Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

The Prime Minister sets out her plan to make Britain a country that works for everyone.

By Philippa Stroud

In her closing speech at the Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister outlined her vision to restore fairness and opportunity for everyone. For those in our most disadvantaged communities, struggling with the effects of poverty, this is desperately needed.

Reflecting the findings of our report, 48:52 Healing a Divided Britain, May said the recent referendum result was a vote not just to change Britain’s relationship with the European Union but a call to change the way our country works, and for whom it works. She acknowledged that many people have a deep, profound sense that the world works well for a privileged few, but not for them.

The Prime Minister promised that her government would tackle the unfairness and injustice that divides us and serve ordinary working-class people, taking their concerns seriously about immigration, crime and job security.

Along with ordinary working-class people, the Prime Minister must ensure that her government supports our country’s poorest and most vulnerable.

The CSJ welcomes the Prime Minister's commitment to tackle high housing costs with Help to Buy and Right to Buy and the building of more homes. Alongside this, the Government needs to ensure our poorest have access to secure, stable homes in the renting sector along with providing better support and preventative action to tackle homelessness.

Education is a key route out of poverty and the Prime Minister is right to introduce reforms to increase the number of good school places across the country. We hope these will ensure better educational opportunities for our poorest children.

Since becoming Prime Minister, May has made clear her commitment to make Britain a country that works for everyone.

Along with housing and education she spoke of addressing failing markets, ensuring work continues to pay, an all-out assault on child poverty, addressing racial inequality and reforming our prisons.

In the coming weeks we look forward to seeing the Government's decisive action to make this happen. It is vital that these policies do not forget our most vulnerable and provide the life chances our most disadvantaged communities need to reach their full potential.

CSJ/Legatum Report: 48:52 Healing a Divided Britain

Prisons can be engines for social justice - not just holding pens for criminals.

By James Scales

Almost half of prisoners are convicted within a year of release and crime by ex-prisoners costs society up to £15 billion each year. The current system is clearly not working and it is crucial the Government makes better use of the time prisoners spend in jail, so that they avoid the revolving door of crime and incarceration.

Almost two thirds of prisoners currently leave prison without a job or some form of education or training. Without tangible career goals and the support to get them there, it is little wonder that ex-offenders risk relapsing into lives of crime.

For too long, prisons have served as stale holding cells for individuals, encouraging stagnation rather than rehabilitation. The time people spend in prisons should be transformative and education is key to achieving this.

At this year’s Conservative Party Conference new Justice Secretary, Liz Truss indicated that she intends to carry forward her predecessor’s proposals to reform prisons and put education at the heart of the system. These reforms are based largely on Dame Sally Coates' review into prisoner education which was launched at a CSJ event earlier this year.

The measures include giving governors full autonomy to turn prisons into centres of educational excellence, providing every prisoner with a Personal Learning Plan and equipping prisoners with the skills to find long term, meaningful employment on release.

The CSJ strongly welcomes the Justice Secretary's support of these proposals. Truss has a unique opportunity to expand the scope and impact of these changes by ensuring strong family relationships are also at the heart rehabilitation.

The Government's own research shows prisoners who have no family contact during their sentences are 39 per cent more likely to reoffend than those who do have this interaction. It is therefore important that the Government’s reform strategy builds in effective ways of improving prisoner contact with family members.

Schools can be drivers of social mobility that give all children the best life chances.

By Edward Davies

The Prime Minister used her closing speech at Conference to reaffirm her commitment to grammar schools. And the Education Secretary, put some meat on the bones of this commitment.

Justine Greening made it clear that this is not about returning to the eleven plus or an out of date 1950s model. Instead it is about making schools genuine engines of social mobility that give all children, especially the poorest, the best life chances.

'‘Unlike at present, we will challenge grammars and selective schools to work much harder at getting more disadvantaged pupils through their doors.’'

The CSJ firmly believes that education is a core tool in breaking the poverty cycle. We welcome any reforms that provide better educational opportunities for our poorest children.

The extension of grammar schools has the potential to make sure more children leave school ready for the next steps in life and able to enter meaningful employment.

Greening's speech also emphasised the importance of giving parents choice and local schools autonomy to make the choices that work best for their students.

Alongside these reforms we want to see better school readiness support, the Pupil Premium to reach those who need it most, more support from the best head teachers and improved transitions between education and work.

There is currently a Green Paper consultation on the reforms announced. At the forefront of these discussions should be looking at how selection can best sit as one part of the academic landscape and how we can make it a genuine tool of social mobility.

CSJ Report: Closing the Divide: Tackling educational inequality in England

Government commits to supporting more disabled people into work, if they are able.

By Ed Boyd

At the Conservative Party Conference, Damian Green delivered his first major speech as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. He articulated his vision for the welfare state – one rooted in Beveridge’s principles and fit for the 21st Century.

He said we must offer, “work for those who can, help for those who could, and care for those who can’t”. For those that can not work, he announced an end to disability benefit re-assessments for severe lifetime health conditions.

This is welcome news as the CSJ have heard time and again from disabled people just how difficult this retesting has been as it adds uncertainty and anxiety with no clear benefit.

For those who can work, Green has promised a Green Paper on supporting more disabled people in to work.

The CSJ wholeheartedly endorses this as we will be releasing a report early next year providing recommendations to halve the disability employment gap.

Any government reforms need to be ambitious, strategic and well thought through to make a significant difference.

Businesses need to be better supported to play their part. Almost two-thirds of business leaders have never heard of DWP’s Access to Work programme, which is purposed to help them adapt to keep disabled people in work.

Government programmes will also need redesigning. For instance, while 17 per cent of working age adults in the UK are disabled, only 10 per cent of apprenticeship starts are currently undertaken by those with disabilities. This, and so many areas will need to be reformed if the government is going to successfully halve the disability employment gap.

Green has set out a strong vision for a 21st Century welfare state that will improve lives and make work pay. We look forward to the policies that will bring this vision into reality and to engaging with Government on our recommendations for improving employment opportunities for disabled people.