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Economics and economic policy matters enormously to all of us whether we like it or not. The more we all understand it the better democracy we will have and the better policies politicians will enact.

Paul Johnson

Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies

citizens economic council

Discussion of the economy in the UK has been dominated by two contrasting narratives in recent years: before the 2008 financial crash it was a story that growth was robust and eventually would solve all problems. Since then, the narrative has focused on austerity, with spending cuts presented as the tough discipline of sound financial management. Despite its major failure in 2008, the financial system remains largely unchanged with broadly the same institutions, regulatory frameworks, policies and monetary system as before. The quality of debate about the economy fails to match the scale of the challenges we face in the 21st century. 

Many people aren’t familiar or confident with the terminology used in economics. Equally, discussion of economics is often shrouded in unnecessary jargon. “Expert” opinions become accepted as objective scientific truths rather than one view among many. This lack of transparency prevents people from engaging in economic debate or holding politicians to account. The result is a lack of creativity where new ideas, with genuine potential, remain on the political margins for fear the public can’t grasp them.

The Citizens Economic Council is the RSA’s attempt to address this democratic deficit through an independent public engagement process bringing together a randomly selected and demographically diverse group of citizens to embark on a journey of deliberation and dialogue on the economy and economic policy.

Drawing from the best contemporary thinking the council will explore:

  • What are the goals of an economy?
  • Who should the economy serve?
  • What are the trade-offs involved in economic decisions that need to made transparent and explored?
  • What new, innovative economic policies can we create that represent the perspectives, wishes and values of the public?

The Council will develop principles for the goals of the economy based on the values and perspectives of citizens, co-produce practical recommendations and strengthen the transparency and accountability of economic policy.

 

The Council’s deliberations will also engage the public in more informed and wider discussion and debate about the goals and priorities of economic policy through social media, a series of deliberative events focusing on economic inclusion, conferences and seminars in collaboration with self organising groups about local economic democracy, and an interactive online training course.

 

You can follow the deliberations of the Council via our live-stream of Citizens Economic Council seminars. There's also the opportunity to participate in the conversation on Twitter #citizenseconomy @citizenseconomy

If you would like to contact us about the programme, please e-mail citizenseconomy@rsa.org.uk

Towards economic democracy

You will be able to read about the journey towards economic democracy in our launch report.

 

The Citizens' Economic Council is a brilliant initiative that arrives at the time when it is most urgently needed. All over the world, economics is all too often portrayed as the realm of stern experts, a territory where "ordinary" citizens must not venture. The very real perils of this perspective have become all too clear: nations stumble from one crisis to the next and extreme inequality is now the defining trait of our economic systems. The best way to bring about change is for ordinary citizens to come together and actively participate in defining an economic vision for the future.

Manuel Arriaga

Visiting Research Professor at NYU Stern and a Fellow of the Center for Digital Innovation at the University of Cambridge

Independent Advisory Group

The programme has an independent advisory group convened to ensure a high-quality engagement process. They have combined expertise in democratic dialogue, public engagement in policymaking, financial inclusion and the role of the media in strengthening democracy.

 

Find out more about the Advisory Group

Prof Rosie Campbell

Prof Rosie Campbell

Professor of Politics, Birkbeck University

 

Prof Graham Smith

Prof Graham Smith

Centre for the Study of Democracy

 

Victoria Waldersee

Victoria Waldersee

Rethinking Economics, Project Manager of Economy

 

Prof Steve Schifferes

Prof Steve Schifferes

Professor of Financial Journalism, City University

 

Diane Warburton

Diane Warburton

Researcher, Evaluator and Writer, Shared Practice

 

Suzannah Lansdell

Suzannah Lansdell

Dialogue practitioner

 

Sian Williams

Sian Williams

Toynbee Hall, Head of Financial Inclusion

 

Prof Ivor Gaber

Prof Ivor Gaber

Professor of Broadcast Journalism, University of Sussex

 

Prof Andrea Cornwall

Prof Andrea Cornwall

University of Sussex, Professor of Anthropology and Development, and Head of Global Studies

 

Simon Burall

Simon Burall

Director, Involve

 

Nick Jones

Nick Jones

Global Director, PwC's Public Sector Research Centre

 

Economics Oversight group

The learning materials presented to the council will be reviewed by a panel of economists from diverse strands of economic thought to ensure balance, independence and impartiality.