24/01/2013 Newsnight


24/01/2013

Struggling workers in Sheffield; innovation and the invisibility cloak; why it takes so long to adopt a child in Britain; and should women go into combat? With Gavin Esler.


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We ask a photographer who spent six weeks with British women on the

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front line in Afghanistan, whether women want to be in combat and

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Good evening. In the world in which many of us live, as we'll see in a

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moment, families are seeing their household income cut by almost a

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five ndge real terms, since the economic crisis began. The

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Government's task has been not merely to manage the economy now,

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but in their words, to rebalance it for the future, to compete in what

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David Cameron frequently calls "the global race against fast growing

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economies in the developing world". The Science Minister today

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announced �600 million targeted to what he called eight great

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technologies from big data and robotics to regenerative medicine

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to help turn the clever ideas of British scientists into stunning

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new industries, jobs and growth. Ahead of what are expected to be

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dismal growth figures tomorrow, we wanted to see what Mr Will its had

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in mind. Our political editor has Texture - two or more substances

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not chemically united... economy, overdependent on runaway

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financial centre ond under- dependent on hard industry.

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Coalition - two parties that are not chemically similar but gel

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around the same long-term solution, an industrial policy.

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The state injects funds into inventions helping them flourish

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and eventually hoping they add to the sum of human progress, but also

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create some cash. A belief in an industrial policy is not in the

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Conservative Party DNA, a belief in the free market is coded for, but

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not the idea that the state could intervene in the British economy.

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That is until now, and a new breed of Tory politician. They believe if

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you can't pick winners, you can pick sector, like the invisible

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cloak sector. Harry Potter thought he was special, but soon he will

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lose his advantage, when an academic at Imperial College makes

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a breakthrough. The Government will give him money to help him make

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invisibility more visible. Invisibility for me is a grand

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challenge. My work involves controlling light and here at

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Imperial College we've developed some new tech jol any -- technology

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for controlling light in a powerful way. We wanted to show the world

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how powerful this technology was. We thought invisibility, which is

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very popular with all manner of people, would be a very good way, a

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grand challenge for us to show off our technology. Today, at the

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think-tank Policy Exchange, the minister for science, David Willey,

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he of the two brains, set out how he wanted to channel money to

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others with two brains. The Government will back eight great

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technologies of the future. He said there's a direct role for

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Government in deciding broad areas of technology to support before

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they reach full commercialisation. Who got to be the last poster girl

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for the British brains trust? Manchester. Home to the two

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brilliant scientists I met this morning, who have just been awarded

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the Nobel Prize for physics. Their prize was for the discovery of a

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substance called graphene. With graphene it seems we were too late.

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One academic think it's should have been picked earlier. If you

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consider something like graphene. We won the Nobel Prize. We have a

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problem of commercialisation seeking to address here. Whether it

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signals a broader change in Government economic thinking is the

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interesting and key question. This could be just Willits on his own

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pointing to what might be done time prove the commercialisation of

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leading science and engineering in the UK. But it could be part of a

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broader change in policy. If the commercialisation can be successful,

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what could be the gains? The European Commission has estimated

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that the money put into research could be multiplied by six-and-a-

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half times, with the emphasis on the "could". There will be failure

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as much as success. The problem is we've heard so many speeches from

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ministers now, I lose count. This must be the 20th from Vince Cable

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or David will its. They've been in Government for over two-and-a-half

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years and still no proper industrial strategy is implemented.

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We know the Government has cut total departmental science spending

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in the first year of this Parliament. It's not just what you

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spent, it's actually ensuring that what you fund in terms of research

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goes on to be developed. Even if they make an industrial strategy

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work, it's a long-term strategy. What hasn't material aisles sd

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short-term economic growth. This morning the IMF chief

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economists said, in his words, that now was perhaps a good time to take

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stock of the UK Government's deficit-reduction programme,

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perhaps slow down was his message. The EOCD, IMF and EC have all

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predicted that the last quarter of 2012 will see a contraction of the

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British economy. But the real thing is published tomorrow. Government

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sources are braced for, in the words of one, hideous figures.

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Today the Deputy Prime Minister admitted mistakes had been made in

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the Government's economic stratd ji, that there could have been more

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capital spending in the early days, instead of the cuts to that budget.

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Hydrogen - H plus one... Invisibility clobgz, chocolate

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biscuits that don't melt, but if necessity is the mother of

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invention, what this Government needs is a damage tote speed up

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economic recovery. David Willits joins me now. You say

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that the 1980s made us very wary of governments trying to pick winners.

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You are picking winners in the sense that you're talking about

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eight great technologies that you think will work, that would be

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winners. Yes. We can't be sure they'll be winners, but Governments

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do have to decide and set priorities. We're trying to tackle

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one of the fundamental problems in the economy. We have excellent

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science, but we stop funding it when it's too far short of the

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market. Then we beat up ourselves and say we don't take risk. The

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fact is when I go to America, I see there, federal agencies that

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support science much closer through the development of the technology,

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closer to market, when of course, individual companies take over and

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there's no role for Government in backing those individual companies.

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Recognising market failure in this country is the key to it -- to it.

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I'm recognising the Valley of Death between the great theoretical ideas

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in the universities and research labs and the commercial application.

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The Government is saying there's absolutely a role for Government in

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helping ideas closer to market and as you can't be indiscriminate, you

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have to identify the technologies that you think have the best

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chances of success. This isn't my personal whim. This stkraus on the

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expert advice that scientists whose advice we published. But it is a

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big bet. There may be eight other great technologies out there that

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others have not come up with. It may be unlikely that however big

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the brains, any Government committee is going to come up with

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If you look at what happens in America, you will see that in

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Stanford, there was federal funding that initially got funding, not

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because the federal Government backed a particular company, but it

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was far more adventurous in the way it supported IT, and the way the

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defence department backed start-up company using IT in innovative ways.

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We in Britain should not be so paralysed by the fear that

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sometimes we get it wrong, sometimes we will get it wrong. And

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not do anything. It is worth a go, it is worth identifying these great

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technologies, emerging from our science labs and bringing them

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closer to market. It is tax-payers' money you are having a go with, at

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the same time as just has been said, you are cutting science budgets?

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That is not true, we have offered cash protection to the current

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science spend. We did inherit from the previous Labour Government big

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planned reductions in capital spending, what we have been doing,

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in the past two years, is reversing those cuts. We have put in an extra

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�1.5 billion. There is a reduction in science spending, and David

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Cameron talks a lot about this global race, he may very well be

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right in that, aren't we losing the global race, China overlook us in R

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& D spending in 2005 and France, and now America, you have made the

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case for. We are pretty slow? of the things I set out today is I

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think we have competitive advantages, we have great science,

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we have an extraordinary history of great science, we still have

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brilliant technologies. What I'm saying is if Government,

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researchers and business come together, we can back them. I think

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that includes going to the challenge of the Sheffield

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programme discussion you are going to have, it includes the challenge

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of manufacturing coming back to Britain. Remember, we are now, for

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the first time since the mid-70s, we are a net exporter of motorcars,

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we are second in the world in Aerospace, we can do these things.

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We are waiting for the growth figures tomorrow, it might be

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George Osborne that needs the invisibility cloak. When you have

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the IMF chief economists saying slower fiscal consolidation may be

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appropriate. He's suggesting that actually it is political

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stubbornness that is stopping Mr Osbourne from thinking again?

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you inherit one of the biggest budget deficits from any modern

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European country, you have to take small steps, it is happening over a

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period of several years. Nobody is saying you could avoid bringing

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down the budget deficit. We have to use our limited resources smartly

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one of the smart ways, where George Osborne, myself, Vince Cable, want

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to spend that money, is backing the technologies. They are not all

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going to work, but some of them, in ten years time, will be proviegd

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the jobs and prosperity we need -- providing the jobs and prosperity

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we need. You have made that point clearly. Nick Clegg is saying in

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House Magazine, that the Government cut capital spending too much and

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too early, he might be smart on. That do you think you got it wrong

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at the start of the term, you cut too hard? I remember our

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discussions of this in cabinet, the Chancellor was clear in the very

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first spending decisions, he wasn't going to add any further

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reductioned to the plant -- reductions to the plant capital

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reductions from the last Government. He has actually added back capital.

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The reason I have �600 million to invest today in science capital is

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in this Autumn Statement, the Chancellor reduced current spending

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in order to put �5 billion more into capital, including science

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capital, that is the correct judgment. The point may be, that

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one definition of economic madness is to keep doing the same thing and

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expect a different result. It is clear they are signalling that you

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should think again? The overall budget judgment is absolutely clear

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that we have to carry on, on the steady programme of bringing the

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budget deficit down. Of course that's painful, but it is necessary,

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and it is one of the reasons why we have historically low interest

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rates. Then, within the almost half of entire national spending, it is

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right to use it as productively as we can, that involves getting a

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grip on welfare bills, instead investing in education and science.

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That is what we are doing. We will leave it there.

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Whatever the plans for the future and the new ideas for a new

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industrial strategy for the 21st century, many people have a

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different priority, survival. Many of us are struggling with falling

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real wages and rising prices, plus the uncertainty of an economy where

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there are jobs beg created, where, as we hear from Sheffield and Paul

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Mason, they might not last long. Welcome to the age of uncertainty.

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At the moment what we have is an economy, we will probably find out

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tomorrow morning, that is not growing T will be lucky if we are

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flatlining, it maying that the last three months of last year were

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again a dip, and we are in the middle of what could be a technical

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triple-dip recession, and yet this economy is capable of creating jobs

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hand over fist. Half a million in the past 12 months, 90,000 in the

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past quarter. Now, this is a conundrum. There is a debate that

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goes on about why it exists. I want to put a kind of shape to it, with

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the ninth great technology of the country which is the Newsnight

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graphics. This is the level of GDP through the crisis, you see the big

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dip in 2009, and the failure to recover to where we were. This is

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five years of pain, technically longer than what happened in the

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1930s. Let me now superimpose that the percentage of employed people,

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this is a different left-hand scale, this is percentages, it starts at

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72. The shape is important, you see like-for-like fall in the scale,

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but the recovery is only just happening. That is what is really

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going on. Look at the steepness of that pink curve at the end. That is

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a real recovery. There was a time when some of the Government's

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critics said this is an illusion, this is real. What does it create

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economically? When you go down to the gran later level, and you ask

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people -- granular level, when you ask people on part-time, part-time

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contracts, giving back a lot of their work place benefits, as we

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are about to see, giving back some of their wages, and what interests

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me at the microeconomic level is the way this is beginning after

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five years of pain to change people's perception of what the

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possible future for them s and wait they are starting to consume and

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even think about work. We went to Sheffield for a couple of days, the

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capital of electropop, and still manufacturing, as you can see.

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They call it flatlining, growth, like the temperature, struggling to

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stay above zero. For many families it is worse than flatlining. People

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in Sheffield have lost 19% of their household income in the past five

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years. It seems to be hitting everyone quite hard, you notice it

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in all sorts of sectors ts on the news all the time. Lots of chains

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and businesses going bust and having problems. It is all around

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you. Sheffield is a city where they

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still work with metal, big chunks of it, though now it is precision

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cut. People here know this is where the

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economic recovery is supposed to be. Driving exports, jobs, higher

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skills. But the firm had to make 70 people

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redundant before Christmas, and the rest were forced to take a week's

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unpaid leave. So everybody is worried about the future.

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You have given up a week's wages, how did that feel? We are not happy

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about it, but we have had to do it just to cement our jobs. I went on

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holiday and I came back, and I found out the day I got back that

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lucky I hadn't lost my job. How old are you? 28. So probably the last

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five years of your working life things have been tough, when will

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we see an end to this fairly flat, stagnant conditions? I'm hoping, if

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I'm realistic I can't see it any time soon, a few years. At the

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moment a lot of our business in the offshore wind energy business is

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export business. Henry Sherman has built this company rapidly, even in

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the face of financial crisis. They make armoured cars, wind farms, big

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stuff, in general, he knows places like this are supposed to be

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driving the recovery, but it is tough. We had a very strong first

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half, in the second half it fell away dramatically. Unfortunately we

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had to lay people off, we don't like doing that, it is very

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difficult. We had to cut costs, reduce all our expenditures in

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order to keep the business as tight and surviving as it is. That's

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supposedly in a period where we thought we were coming out of

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recession? It was, there were a few little glimmer of light on the

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horizon. But 2013 is looking quite challenging.

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The fact is, the hard figures for GDP and exports don't begin to

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capture the full story. Wherever you go, people tell you about

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struggling, surviving, adapting, holding on. After five years of

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crisis, all this gets harder. What is shipping like as an economy --

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what's Sheffield like as an economy? I personally think there

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are no jobs, the jobs there is are not flexible, when you are offered

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the job the hours are very long, you either accept it or you don't.

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It is not like before where you could actually negotiate a job. Now

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you can't. It is hard to measure insecurity,

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but whether it is the factory or a Surestart centre, that is what

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people talk about. Without this centre, neither of these mothers

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would be able to hold down jobs. Though they are both white collar,

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both are juggling childcare and work, and it is getting harder.

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People are grateful for the jobs they have got, and have to shuffle

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their lives around it, because you can't turn work down. Of course the

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shuffling doesn't show up in any economic figures? No. I think

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people have managed very well, in terms of shuffling their lives

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round. I have got friends that work opposite shifts to their partners

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so they have not had to pay for childcare, because that is not

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something that they can afford to do. But, I think there is a lot of

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people are really hoping that there is an end in sight, because they

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have really struggled. What this tells us, is that

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relentless flatlining, year upon year, is changing the way people

:20:59.:21:08.
:21:09.:21:09.

think, and act, and spend. There are jobs, but no security, wages,

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but no wage rises. Everybody's worried about redundancy, and the

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old drivers of growth are gone. It is hard, I mean the house is

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rented, we would like to buy it. As first time buyers at the moment we

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stand absolutely no chance of getting a mortgage. Spencer got

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made redundant four times in five years before getting his current

:21:34.:21:38.

job, running a lighting company. Laura is in the training business.

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Do either of you see an end to this period where jobs are at risk,

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where the company might not be there, or is that the new normal?

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think it is the new normal. You see it every day on the news. You just

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don't know, it is like if your job gets put as risk, you are never

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secure in finding, even if you go to a big-named company, there is no

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big-named company any more. I would like to think we are going to come

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out of it, and things will get easier. I don't think they will

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ever go back to what they were. In Sheffield, they know all about

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recessions, they lived through steep downturns in the 1980s and

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1990s. This one is different, the gloom may not be deep, but it is

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relentless, what they want to know here is when it will end.

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Well there are a number of puzzling things about a stagnant economy

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creating jobs, and watching Paul Mason's report with me were the

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labour market economist, John Philpott, John Wastnage from the

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British chambers of summers, and my other guest.

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You see some of this up close, what sacrifices are people making in

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order to keep things together in this kind of economy? They are huge,

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I know a mum called Nina who has five hours a week, one hour a day

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in the school playground, she has four children, does a fantastic job

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bringing them, she's chuffed to have a job, but it is five hours a

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week. Obviously she's putting that in with her benefits and juggling

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to make ends meet at the end of every week. My question is, what

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happens when she wants to buy two pairs of school shoes for the

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children, or pay for a school trip they have to go on, where is the

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extra money. She's being paid very little above the minimum wage.

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do you make of the argument that a job is a job, she obviously wants

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to do it and be active in the work market. She wants, presumably a

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better job, but it is better than not working? That is debatable,

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because her pay isn't enough to be able to ride her through the

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circumstances she's finding herself in. Part of her income comes from

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benefit as well, that has to be balanced. The question is, what

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happens when there is extra expenditure, what about a hole day,

:23:57.:24:01.

what about the extra things. How do you -- a holiday, what about the

:24:01.:24:06.

extra things, how do you pay for doors for Christmas, you go to the

:24:06.:24:13.

payday lender. I can't tell you how many people are afraid of what the

:24:13.:24:18.

knock on the door will bring, and pay the doorstep lender rather than

:24:18.:24:23.

their rent, because they are afraid. We saw whole communities in the

:24:23.:24:28.

1980s blighted by various things. It is almost like a low heamorrhage

:24:28.:24:31.

now? It is much more dispersed, lots of people are feeling it,

:24:31.:24:34.

rather than it being concentrated in particular areas. I think the

:24:34.:24:38.

key is that because we haven't had the rise in unemployment, that a

:24:38.:24:43.

lot of people, myself included, were expecting, it is almost a

:24:43.:24:46.

sense as though things are slightly better this time. But I think as

:24:46.:24:51.

Paul's film showed, there is an underlying crisis of insecurity,

:24:51.:24:56.

and that's a symptom of an on going economic malaise that doesn't seem

:24:56.:25:01.

to be getting better very quickly. We have had essentially five years

:25:01.:25:04.

now of the age of insecurity, and we have on top of it the age of

:25:04.:25:07.

austerity, and how long it will take to get out of that I think is

:25:07.:25:11.

something that is taxing a lot of economists. Insecurity is difficult

:25:11.:25:15.

to measure, but you know when you see it. I wonder what about the

:25:15.:25:19.

different kinds of employment, we have heard of people just making do

:25:19.:25:22.

with short-term working, zero hours working, what about self-employed,

:25:22.:25:26.

a lot of self-employment? Self- employment is one of the big

:25:26.:25:29.

stories of the recession. Until recently the number of employees

:25:29.:25:33.

have been falling, but we have seen on going rising in self-employment.

:25:33.:25:36.

A lot of this new self-employment is very different from the sort

:25:36.:25:40.

that we saw in the past. A lot of it is unskilled, in particular a

:25:40.:25:44.

lot of the new self-employed are working relatively short hours.

:25:44.:25:49.

These are people who would, ideally, prefer to be employee. They can't

:25:49.:25:53.

get jobs, and essentially declaring themselves a self-employed person

:25:53.:25:59.

so they are not unemployed. Because that could 0 make them look

:25:59.:26:04.

unattractive to future employers. Of course, it means that they have

:26:04.:26:11.

very limited incomes. It flatters the labour market statistics,

:26:11.:26:16.

because it makes things look better than the underlying reality it is.

:26:16.:26:20.

How bad is it for businesses to survive, we saw the sacrifices

:26:20.:26:24.

people were making to keep a job, working for nothing a bit to help

:26:24.:26:27.

out the employer who wants to keep people on? Employers are finding it

:26:27.:26:32.

very tough as well. Uncertainty is the new normal, not only for

:26:32.:26:35.

employees but employers, they are desperate for that confidence that

:26:35.:26:40.

is going to allow them to grow. As you heard from the MD, it is never

:26:40.:26:44.

nice to make people redundant, but sometimes it is necessary. What we

:26:44.:26:48.

have seen in this crisis that has been different from previous crises,

:26:48.:26:52.

is a really flexible labour market, that has allowed the pain to be

:26:52.:26:55.

spread a bit more evenly, and has kept more people in work, which has

:26:55.:27:00.

to be a good thing. Obvious criticism is, it means low-pay,

:27:00.:27:03.

people doing skilled jobs, and really not getting the rate for the

:27:03.:27:06.

job. What would happen if an employer like that had to pay what

:27:06.:27:10.

people are asking, and what they would need to keep pace with

:27:10.:27:15.

inflation? If an employer had to pay for more their labour, you

:27:15.:27:20.

would find they would employ fewer people, or they would look to

:27:20.:27:22.

automation in more cases to replace labour.

:27:22.:27:25.

I know you want to come in on that, one of the things that struck me

:27:25.:27:30.

about the film is people thinking when is it all going to end? Where

:27:30.:27:34.

is the hope? What is the next thing? That is hugely important. If

:27:34.:27:38.

you are struggling to put the food on the table each week, and you are

:27:38.:27:41.

wondering, the stress of getting your children to school and to hold

:27:41.:27:46.

down a job, a shift job, that constant stress, week after week

:27:46.:27:50.

after week, has an effect long-term on your health, and your well being.

:27:50.:27:54.

It is great news that there are extra jobs, and employers and small

:27:54.:27:57.

businesses are flourishing and finding ways to employ people, what

:27:57.:28:01.

has been better news is some of the big institutions, Government

:28:01.:28:07.

departments, the Department of Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith has

:28:07.:28:12.

announced they will pay the living wage, that is �7.35 nationwide,

:28:12.:28:14.

much higher than the minimum wage. That makes a significant difference

:28:15.:28:20.

to working families. What do you think might bring this to an end

:28:20.:28:24.

finally. People want to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and

:28:24.:28:27.

it keeps getting longer? I agree with some of the things that John

:28:27.:28:34.

was saying. I'm worried about this terminology of the "New Norman", it

:28:34.:28:39.

implies there is an inevitability about this we have to accept. If we

:28:39.:28:44.

had -- The "new normal, it implies there is an inevitability about it

:28:44.:28:50.

and we have to accept. If we had this retraction there would be a

:28:50.:28:54.

sense of national crisis, without the jobs, but because the labour

:28:54.:28:57.

market has come out OK people are thinking that it is OK and we can

:28:57.:29:00.

adapt to it. But the economy is flatlining, and something ought to

:29:00.:29:06.

be done about it, what that is has to do in part with a much more

:29:06.:29:10.

aggressive fiscal policy. As the IMF were saying, we should be

:29:10.:29:16.

slowing down the austerity. We agree with the Government's

:29:16.:29:21.

deficit strategy, we would like them to repriorise the spending,

:29:22.:29:26.

rely on more house building, and leveraging into infrastructure

:29:26.:29:32.

projects, making it easier and less risky for businesss to take people

:29:32.:29:37.

on. And finances for small and medium-sized businesses. Can I say

:29:37.:29:40.

in the poor communities, what I have come across, going into

:29:40.:29:45.

Christmas, pawning your children's toys to put food on the table. The

:29:45.:29:50.

new normal, if the wages are so low, is this the sort of economy we want

:29:50.:29:55.

our children to be brought up in? Where they hardly see their parents

:29:55.:29:59.

because they have to double shift and the aspiration is to low wages

:29:59.:30:03.

and a low standard of living. Is that a good enough new normal for

:30:03.:30:10.

Britain? The children's charity, Barnardo's estimates that 7,000

:30:10.:30:14.

children in this country are awaiting adoings, the highest

:30:14.:30:17.

figure since 2007, the one thing they are looking for is a loving,

:30:17.:30:21.

caring family environment. Many would-be parents are looking for

:30:21.:30:25.

children to adopt, why, do you ask, can it take up to four years to put

:30:25.:30:29.

the child and adoptive parents together. When the Government asked

:30:29.:30:33.

that question, one answer they came up with was too much bureaucracy in

:30:33.:30:36.

local councils in England, today the Government announce those

:30:36.:30:39.

councils may be striped of responsibility for adoption if they

:30:39.:30:44.

don't improve. The first years of our life are a

:30:45.:30:49.

time of exploration, learning and development. But for thousands of

:30:49.:30:54.

children they are a period of trauma and waiting.

:30:54.:30:59.

Last year 3,450 children were adopted. But their wait is a long

:30:59.:31:04.

one, spending on average two years and seven months between leaving

:31:04.:31:08.

their birth family and arriving with their new one. That includes

:31:08.:31:12.

11 months in care before it is decided they should be adopted, and

:31:12.:31:16.

another 11 months to match and place the child with adoptive

:31:16.:31:19.

parents. And then another nine months before the actual adoption

:31:19.:31:23.

takes place. Today the Government repeated its

:31:23.:31:28.

desire that more children should be adopted more quickly. In their

:31:28.:31:32.

sights, 150 local councils, and the threat that if they don't improve,

:31:32.:31:35.

they will be striped of their involvement in the adoption process.

:31:35.:31:41.

For the Government, it's a political agenda tinged by the

:31:41.:31:44.

personal. Education Secretary, Michael Gove, was himself adopted,

:31:44.:31:49.

and has told how his birth name was Graham, while his junior minister

:31:49.:31:55.

Johhn Timpson, has two adopted brothers. The older a child gets

:31:55.:31:59.

the longer they wait to get placed. Six-year-olds wait almost four

:31:59.:32:03.

years before adoption, and it can be a long road for adoptive parents

:32:03.:32:07.

too. Of those that come through months of screening, almost half

:32:07.:32:11.

still don't have a child seven months after being approved.

:32:11.:32:15.

This man, whose identity we have kept anonymous, has adopted two

:32:15.:32:19.

children. He told us that the adoption process is a labourious

:32:19.:32:22.

one. From day one, to the day the court

:32:22.:32:26.

signed off our daughter, I think it was three years. It was probably

:32:26.:32:29.

two-and-a-half years before we knew a child was matched to us, then it

:32:29.:32:34.

was another six months before there was formallised by the courts. They

:32:34.:32:37.

would come every Wednesday evening, inbetween you had homework to write

:32:37.:32:40.

about, how was your family, do you have any problems with your family,

:32:40.:32:44.

do you get on with your brothers and sisters. They went through the

:32:44.:32:47.

whole family-type things and close things. They ask you some pretty

:32:47.:32:52.

personal questions. Do you still have sex, how many times do you

:32:52.:32:57.

have sex. My friends are asked do you still use sex toys, completely

:32:57.:33:02.

inappropriate questions, I think. It started going into your opinion

:33:02.:33:04.

on multiculturalism, and homosexuality, your view on a range

:33:04.:33:07.

of topical issues, I don't know how important those really were,

:33:07.:33:12.

without a doubt it is worth the grief, however ridiculous and time-

:33:12.:33:15.

consuming the system is. It is worth it, because you get so much

:33:15.:33:19.

more out at the end of it than you could wish for. There could be

:33:19.:33:22.

happier parents and safer children around if more people were adopting,

:33:22.:33:26.

so yes it is worth the hassle, there shouldn't be that hassle.

:33:26.:33:29.

Local authorities are responsible for 90% of all adoptions, but the

:33:29.:33:33.

Government believes they are only doing what they have to do by law,

:33:33.:33:38.

meeting demand in their local area. They say some potential adoptive

:33:38.:33:42.

parents are being turned away, because they are not needed locally,

:33:42.:33:47.

irrespective of the national demand. The Government wants training to be

:33:47.:33:52.

outsourced for adoptive parents, saying it will make the system far

:33:52.:33:55.

more efficient. But councils point to an increase in the number of

:33:55.:34:00.

children adopted in the last 12 months. This is a shared issue, it

:34:00.:34:02.

is not just something about Government, but councils are

:34:02.:34:07.

getting on with their part of the problem, by improving the number of

:34:07.:34:10.

children approved for adoption. We have to make sure the bits in the

:34:10.:34:14.

Government's hands, around the national adoption gateway, and the

:34:14.:34:20.

bureaucracy which they Prom my today address are done quickly. --

:34:20.:34:26.

promised are addressed quickly. We are still waiting. Today the answer

:34:26.:34:34.

today for the Government could be the 30 organisations who adopt

:34:34.:34:37.

parents. We are encouraged to have working relationships with the

:34:37.:34:42.

local authorities to work together, to maximise the chances of placing

:34:42.:34:45.

these children, to encourage more people to come forward to adopt. As

:34:45.:34:48.

a result, together, if we have more people coming forward to adopt, we

:34:48.:34:52.

hope that more children will be placed. The monies that we get,

:34:52.:34:55.

either as a local authority, or as a voluntary sector, will help us

:34:55.:34:59.

achieve that. Today's announcement is not an

:34:59.:35:04.

isolated measure, as well as trying to reduce the time it takes, they

:35:04.:35:11.

want to less importance attached to matching a child with adoptive

:35:11.:35:15.

parents of the same ethnicity. According to Barnardo's, a white

:35:16.:35:22.

child is three-times more likely to be adopted than a black child. The

:35:22.:35:30.

report makes no hiding of the -- The question is, whether for the

:35:30.:35:37.

thousands of children waiting to be adopted, it is a necessary risk.

:35:37.:35:40.

Debbie Jones is President of the Association of Directors of

:35:40.:35:44.

Children's Services and head of Children's Services in Lambeth. Do

:35:44.:35:48.

you accept there is a problem, that there is something wrong when there

:35:48.:35:51.

are 7,000 children who would like to be adopted, but can't be, and

:35:51.:35:55.

some of them are waiting two to four years to find the right

:35:55.:35:58.

parent? Within the sector we absolutely accept that there is a

:35:58.:36:03.

problem. It can never be right for children to wait longer than they

:36:03.:36:08.

need to, to get placed with the right family. Where is the

:36:08.:36:11.

bottleneck, the implications that Government is suggesting is some

:36:11.:36:15.

local council, some local areas are aslope, and they are not getting on

:36:15.:36:20.

with it? The process of adoption is a long and a complex one, adoption

:36:20.:36:23.

is probably one of the most difficult but most important

:36:23.:36:29.

decisions that you are ever going to make for a child. So making sure

:36:29.:36:34.

that it is a once-only decision is the most important thing. That

:36:34.:36:39.

means it needs to be done carefully. In the right amount of time. Not

:36:39.:36:46.

too much time. With some councils, it is absolutely true, it is a

:36:46.:36:51.

statement of fact, that it takes too long. We recognise that, we

:36:51.:36:54.

would never...People Understand that social workers get it in the

:36:54.:36:57.

neck, if you act quickly or slowly and so on, but there are some

:36:58.:37:02.

parents who are found to be, potential parents and adopters,

:37:02.:37:05.

found absolutely fit and it takes another seven months to put a child

:37:05.:37:08.

with them. That seems odd, if the parents are OK, obviously you have

:37:08.:37:13.

to match a child to parent, where is the problem? The process of

:37:13.:37:19.

matching the right child to the right family, has to take the

:37:19.:37:23.

length of time it needs to take. If it takes two years, that is too

:37:23.:37:28.

long. If it takes three months and you get it wrong, that is even more

:37:28.:37:31.

wrong. But, you work with some of these Voluntary Organisations any

:37:31.:37:36.

way, they are good organisations, you accept that. If there are these

:37:36.:37:40.

problems, why not rely on them to help speed things up? I understand

:37:40.:37:44.

you think of it as a bit of a threat, but maybe that is what's

:37:44.:37:48.

necessary? We're actually working very closely both with Government

:37:48.:37:53.

and the voluntary sector. In order to introduce the radical reforms

:37:53.:37:58.

that Mr Timpson was talking about today. That is the minister for the

:37:58.:38:06.

Department of Education. Yes, we have been working with them, as

:38:06.:38:10.

councillor Simmons was saying for the last 12 month. A number of new

:38:10.:38:15.

initiatives are being introduced, which includes the Adoption Gateway,

:38:15.:38:20.

reducing that dreadful bureaucracy that colleagues have complained

:38:20.:38:25.

about. Do you see this as some kind of big stick, I noticed the

:38:25.:38:28.

councillor quoted elsewhere as saying this could adversary impact

:38:28.:38:33.

on parents and children, a disjointed and confusing system. It

:38:33.:38:37.

may be a spur to get on with it? The threat of taking away the power

:38:37.:38:43.

to recruit adopters, we see as an incredibly blunt instrument, that

:38:43.:38:46.

could destablise the current system. As you have heard, we currently

:38:46.:38:51.

have something in the region of between 4,000 and 7,000 children,

:38:51.:38:57.

waiting for adoptive families. What we don't need is the system in

:38:57.:39:00.

chaos while we change and reorganise. Surely what we need to

:39:00.:39:05.

do is build on the best, build on the best practice in local

:39:05.:39:10.

authorities that are doing it well, build on the best partnerships with

:39:10.:39:15.

other local authorities, with the voluntary agencies, in order to

:39:15.:39:20.

ensure that we build economies of scale, and make it work. What we

:39:20.:39:25.

don't need is a ministerial Sword of Damocles, hanging over our heads.

:39:25.:39:30.

That is how we see it. What it will do is create uncertainty in the

:39:30.:39:34.

sector, it will be demoralising for staff doing it well, and actually,

:39:34.:39:39.

at the end of the day, what we are all concerned about is finding the

:39:39.:39:42.

right homes for children, because at the end of the day, Gavin, those

:39:43.:39:48.

children that wait the longest are often those children with the most

:39:48.:39:53.

complex need. You cannot afford to get it wrong for any child.

:39:53.:39:56.

The United States military is, for the first time, to allow women to

:39:57.:40:00.

serve in combat roles. This will strengthen the US military's

:40:00.:40:04.

ability to win wars, according to the Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta,

:40:04.:40:09.

it will remove what President Obama calls, unnecessary gender-based

:40:09.:40:13.

barriers to service. More than 150 women in support roles in the US

:40:13.:40:17.

military have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Already critics

:40:17.:40:20.

have questioned whether women have enough strength or stamina, and

:40:20.:40:25.

also whether mixed united in combat might prove difficult to manage.

:40:25.:40:29.

For women American soldiers, fighting on the frontline of one of

:40:29.:40:34.

the last barriers to equality. next greatest generation will be

:40:34.:40:39.

one of men and women who will fight and die together to protect this

:40:39.:40:49.
:40:49.:40:50.

nation. That is what freedom is all about. In Australia, Israel,

:40:50.:40:52.

Germany and Canada, women can already take on combat roles, that

:40:52.:40:57.

is not the case in Britain. Here, they make up about 10% of our Armed

:40:57.:41:03.

Forces, that is around 17,000, but soldiers like these ones

:41:03.:41:06.

photographed in Helmand Province last year, are still restricted

:41:06.:41:10.

from joining the infantry or face- to-face combat. The last time the

:41:10.:41:16.

policy was looked at was 2010 then the MoD decided women were

:41:16.:41:19.

physically and psychologically capable of doing combat jobs, but

:41:19.:41:23.

there wasn't evidence that changing the policy was worthwhile. With the

:41:24.:41:26.

frontline becoming more blurred, even without those changes, more

:41:26.:41:34.

and more women are ending up in harm's way.

:41:34.:41:38.

The photographer who took the photographs there is with us, she

:41:38.:41:42.

spent six months with troops in Afghanistan and she spent 12 years

:41:42.:41:46.

with the RAF. We will run more of those photographs as we talk. In

:41:46.:41:50.

terms of the roles women do now, what sorts of things do they do now,

:41:50.:41:54.

and do they do things only women could do in Afghanistan? One of the

:41:54.:41:58.

things I noticed in Helmand, and why I did the project, is the

:41:59.:42:03.

female soldiers I worked with were female engagment officers, they

:42:03.:42:06.

could only be women, because they were working with other Afghan

:42:06.:42:09.

women, and going out and meeting them. The interesting thing about

:42:09.:42:13.

that, to achieve that they had to go out on patrol with infantry

:42:13.:42:16.

soldiers, so there was the two dynamics there. They are doing it

:42:16.:42:21.

any way. And facing all the same dangers in many cases as the men?

:42:21.:42:26.

Yes, of course. It was your sense that many of them would be prepared

:42:26.:42:29.

to fight, that was why they joined up and would like to be in a combat

:42:29.:42:33.

war? I don't think it is why they joined up. The reasons why people

:42:33.:42:36.

join the military is not to kill people. That is very important to

:42:36.:42:41.

say that. But also the girls themselves are very, very capable

:42:41.:42:44.

individuals, and quite physically fit as well. I think they would

:42:44.:42:48.

have been relied on in any situation out on the ground to do

:42:48.:42:52.

what they needed to do. Let me tell you some of the things being said

:42:52.:42:56.

in the United States about the plans. That women don't have enough

:42:56.:43:00.

upper body strength, and the stamina and physical stuff. What do

:43:01.:43:07.

you think about that? There is a element of truth in the upper body

:43:07.:43:12.

strength, that is a physical thing you can't deny. I saw examples of

:43:12.:43:15.

physically strong women in Afghanistan, I met one girl who

:43:15.:43:20.

could do more pull-ups than most of the enm. It is down to individual

:43:20.:43:23.

attributes, if a girl is strong enough, maybe she should have been

:43:23.:43:26.

given the opportunity. What about the more cultural things, that

:43:26.:43:30.

mixed units are difficult to manage, perhaps, and particularly in combat.

:43:30.:43:33.

We don't permit mixed football teams, women play football and it

:43:33.:43:36.

is great, and men play football and it is fantastic and all that, you

:43:36.:43:40.

don't let them play together, it just doesn't work? In Afghanistan I

:43:40.:43:43.

witnessed men and women working together in very high-pressured

:43:43.:43:47.

environments, on the frontline, and I didn't ever see a problem with

:43:47.:43:51.

that. I didn't see any outward displays of discrimination between

:43:51.:43:55.

the guys and the girls. I think it was all down to team spirit,

:43:55.:43:58.

cohesion and working together to get the job done. That is really

:43:58.:44:01.

what I saw. What surprised me the most, actually, I almost assumed

:44:01.:44:06.

that a girl on her own in a patrol base would maybe be subjected to

:44:06.:44:10.

that, but I didn't actually see any of that myself. I think they

:44:10.:44:18.

adapted really well. Were the men a problem? Men are always a problem!

:44:18.:44:23.

Do they have problems with this idea, it is a man's problem?

:44:23.:44:27.

can't speak from a man's point of view, but I do speak to men in the

:44:27.:44:31.

military. I think there would be a split on whether men would agree

:44:31.:44:36.

whether or not women should be on the frontline. I have asked men

:44:36.:44:41.

working alongside a girl, like as a medic twice a day, they see her as

:44:41.:44:45.

part of the team and the patrol. They don't have an issue with

:44:45.:44:49.

gender, as long as you can do the job there is no problem. I wonder

:44:49.:44:52.

if Britain is a bit slow on this, maybe we are stuck on the mud,

:44:52.:44:57.

there is quite a lot of militaries who do it, it used to be famously

:44:57.:45:00.

the Australians, but a lot of military organisations are trying?

:45:01.:45:04.

I can't speak on behalf of the MoD, I don't know what their policy is

:45:04.:45:07.

on all of this. I do think that women are involved in the military

:45:07.:45:11.

since the Second World War, it is not a new thing, really. I think it

:45:11.:45:14.

is very interesting that the US are now making it legitimate for women

:45:14.:45:18.

to be on the frontline. It would be interesting to see how that plays

:45:18.:45:22.

out. I definitely will be following that very closely. Another lot of

:45:22.:45:25.

photographs. Thank you very much for sharing your photographs as

:45:25.:45:35.
:45:35.:45:35.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 45 seconds

:45:35.:46:21.

well. That's all for tonight. If you are

:46:21.:46:24.

feeling a bit chilly this winter, spare a thought for the people of

:46:24.:46:31.

Chicago, where last night it was so cold that when firefighters put out

:46:31.:46:39.

a blaze in an abandoned building, the water froze and turned it into

:46:39.:46:49.
:46:49.:46:55.

# Fire and ice # I want to give you my love

:46:55.:46:59.

# You just take a little piece of my heart

:47:00.:47:09.
:47:10.:47:20.

Still cold weather to come through Friday, milder but wetter there

:47:21.:47:24.

after. You could see the first signs of rain coming into the

:47:24.:47:28.

western part of UK by the end of tonight. As it moves into the

:47:28.:47:32.

colder air, turning readily into snow, ahead of it a cold day across

:47:32.:47:36.

much of England. The wind freshening up, that will make it

:47:36.:47:39.

feel pretty bitter. Grey skies not helping with the feel of the day.

:47:39.:47:42.

Further west, look at the difference, rain across Cornwall,

:47:42.:47:46.

temperatures of seven degrees. Rain rather than snow pushing into the

:47:46.:47:51.

western parts of Wales. There might be sleet on the lead edge and wet

:47:51.:47:55.

snow over the hill. North Wales more likely to see a spell of snow.

:47:55.:47:58.

It will turn back to rain. Definitely into the milder air,

:47:58.:48:02.

during Friday across Northern Ireland, six or seven degrees, a

:48:02.:48:06.

wet-looking day. The rain moves across the colder weather across

:48:06.:48:10.

Scotland, turning readily to snow, disruptive know potentially, that

:48:10.:48:13.

could be a problem through Friday afternoon and evening, across part

:48:13.:48:17.

of England as well. By Saturday, look at the way the temperatures

:48:17.:48:25.

jump up. Six degrees in Edinburgh, we haven't seen that for a while.

:48:25.:48:28.

Birmingham beginning to creep up. The mild air coming from the

:48:28.:48:31.

Struggling workers in Sheffield dealing with a drop in living standards; innovation and the invisibility cloak; why it takes so long to adopt a child in Britain; and should the MoD let women go into combat? With Gavin Esler.


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