389 episodes

Programme examining the ideas and forces which shape public policy in Britain and abroad, presented by distinguished writers, journalists and academics.

Analysis BBC Radio 4

    • Government
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

Programme examining the ideas and forces which shape public policy in Britain and abroad, presented by distinguished writers, journalists and academics.

    The low pay puzzle

    The low pay puzzle

    From April, 2.7 million workers will get one of the biggest pay rises in UK history as the National Living Wage rises to £11.44 an hour. But will they feel better off?
    It's 25 years since the National Minimum Wage was introduced. During that time it's credited with putting billions of extra pounds in the pockets of low-paid workers. But, despite that, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, two thirds of households living in poverty have at least one adult in work. And, according to the Institute for Fiscal studies, far from cutting the annual benefits bill, the cost of benefits paid to working families has ballooned since 1999 to about 50 billion pounds a year.

    So what's behind this low pay puzzle? And what can employers, governments and workers do to ensure that work pays? Pauline Mason investigates.
    Presenter: Pauline Mason
    Producer: Ravi Naik
    Editor: Clare Fordham.
    Contributors:
    Kate Bell, TUC Assistant General Secretary and former low pay commissioner
    Damian Grimshaw, Professor of Employment Studies, Kings College London and London & South Forum Co-Lead at the Productivity Institute
    Patricia Findlay, Distinguished Professor of Work and Employment Relations, University of Strathclyde, and Director of the Scottish Centre for Employment Research
    Matthew Fell, Low Pay Commissioner and Director of Competitiveness at BusinessLDN
    Nye Cominetti, Principal Economist, the Resolution Foundation
    James Cockett, Labour Market Economist, CIPD
    Margaret Esapa, Managing Director and owner, Cherry Care Services, Oxfordshire
    Conor Taylor, Director, Foresso

    • 29 min
    How real is the existential threat from AI?

    How real is the existential threat from AI?

    The existential threat caused by Artificial Intelligence is a popular theme in science fiction. But more recently it’s started to be taken seriously by governments around the world and the companies developing the technology. Where did this idea come from, and why is so much money being spent on it, rather than on the regulation of AI and the real threat it poses to jobs and to copyright?
    Presenter: Jack Stilgoe
    Producer: Philip Reevell
    Editor: Clare Fordham

    • 29 min
    What would Isambard Kingdom Brunel have done?

    What would Isambard Kingdom Brunel have done?

    It's 2024, and the Manchester extension of HS2 has been cancelled. The leg to Leeds was cancelled in 2021. The remaining line to Birmingham is now less than half the initial planned route, and will cost over double the initial budget. This is not exclusive to HS2; Sprialling costs and missed deadlines have become commonplace in big engineering projects, the UK is now one of the most expensive places in the world to build infrastructure, but Britain has a proud history of engineering, and one name in particular looms large - Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Ruthless, bloody minded and notoriously driven - what could he do about the current state of UK infrastructure?
    Presenter: Neil Maggs
    Producer: Johnny I'Anson
    Editor: Clare Fordham

    • 28 min
    Power Drive

    Power Drive

    It's widely believed that the Conservaives won the Uxbridge by-election because of motorists who were annoyed by the London mayor's ultra low emission zone. With a general election looming, both main english parties want to harness "driver power". But how did the vote of car and van owners become so important? Does the independence driving brings lead to a libertarian attitude? Or is that combative attitude caused by drivers feeling that they have been used as cash-cows by successive governments, which have gladly taken their road tax and fuel duty. But that power balance is also set to change, with the eventual electrification of all UK vehicles. Could road pricing replace fuel duty - and how will motorists respond?
    Presenter: Chris Bowlby
    Producer: Jim Frank
    Editor: Clare Fordham

    • 28 min
    How to cure the small town blues

    How to cure the small town blues

    Middlesbrough, in the north-east, is one of the most deprived towns in England. Once a steel and shipbuilding powerhouse, its fortunes changed when those industries closed down. Today, the town that Gladstone described as “an infant Hercules” faces a precarious future. David Baker, who grew up in Middlesbrough in the 1970s, returns to his hometown to ask what can be done to revive its fortunes and what Middlesbrough can teach us about regenerating small, postindustrial towns elsewhere in the UK.
    Presenter: David Baker
    Producer: Dan Hardoon
    Editor: Clare Fordham
    Contributors:
    Natasha Vall, Professor of Urban and Cultural History, Teesside University
    Rob Nichols, Editor, Middlesbrough FC fanzine Fly Me To The Moon
    Sally Rodgers, DJ, producer, and vocalist
    Steve Dugan, Head of Enterprise, Teesside University
    Oliver Lloyd, co-founder and COO, Dink
    Chris Cooke, Mayor of Middlesbrough
    Gary Hamilton, managing director, Community Leisure Management
    Lord Michael Heseltine, former Secretary of State for the Environment
    With thanks to the students of Teesside University and Reverend Kath Dean of the Genesis Project.

    • 28 min
    How to Dismantle a Democracy

    How to Dismantle a Democracy

    Democracies do not die in military coups. They are dismantled slowly, by libel laws, through tax audits, and procedure. Democracies are dismantled by bureaucrats and judges, not by soldiers and heavy-handed policing. It has always been thus, from ancient Rome to present-day Tunisia. The program outlines the tricks of the trade that imperceptibly kill democracies – and how examples in Mexico, Turkey, India and Poland illustrate that the autocratic playbook is nearly always the same. With Anne Applebaum, historian and staff writer at The Atlantic, Amy Slipowitz, research manager at Freedom House, Greta Rios, co-executive director, People Power, David Runciman, professor of politics at the University of Cambridge, Professor Larry Diamond, Stanford University, Jennifer Gandhi, professor of political science and global affairs, Yale University, Renata Uitz, professor of law and government at Royal Holloway, The University of London.
    Presenter: Matt Qvortrup
    Producer: Bob Howard
    Editor: Clare Fordham

    • 28 min

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