The Public Service Bulge

As Beth Simone Noveck, the former aide to Barack Obama, said: “What business do you know, what other sector of the economy, and especially one as big as the public sector, that doesn’t seek to reinvent its business model on a regular basis?”

Public services must reinvent and remodel themselves to deal with all challenges, especially future ones. One of the biggest future challenges is demographic bulges, the most notable being an ageing population. Over the next 20 years the population aged 65-84 will rise by 39%, and those over 85 by 106%. Due to an increased fiscal burden and a lengthy period of austerity under the Conservatives, the UK currently finds itself without the immediate capacity to deal with this, and services such as the NHS are now reaching breaking point.

It’s also not just healthcare. In 2016, there were an estimated 308 people of a pensionable age for every 1,000 people of a working age. By 2037, this is projected to increase to 365 people. An ageing population also means more bus passes, winter fuel allowances, and bereavement benefits. So how does the UK address this demographic bulge in terms of public services?

Of course, we need to be investing in technologies and innovations to improve our public services, but we must also think about how this is intrinsically connected to the demographic bulge. The improvement in technologies, the rise of smartphones, and anytime, anywhere access to information can help to revolutionise public services, make them more accessible, affordable, and simplistic, but it must meet the needs of the public it serves.

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New Labour: Because Blair Deserves Better

Earlier this week I was sitting with a colleague at work, and as it does quite often nowadays, the issue of politics came up. Despite writing about and following politics quite avidly, it’s something I tend to steer clear off at the office. It started when he brought up Corbyn. I tutted, or sighed – my usual Corbyn reaction – and we managed to waste about 10-15 minutes on various topics. Many things came up: Brexit, Trump, Clinton, but the main topic was Blair.

My colleague is to the left of me, although apparently, he was a Tory a few years back (then again Corbyn spent years voting with the Tories…). When Blair came up, he came up with the usual lefty arguments: Red Tory, Iraq… oh, that was it. I sighed again, I tutted again, I rolled my eyes with disdain. Earlier this week I watched Alistair Campbell’s interview with Owen Jones and I felt like I was in the same position with my colleague. It was just straight in one ear and out the other, and would not listen to any form of reason.

Tony Blair deserves better, and so does New Labour. New Labour did incredible things. New Labour rebuilt Britain and made it prosperous and progressive again after 18 years of Conservative rule. New Labour brought in Sure Start, the Good Friday Agreement, devolution, they halved homelessness, dropped hospital waiting times by 69%, brought in 39,000 extra teachers, 39,000 extra doctors, 81,000 extra nurses, increased benefits and tax credits, and upped school standards astronomically. They increased maternity leave, introduced paternity leave, almost eradicated child poverty, and brought in the first ever minimum wage.

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Week 1 Takeaways!

Yes, we are just the one week into the new season, and there will be plenty of off the cuff assumptions and predictions flying around – so I’m going to join in. Minus the Giants loss, I enjoyed Week 1; defences played the vital role, and there were plenty of pure slugfests and punting. So here are my takeaways and thoughts from the first week of the new season…

  • I am eating my words

Just last week, I posted my predictions for the season here. Yes, we’re just the one week in, but it looks I could quickly be eating my words with a few teams. One being the Ravens, who looked incredibly strong away from home at the Bengals. I still believe they don’t look particularly strong on offence, but that defence could well win them a handful of games.

Another team are the Vikings, who I thought could really struggle in a division dominated by the Lions and the Packers. Yes, they were playing against a Saints secondary that would allow me to throw a touchdown or two, but the Vikings offence looked potent, and Diggs and Thielen look to be a potent duo. Finally, the Chargers. Yes, they lost to the Broncos, but it looks as though they could well be more competitive in the AFC West this season.

  • Defences back on top

For years we’ve seen offences on top, QBs tossing touchdowns for fun, and yardages are constantly accelerating. Maybe things have changed this year? This week we had 6 teams fail to score 10 points, and much more failing to achieve 300 scrimmage yards. As a defensive enthusiast, this is great news for me, but it also adds a whole new dynamic to the game. QBs under more pressure is great for the game. Low scoring, tense affairs are great for the game. Now, this might well be a one-week wonder, but I really hope this is the start of a shift.

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The Maturity Complex

I often like to write about items that really grind my gears, and today is no different. As an individual, I’m very much an introvert. I’m not a clubber, can’t stand the idea of concerts or festivals, and generally don’t do much out of my comfort zone. My mental health has also played a role in this, but it’s also just part of who I am.

I don’t personally see that as a bad thing. I’m very grounded, well set up in life, it keeps me focused, busy on projects, and means I don’t waste a penny of my money. The problem is, we seem to be living in a culture where for a teenager or young adult to be engaging in such behaviour is weird, or old, or boring.

I see it quite often from people around my age. They may be tweeting that they’re sitting at home on a Saturday night or snapchatting about some new furniture they’ve picked out, and they always seem to see it as a bad thing. They say, “Oh I’m so boring”, “I’m so tragic”, “I’m so old”, and I just want to shout to them to shut up.

I can tell you now it is not boring at all. If you need to be getting paralytic at a club to be having fun then you are really doing something wrong. It’s not old, that’s a stereotype, and it’s incredibly mature to be doing such things. It’s mature to have your finances in order and not waste it at clubs. It’s not boring to be picking out furniture, it’s fun and mature (again) to be creating a pleasant living environment for yourself. And to be honest, if you see some mature and in control habits as ‘tragic’, there’s really something wrong with you.

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The Hawks to Fly Again

After a 7-month absence, the new NFL season begins this week, as the defending champions the New England Patriots host the Kansas City Chiefs in Foxborough. Quite the cliché, but this season is wide open, and you’d be a fool to predict next year’s champions with any conviction. But here are my views, thoughts, and predictions as we head into the new campaign.

We start in the NFC East, the home of my beloved Giants. This is often one of the hardest divisions to call, but this year it looks slightly clearer cut. Ask anyone, and most will say this year it’s between the Giants and the Cowboys. The Giants have maintained their strong defence, but if they are going to push on, it’s the offence that needs to improve. A poor offensive line meant they couldn’t run the ball effectively, and Eli’s stats dropped as a result. The Giants have brought in reinforcements, but whether it’s enough will remain to be seen. Paul Perkins looks to be a good young running back, and Eli has the offensive weapons to shine, but he must stop the odd silly throw that rears its head.

For the Cowboys, the big test this season will be how they cope with the loss of Elliott for the first 6 games of the season. If they can establish a winning record without him, they will be in fine shape when the fresh running back returns. It will be interesting to also see whether Dak Prescott can continue where he left off last season and whether they can establish the pass rush they so desperately needed last season in the big games.

The other teams in the division, the Eagles and Redskins, cannot be ruled out, but will both most likely be looking at this season as a solidifying year. The Eagles have brought in offensive reinforcements for Wentz, but lack the match winners to be credible. The Redskins have lost a host of big names throughout the pre-season leaving the offence looking bear, so will be expected to struggle more this season. Personally, I see both the Cowboys and the Giants making the playoffs, with the Giants just squeaking the division 11-5.  The Cowboys go 10-6, Eagles 8-8, and the Redskins last with 5-11.

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22 Things at 22

On the 28th, I turn 22, although I feel older, and I thought I’d do what is becoming quite a common piece for any blogger having a birthday. I feel that living on my own in a big city, being a graduate, and working full time has given me plenty of hacks and tips to pass on. Here are my 22 exclusive tips as I turn 22…

  1. Get up early

Make the most of your mornings. I’ve written about this in full here, as they can be a great opportunity to get stuff done and enjoy the rest of your day.

  1. Organisation is your best friend

It’s important to get yourself a planner, set it up in your own unique way, and use it! Set up a google calendar for yourself, and buy yourself a whole load of stationary. Get your life running like a fine engine.

  1. Self-care comes first

It’s important to look after yourself – mental health is just as important as physical health. Take some time off to recover, have a relaxing bath, listen to some soothing music, and take care of yourself.

  1. Set up a desk space

This area should be for any work or personal projects you have going on. Keep this area free of phones, distractions, and procrastination.

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Generation Anxiety

Everything’s our fault, right? Whether it’s the fact we’re too lazy, too liberal, too promiscuous, or like one article I saw, not all of us youths have seen a cow, we’re constantly at fault it seems. I don’t like the idea of such distinct groups e.g. Millennials, Y, Z – so I’ll band us together for this one piece. Those between let’s say, 16 and 35, seem to bear the brunt of the bad news, and it’s no surprise that cases of mental health illnesses, including anxiety, are on the rise.

Is Anxiety new? Of course not. So why does it feel new? Why is it that anxiety is only now being recognised as a serious illness and divided into the subsets that it deserves? Like other mental health problems such as depression and eating disorders, anxiety is simply now more talked about, more open, and in times of such turmoil and stress, it’s arguably more severe. 21% of people rate their levels of anxiety at 6 or above, and the consensus is that anywhere between 10-30% of adults suffer, or are likely to suffer from anxiety at some point.

I’m not as open with anxiety in the same way as I am with my depression, and I suppose that’s because of the anxiety itself in a way. Many of us experience anxious feelings in some way, whether it’s simply difficulty concentrating or a full-blown panic attack, and it’s most definitely on the rise amongst young people. Rachael Dove highlights this, saying that 57% of female university students experienced episodes of overwhelming anxiety, and it reflects the issues many young people have in what is essentially the most important periods of their lives.

We know what older people will say, “Oh it’s technology, social media, they need to get off their phones”. Is it really that simple? There’s evidence for and against that statement. As highlighted here, four of the five most popular forms of social media harm young people’s mental health, with Instagram the most damaging. Of all the main social media websites, only YouTube was judged to have a positive effect on young people. Why is that?

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