Starting the Conversation – download it now

Earlier this month we published our first conclusions on the 2012 National Conversation.

Now, the final Starting the Conversation report is available to download here.

We’ve already had some great feedback – all of which will help us design even better conversations in the future.   So please let us know what you think!  Here, or via our email:


Starting the Conversation: launches 9 April

Next week we launch our report on the 2012 National Conversation.

Starting the Conversation tells the story of the 2012 Beveridge pilot, and gives advice on how to organise better public conversations.

We will launch the report on 9 April, with copies available for download from the National Conversation web site.  We will also post details here next week.  Until then…  we’ve been going through our photo album from the York events.


York Convo Public

York Lego Group

Migrant benefits debate highlights need for a bigger conversation

Today Prime Minister David Cameron outlined the Coalition’s proposals to introduce controls on welfare benefits paid to migrants from the EU.  (See the BBC report)

The debate about welfare entitlements for immigrants seems a proxy for the kind of conversation we should be having about our benefits system as a whole.

During the National Conversation on Britain’s welfare state we kept returning to the issue of  contribution.  We found people were concerned about others getting ‘something for nothing’.  Not because they resented paying for it, more because they worried it fed a dependency culture.

The political classes are now talking about how migrants need to contribute to the UK welfare system before they can access public services and support.  But we haven’t yet begun the big conversation we need on building a fair and affordable welfare system.

More on ‘give to get’…

The National Conversation is not about finding consensus – but rather common ground where people can come together to have grown-up conversations that generate more light than heat.

When we looked at the welfare issue in autumn 2012 – and once we got past partisan rhetoric – we found many people worried that the idea of contribution had slipped out of the welfare debate.

So it’s interesting to see two major papers – The Times and The Independent –  publish leaders this week on the question of contribution, and why it’s the key to creating a welfare system that is both fair and affordable.  From today’s Times (£):

Sir William Beveridge’s original idea of welfare in Britain was that help was afforded in return for a contribution through national insurance.  There was a direct link between paying in during good times and drawing on the pool of collective resources in bad times…  The link between contribution and welfare has declined to the point of invisibility and it is understandable that there should be public trepidation when eligibility is no longer in any way earned.

It’s good to see contribution recognised as the critical issue in the welfare discussion.  But it will be interesting to see where the discussion goes next.  As we found during the National Conversation pilots in York, it’s one thing to agree that contribution is a key principle.  Another to determine how that can be made to work in practice.

Building the Conversation

As we prepare for the next Moot (Tuesday, 7.00pm), we’re looking back at our October activity in York.

Check out the video  – Building the Conversation – to see Andy Chapman explain how we used Lego to get people thinking about the future of welfare, using Lego to express their ideas.