Monthly Archives: April 2016

£1 trillion-worth of unpaid work in the economy

The value of unpaid work in the UK economy has been calculated at a staggering £1 trillion, or £1,000,000,000,000, or £10 to the power of 12, according to new Office for National Statistics (ONS) data. This includes voluntary work, like TIK.

This annual £1 trillion of value doesn’t come from undeclared work (cash-in-hand jobs where no tax or national insurance is paid) but from the types of unpaid activity that are not normally considered “work” at all: voluntary work outside the home, childcare, looking after the sick and elderly, private transport, DIY in the home, laundry and other housework.

The ONS study, released last week, is important because it officially quantifies ‘home production’ in the UK economy. It shows that the proportion of GDP attributed to unpaid work has grown by 3.9 per cent, from 52.2% to 56.1%, between 2005 and 2014.

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TiK Farm volunteers weeding and planting

As a society, we don’t recognise, celebrate, nurture or redistribute this valuable unpaid work. Every quarter the latest GDP figures are quoted and wrangled over by politicians and the media, while the value of domestic work is seldom discussed.

There are couple of reasons why this is a problem. First, not only is the unpaid economy on a par with the paid economy in terms of hours worked, but it also lays the foundations for the paid economy to function. Without the unpaid and voluntary work, the “real” economy would grind to a halt.

Second, gender inequality: women still do much more childcare than men, despite the myth of ‘new fathers’ who do more. In failing to properly value and support unpaid work, we are failing to recognise women’s double burden of paid and unpaid work following the huge influx of women into employment over the last half-century.

In TiK, we are planning to launch a local timebanking scheme which will put a value to work that local, Kings Langley, timebanking members do and allow them to exchange their time credits for other work. This will add value to the local economy and, in particular, allow volunteers on the TiK Community Farm to formally credit their work and “buy” back produce from the Farm alongside cash sales in the Monthly Food Market.

200 funds that provide grants, equity or other support to social enterprises working in the UK

The REconomy Funding database includes information on over 200 funds that provide grants, equity or other support to REconomy projects, Transition Enterprises & social enterprises working in the UK.

This database has been developed to accompany our “Transition Enterprise Guide” which is packed full of information, inspiration and tips on how to start a REconomy project. A full description of terms used in the database, as well as detailed information on each funder type can be found in the guide.

The search fields at the top of the page can be used to narrow the list down to find specific funders, funding types or funding available in your location. This is the first edition of the REconomy Funding Database which includes information gathered in November 2015. Look for the second edition, due out in spring 2016.

If you have any comments, suggestions or know of any funds or funders that you would like to see in the next edition of our database please contact: lauraouthart@transitionnetwork.org

We must try and screen the film “Demain” in Hertfordshire

Demain is a 2015 French documentary film directed by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent. Faced with a future that scientists say is pretty bleak, the film has the benefit of not giving in to catastrophism. It identifies and covers initiatives that have proven themselves in ten countries around the world: concrete examples of solutions to environmental and social challenges of the twenty-first century, be it agriculture, energy, economy, education and governance.

In 2012, in the British journal Nature1, Anthony Barnosky, Elizabeth Hadly and 20 other scientists stated, in a Consensus Statement orchestrated by California Governor Jerry Brown, that a large part of humanity will disappear before 2100.

This will not be the result of a meteorite but because of the behaviour of humankind leading to the general collapse of ecosystems. This will be the end of stable living conditions: overcrowding, lack of water, lack of fossil fuels, climate change will force millions of the desperately poor to plunder richer countries.

But the film does not dwell on this. “We’re not in a comfort zone,” says Mélanie Laurent, “and, so far, we are not yet in a state of collapse. We are at a particularly inspiring stage: we know it is going to take us a while and it’s time for us mobilise.”

The film is a road movie that reveals examples of practical solutions to the environmental and social issues of the early twenty-first century.

The film crew traveled to ten countries, to meet people who implement creative solutions: mainland France and Reunion, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Southern India, Great Britain, the United States, Switzerland, Sweden and Iceland.

According to Gandhi, “An example is not the best way to convince, it’s the only way to convince.”

In the UK, the townspeople of Todmorden sow vegetables and plant fruit trees in the streets and everyone can come and help themselves. Incredible Edible hopes to achieve food self-sufficiency by 2018.

In Devon’s Riverford Farm, Guy Watson, combined with other organic farmers across the country, orchestrates the delivery of 44,000 organic vegetable boxes a week.

But how to combat inequality and globalisation? Small businesses must think “local” and organise a network. This is explained by the American localist Michelle Long, leader of Ball (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies), a network of 35,000 local entrepreneurs.

In the areas of agriculture, energy, housing and the economy, fully-fledged solutions prove they can work. Why, wonder the filmmakers, do governments not implement these solutions on a larger scale?

“Our social and political structures”, observes Cyril Dion, “are not suited to the scale of these crises. Citizens expect more politicians to meet their expectations.” As the film shows, real democracy has disappeared and politicians no longer listen to citizens, they just bow to those vested interests who always demand more aberrant economic growth.

The film crew discovers that, in some countries, direct democratic mechanisms are put in place by citizens themselves. They propose laws, oppose, write the constitution or modify it. It shows how local democracy has transformed the small town of Kuthambakkam, South India, experienced in the book ‘A Million Peaceful Revolutions’ by Bénédicte Manier.

Finland is cited as a model of education excellence. The Kirkkojärvi Comprehensive School, Espoo, is “based on benevolence.” The teachers love their jobs, do not distribute reports or sanctions, take their meals with the students and use several pedagogies rather than a single one and take into account the personality and the provisions of each student. Child development is emphasised more than the transmission of knowledge. The pupils learn to live in harmony with others, to cooperate, to negotiate. They also learn to use their hands and, despite all this, the purely “academic” results are better: in 2009, the Finnish education system is ranked second worldwide in science, third in reading and sixth in mathematics, “far ahead of all European countries”.

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