Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Ring-fenced funding, smoking cessation, social marketing and slave labour

Further to this post, a planning document has come to light (h/tip Eddie) entitled The Application of Social Marketing to Behaviour Change in Tayside – A Progress Report. It gives a budget for two items regarding smoking cessation totalling £540,000 and two items on social marketing totalling £162,000.

I am struggling to get hold of what social marketing is really about. Here is a very quick explanation using the smoking example:

Gerard Hastings is an international pioneer on this issue, and loves working with authority at the highest level on interventions supporting the official view of desirable behaviour change. An anonymous commenter on this blog assures me that social marketing is about behaviour change according to people's aspirations, rather than according to the grandiose notions of public health. Perhaps I should have attended this conference?

For the time being, Hastings is the only authority I have consulted, and I've yet to be convinced that there is anything politically radical or right on, or democratic, about 'top down' programmes of behaviour change. Democracy is about being represented – not being managed.*

Social marketing as developed by NHS Tayside is about top-down management. It's about NHS Tayside deciding on a desirable behaviour change, be it handwashing or smoking cessation. I would be the last to claim that the budget here was very high, but still would contend that a handwashing policy in a health service doesn't require a social marketing toolkit. It's basic hygiene.

The smoking cessation programme, with a target of 360,000, has got 800 into its fold of which around half abstain for up to three months. Its target is 1,800 quitters, or 2 per cent, over two years. Nothing startling there in marketing terms, especially if the targets are for a three-month quit. But do we really need to ring-fence that money for a very small number of people to quit smoking? Over half a million pounds?

Reading on we discover that the supermarket vouchers paid out to people passing their carbon monoxide tests probably come from Asda, since Asda is listed among the  'partnerships'.

Asda – now where did that name come up recently? Another initiative to reduce health inequalities? Oh no, it was this:
Unemployed people ‘bullied’ into unpaid work at Tesco, Primark and other multinationals 
Unemployed people are being sent to work without pay in multinational corporations, including Tesco, Asda, Primark and Hilton Hotels, by Jobcentres and companies administering the government's welfare reforms. Some are working for up to six months while receiving unemployment benefit of £67.50 a week or less.
On another page, another company participates in the no-work-no-benefit charade – a registered charity this time:
March 2009 was my first claim. The placement was seven months after. [Before that] I was going to college [to learn English]. I paid £50 for it. Then when I went to the job centre they told me: “Now it's the New Deal. You're going to a placement”. I told them my English was not good but they said: “It doesn’t matter, you have to go. If you're not going, we’ll stop your money.” They told me they would stop my JSA [Job Seekers Allowance] so I stopped my English course.
The first [placement] was with the British Heart Foundation. I worked from 9 or 9.30am to 4.30pm with a half hour break. I did everything. I went for one week and the manager was so rude. One day she ate something and left so much mess in the kitchen. Then she says to me: “Karina, you wash up.” The first time I didn’t say anything. I was scared they would stop my money.

My point isn't to 'get at' Asda or the British Heart Foundation. It's to show how companies that participate in top-down initiatives supposedly to improve our health are capable of profiteering from government initiatives to get people off benefits. Again: 'Instead of being represented, we are now being managed. The governments in all the western countries manage us on behalf of the international system.'*

*with thanks to Tony Benn (reply to second question)

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