous planning reforms have not achieved the desired ‘step-change’ in the delivery of new homes, while the quality, safety, location and affordability of these units remain a real concern.

The wrong questions being asked in the White paper, which is predicated on the premise that it is the planning system that has led to the housing shortage. Instead, it is land value variations and capture7 that should be addressed, not the planning system if the range of affordable homes are to be built equitably across the country. Furthermore, it is more democratic involvement in the system, not less or restricted, as proposed, that will lead to good and better, places for people to flourish. (Indeed the Letwin Review proposed a stronger role for the public sector, not a weaker one as in the White paper).

The White paper is a shoddy piece of work, failing to provide evidence for the assertions and solutions within, and failing to take notice of the two previous reviews cited above (Raynsford, 2018,19; and Letwin, 2018). These both considered extensive and detailed evidence and made recommendations which, whilst they may not go the whole way to address spatial planning that can embrace the integration of social, economic and environmental place-making that we have promoted8 in the past would at least take us in a direction that encourages more local, democratic involvement in the creation of flourishing and sustainable places. Instead we have what many have called a ‘developers’ charter’9 and a weakening of local democratic involvement that will kill off affordable housing10 – in other words an ideological tract, not a blue print for sustainable, future place-making.

You have until 23.45, Thursday 29th October 2020 to make your response to the White Paper. We suggest that the Friends of the Earth template response is a good place to start, supplemented by the TCPA and CSE response, but do personalise it and submit it as your own response. Use this link to make your response. Our own response is available by clicking HERE.

3 Independent Group, 2020 The wrong answers to the wrong questions. https://www.tcpa.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=f53db0a4-b78d-4898-80e4-647080dad84b

4 TCPA. (2020). Planning 2020 ’One Year On’—20th century Slums? Raynsford review of Planning in england. TCPA. https://www.tcpa.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=7260c5e9-ad84-48a2-92a5-922fa48ba6f7

5 TCPA. (2018). Planning 2020 – Final Report of the Raynsford Review of Planning in England. TCPA. https://www.tcpa.org.uk/raynsford-review

6 Independent Review of Build Out. Final Report. Cm 9720. Letwin Review. Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Oct. 2018. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/752124/Letwin_review_web_version.p

7 UK Government HCLG Select Committee. (2018). Land Value  Capture. HC 766.  Tenth Report of Session 2017-19. Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee. House ofCommons,. https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcomloc/766/766.pdf

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Steady State Manchester’s online shop opens

Now you can buy the printed version of our main pamphlet and a limited stock of unique SSM tee-shirts from this website.

If reading this some months after it was posted, do visit our Shop page to see if we’ve added anything.

Our publications are available free to download but it’s nice to have a properly printed copy. Over time we’ll add to this list but for now we offer,

The Viable Economy … and Society (2020) £3.00 including post and packing within the UK (enquire for international rates). ISBN 978-1-9163858-0-1

Buy Now button

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A Response Guide to the “Our Manchester” Consultation

A Response Guide to the “Our Manchester” Consultation

Manchester City Council is consulting on their core strategy, ‘Our Future Manchester’: the road to 2025. It is via a short web-based survey, which you can access here: https://surveys.manchester.gov.uk/s/OurFutureManchester/

We offer our perspective and some suggestions for your response in this guide. Of course you can respond how you choose, but do take a look at our criticisms of the assumptions involved and our suggestions for issues you might want to highlight.  PDF version of our guide here.
Consultation closes Wednesday 23 Sept.

Below, we’ve reproduced the questions in the Our Manchester survey with suggestions for how you might complete them.

2. Our Manchester will be a thriving, forward-looking place (this is labelled “2” – there is no number 1)

“Our Manchester will be a thriving, forward-looking place, creating good jobs and healthy businesses in new modern industries that all Manchester people have the skills to benefit from.”

Comment: We’d all want Manchester to be a thriving place. As for “forward looking”, it rather depends what that means – it could look forward to the completely wrong kind of future. Good jobs and healthy businesses makes sense, but again the devil’s in the detail. New modern industries – yes they have a part to play but is that all? What about the old, traditional sectors? What about unglamorous “foundational” activities and industries that use existing fairly simple technology to meet basic needs and employ a large number of low to medium-skilled people?

In 2015, you told us that these six goals will help make Manchester more thriving. Rate them in order of how important they are to you:

The following table is problematic since it asks you to place in order things that are not necessarily comparable. The final goal is loaded: to pick environmental and climate saety you are expected to commit to the economic growth that actually feeds environmental and climate damage.

Extremely important

Very important

Important

Not very important

Not important at all

Strong economy creating job chances for all

Strong economy” could be code for the growth-orientated boosterism that has dominated city strategy and which prioritises inward investment (often rent-seeking and unethical, as with the Abu Dhabi schemes) and expansion of material consumption, seemingly at any cost.

Good support for new and established businesses

This needs qualifying – support to do what? Any businesses, or are there criteria and requirements such as Living Wage, local procurement and employment and carbon reduction actions?

Being well connected transport-wise and with technology

We need the right kind of connections – not open veins that channel wealth away. Local interconnectivity is critical.

A leading digital city

X – see our more nuanced comments on digital below.

Rich in culture

Yes, but that needs to be rooted in a strong popular culture not merely the consumption of cultural offerings.

Growth that protects the environment and reduces the impact of climate change

An inappropriately loaded goal. We need ecological and climate safety without the growth that causes the damage.

2. To make Manchester more of a thriving, forward-looking place, what do you think are the most important goals?

(free text box)

Here you get a chance to suggest some alternative goals. These could include

  • greater localisation of production and distribution in the city region and its hinterland,
  • prioritisation of local neighbourhoods and their centres along the lines of the “15 or 20 minute city”,
  • massive reduction of private car use via judicious application of restrictions and levies – the latter being used to support alternative active and public travel,
  • prioritisation of refurbishment and use of existing buildings and a moratorium on high rise buildings with high proportions of steel, glass and concrete,
  • managed contraction of Manchester Airport and a plan for a just transition away from the city’s economic dependence on aviation,

and so on.

3. Our Manchester will be highly skilled

“Our Manchester will be highly skilled – full of talent that is both homegrown in all our local communities, as well as the world’s best, attracted to live and work here.”

This section is not particularly problematic. However, the free text box is a place to suggest the prioritisation of skills for living and working in a low carbon economy and for resilience in the face of the environmental, economic, and climate crisis that will only get more severe in the coming years. The importance of educating in the following areas could be stressed: low-tech (e.g. repair and restoration, growing, useful handicrafts, ….), social (organising and mutual support, conflict resolution) and environmental (minimising ecological and carbon footprints, ecological restoration and protection).

3. In 2015, you told us that these eight goals will make Manchester more skilled. Rate them to show how important they are to you:

Extremely important

Very important

Important

Not very important

Not important at all

Workers earning a real Living Wage

X

Above average school results

This buys into a “zero sum” gain. If we win, who has to lose? Instead, it is more appropriate to emphasise a good quality education that prepares young people for life in an increasingly challenging society. Qualifications are important as an aid for that, not as a primary goal.

People being inspired by opportunities to succeed

Every young person having a good work placement

X

Older people contributing and being valued

X

Residents having the skills to reach their full potential

This is a meaningless platitude but the aspiration to not waste people’s lives and aptitudes is a good one.

Businesses and education together picking up on creative ideas in new, modern industries

Again we see an emphasis on the new and the glamorous at the expense of the basic and fundamental dimensions of Manchester’s economy and society.

Companies developing and training their staff.

Yes…. but for what?

4. To make Manchester more of a highly skilled city, what do you think are the most important goals?

Free text box (see above for suggestions)

Our Manchester will be a fairer place

Our Manchester will be a fairer place where everyone has the same opportunities to unlock their potential, no matter where in our city they are born, or live.”

In 2015, you told us that these ten goals will help to make Manchester fairer. Rate them in order of how important they are to you:

Extremely important

Very important

Important

Not very important

Not important at all

Everyone has the same life chances, no matter where they’re born or live

Obviously

Improvements in health and access to health services

X

Voluntary and community groups able to help communities

Important but beware the dumping of responsibilities and expectations on the VSC sector without adequate support. Also let’s get away from the contract culture.

Children getting the best start in life

Obviously

Older people’s experience and skills being valued and used

X

Supporting people into work

Depends what that means – is this via the government’s regimes of sanctions and benefit reductions? Too vague to rate.

Supporting homeless people

Should read “end homelessness, including hidden homelessness”

Making the cost of heating and cooking affordable for all

X

Increase affordable, low- and zero-carbon energy

X

Building new homes to high standards.

Too vague. Aim for zero carbon (passivhaus equivalent) in operation and full lifecycle transparency and reduction of embodied carbon, as minimum. Minimum space requirements and

6. To make Manchester more of a fairer place, what do you think are the most important goals?

Free text box Do use this!

5. Our Manchester will be a great place to live

“Our Manchester will be a great place to live — with loads to do, leading the way to a low-carbon future that creates new opportunities for work and better living conditions for our residents.”

7. In 2015, you told us that these nine goals will make Manchester a great place to live. Rate them in order of how important they are to you:

See comment beneath the table

Extremely important

Very important

Important

Not very important

Not important at all

A choice of good quality housing in clean, safe, attractive places where people get on and are proud of their diverse neighbourhoods

Investment in walking, cycling and public transport

A cleaner city, with more recycling and less litter,

Better parks and greenspaces

Clean, attractive and well used rivers, canals, lakes and ponds

Using technology to connect us better and improve our city’s future

Investing in sport for residents’ benefit

Being proud of cultural institutions which reflect Manchester’s broad audience

An artistic community that benefits from new art being performed, produced and commissioned.

The above isn’t a bad list but you could add some other suggestions. Radical reduction in motor traffic (it isn’t enough just to encourage the alternatives), increase in the amount of green cover, including tree canopy, wild areas, and reduction in hard surfaces (for water management), and so on, are examples. The cultural dimensions are all consumer-based so you might want to add something on supporting and enhancing “people’s ordinary culture, community arts , protect libraries, and so on).

8. To make Manchester more of a great place to live, what do you think are the most important goals?

Free text box (see suggestions in last comment)

6. Our Manchester will be better connected

“Our Manchester will be better connected with world-class transport and brilliant broadband that put all Mancunians in touch with chances to get ahead.”

The council thinks this is a huge priority. We agree insofar as equitable access to digital resources is important (there is still a huge digital divide in the city and Covid19 has exposed this starkly). However, we are sceptical about the claims for ever faster and “smarter” digital technology which can reduce people’s autonomy, increase the risk of surveillance and manipulation (as seen with the facebook and google scandals recently) and divert attention from the importance of personal , face to face, convivial relationships. We do acknowledge though, that digital technology has a role to play in reducing travel demand, throwing prestige projects like HS2 and the growth of aviation into question.

Do fill in the following sections with these points in mind.

9. In 2015, you told us that these five goals will help Manchester to become better connected. Rate them to show how important they are to you:

Extremely important

Very important

Important

Not very important

Not important at all

An integrated, smart, clean transport network that supports our aim to reduce carbon pollution

More cycling and walking, with the improved roads, paths, street design, cycleways and and signage needed

Having a city at the centre of first class transport networks – locally, regionally, nationally and

internationally

Long-term investment to radically improve transport connections across the North

Using digital technology to transform how we live.

10. To make Manchester a better connected place, what do you think are the most important goals?

Free text box

11. Do you have other goals for Manchester’s future that aren’t mentioned here? We’d love to have your ideas for keeping our city moving on to become the place where anyone can be everything they want to be — and where nobody is left behind.

Free text box

Here’s your chance to re-imaging Manchester as it could be. For inspiration, see this piece where we let our imaginations run freely.

12. Please help us to finish this sentence… ‘Our future Manchester will be….

Their example

Our future Manchester will be a place where everyone can be everything they want to be.

Free text box.

Consultation closes Wednesday 23 Sept.

https://steadystatemanchester.net/

September, 2020.

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Economy and livelihoods after Covid-19

A global on-line symposium of the international degrowth network and the International Society for Ecological Economics.

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September 1 to September 4th, 2020.

The sessions will be in the afternoons BST.

Tickets are available for this symposium, co-organised by Steady State Manchester, over four days.  It will also be available as livestream on Youtube: links to follow.  We’ll be considering the implications of the global Covid-19 pandemic for economy and livelihoods. The Covid-19 pandemic and responses to it have had deeply  unequal impacts on lives, livelihoods and well-being across race, gender and class.  At the same time it has opened up the space for new possibilities for building alternative livelihoods and economies that can take us beyond a capitalist economy that requires ever expanding growth.  Will we go back to business as usual with all the ecological, social and economic risks that will bring or take the path towards a new kind of economy that provides for human needs of all while restoring and protecting the natural world that we all depend on?

Programme and registration details now at this Eventbrite Link

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