Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Never be the same again –

forthcoming changes in tax credits

an article in Adviser: a guide to benefits, housing, employment, consumer and money advice (Number 144 March/April 2011).

Just for once it was not the late arrival of a publication at the British Library which makes it seem as though I’m working well behind the news. I am, but it was not the fault of anyone but myself. I read this informative article by Will Hadwen (freelance welfare rights consultant) last month, and again today and I have to admit that I am little clearer about the changes than I was.

However, Hadwen’s ultimate paragraph seems to sum up the situation rather neatly:
    Advisers may also note that in the run-up to Universal Credit, tax credits will not only be available to fewer claimants, with less help for those who work (whether childless or not), but they will also be even more complex than before. Advisers will need to tread yet more carefully through the tax credit maze in its few remaining years.
A minefield to be negotiated by the expert very carefully. What hope has the rank amateur?

"Blues is easy to play but hard to feel"

This quote from Jimi Hendrix heads a chapter in New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education (Number 128 Winter 2010) written by Wendy Yanow.

Ms Yanow reflects on some of the insights gained by the editors of this journal as they discussed the struggle for democracy and shared governance in the many spaces they refer to as adult education.

Long-time readers will know my difficulty with précis so I don't intend to try. I will, instead, pick some quotes.
  • Understanding democracy reminds me a little bit of learning to play the guitar. It's pretty simple. If you know three chords you can play almost any rock and roll, blues or folk song.
  • When Jimi Hendrix played Voodoo Child it was anything but simple [and all but impossible to replicate].
So, it's simple but …

There is a difficulty in that Americans [and the British] commonly call their form of government a democracy – it’s not. A pure democracy is a form of governance in which all citizens have an equal input not one in which a small subset of representatives create the laws by which all shall live.
  • Perhaps it [pure democracy] is as Hendrix said, “easy to play, but hard to feel”.
And this, of course, is the difficulty when you try to operate a truly democratic process within a learning environment. Those who currently have no voice in the affairs of the nation, the locality or the learning institution cannot suddenly acquire one – they have to be taught. But it does not seem to be in the interests of the nation, the locality or the learning institution to allow decisions on governance to be made by those not in control of the processes!

Make of it what you will. I found it very interesting.