As a result of the Banking crisis the Western world is in turmoil still as services are being cut and the vulnerable are threatened. Both inequality and poverty are likely to increase. With draconian cuts in the UK our welfare system is under attack.

And yet for a long time we have recognised that our current welfare system does not sufficiently help people overcome poverty. Far too many people become trapped in a life on benefits and face major obstacles to going back to work.

Also there are changes in the balance of generations The EU, the UN, and governments across the globe are increasingly aware of the consequences of our ageing society, but are reacting too slowly in implementing change. As the world's young population declines how do we manage a shrinking workforce but a growing care and pensions bill? Who will pay for caring in the future? How and who will deliver it?

What impact could this have on the goals to achieve a more equal society and what long-term thinking is needed? And is The Big Society and answer or an illusion?

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