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  • Author or Editor: Vikki McCall x
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In post-devolution Scotland, New Labour added to the role of ‘culture’ by introducing ideas of social inclusion to policies concerning cultural services. Ten years later, with the Scottish National Party (SNP) minority government in the Scottish Parliament, do policy makers think social inclusion still has a role within cultural services? This article shows that policy makers’ understandings of ‘culture’ and social inclusion are vague, general and complex. This has encouraged policy makers to think of cultural services as resources to fulfil wider economic and social objectives. At the same time, cultural services are placed at an individual level, with cultural services seen as ‘generators of wellbeing’, rather than agents of social change. Social inclusion and cultural meanings are linked to individualistic causes of poverty and related to the SNP’s economic focus in Scotland. This complexity impacts on the interpretation and implementation of policy and has resulted in the cultural agenda being seen as less of a priority within the new SNP administration.

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Housing has often been regarded as a ‘wobbly pillar’ of the welfare state due to its disjointed position between the public and private realms and the intractability of some problems to policy solutions. Indeed, we can ask whether a ‘housing sector’ exists at all, due to complex systems of governance, financialisation, policy divergence and overall fragmentation of housing-related social policy throughout the UK. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of housing policy, putting ‘the home’ and neighbourhoods into the spotlight. This chapter looks at some of the key emerging and re-emerging issues for housing policy in the UK through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic. The chapter firstly outlines why housing was considered the ‘wobbly pillar’ going into 2019, including issues surrounding the financialisation of housing. Key COVID-19 housing-related policy responses are then examined in the context of emerging evidence that the pandemic is reinforcing inequalities in housing. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated underlying housing issues faced by more vulnerable groups, yet it has also created an opportunity to showcase radical policy options and highlight the importance of future-proofing housing to be more flexible, dynamic and better quality.

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