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Wind of change

June 29 2021     Dr Jurgen Grotz

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Wind of change

Dr Jurgen Grotz,  Director of the Institute for Volunteering Research

In 1990, a West German rock band, Scorpions, sang about the Wind of Change “Listening to the wind of change, The world is closing in, Did you ever think, That we could be so close, like brothers.” They sang about an optimistic world at the end of the Cold War. You’d be forgiven to believe that the direction of the wind has changed, and that the United Kingdom is not just drifting apart from its European partners but also apart as the United Kingdom.

On 21 May 2021 Sir David Lidington, the former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, delivered a chilling message in his Antcliffe Lecture at Cambridge University, “Today, the United Kingdom is in greater peril than at any moment in my lifetime.”[1] An assessment that will make many shudder. Yet, the signs are unmistakable, as evidence of serious divergence between the devolved nations again and again also comes to the surface in our research, as for example, in the Lords Chamber on Thursday 24th June 2021, in a seemingly unrelated debate, when the House of Lords spoke about ‘Social Care and the Role of Carers’. [2].

Baroness Jolly, in opening the debate provided two examples:

The devolved nations have instituted occupancy guarantees where they are falling, due sadly to the deaths of residents and hesitancy of individuals to move into care settings during the pandemic. In England, occupancy rates have fallen 7% to below 80%. Will the Government follow the example of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and intervene with this short-term measure before wider reforms of funding and provision are announced? If not, I fear there will be no social care system left to reform.” “

In both Wales and Scotland, care work is acknowledged as a profession. Would the Minister explain why care workers in England are not regulated and their pay derisory? What is stopping their recognition and regulation in England, as for those working in Wales and Scotland?”

During this debate Baroness Scott of Needham Market also raised evidence from our ESRC funded research on Mobilising Voluntary Action in the UK (MVAin4):

Further research by the ESRC has shown how the devolved Administrations have taken a significantly different approach during the pandemic.

We are grateful to Baroness Scott of Needham Market, who, as a member of the Research Advisory Panel of the Institute for Volunteering Research, is also chairing the Advisory Panel of our research project MVAin4, which is deliberately reaching across the nations of the UK.

We begun this research during the pandemic to identify differences between policies in the nations of the UK, with a view to enable mutual learning, identify areas for collaboration, all in the spirit of a shared effort supporting post COVID-19 reconstruction. We did not expect to find such a stark picture, “Listening to the Wind of Change”.

[1] State of the Union. (21 May 2021). Sir David Lidington: Antcliffe Lecture, Cambridge University. 

[2] HL Deb (24 June 2021). Vol. 813. []

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