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CSJ reveals seven ‘goals for government’ in manifesto

The CSJ launched its pre-election manifesto in March detailing seven key goals for an incoming Government.

The manifesto, Transforming Lives to Strengthen Britain, calls for an incoming Government to adopt a number of key poverty fighting recommendations on each core aspect of CSJ policy in the areas of family, education, work, debt, addiction, charities and the criminal justice system.

It praises important social justice reforms that have been implemented during this Parliament, such as the Social Justice Cabinet Committee. However the manifesto also asserts that there is still much more work for an incoming Government to do.

Recommendations include abolishing youth unemployment with a ‘youth offer’ for school leavers, establishing a new child poverty measure to tackle the root causes of poverty, replacing Sure Start with ‘family hubs’ to prevent spiralling rates of family breakdown and aiming to have a state funded boarding school place for every disadvantaged child who would benefit.

The CSJ has also called for a treatment tax of a penny on a unit of alcohol to pay for hundreds of new residential rehabilitation centres. The charge would raise a billion pounds over the next five years and create more than 200 new rehab centres.

The manifesto recommends introducing welfare cards for the most chaotic addicts with families who refuse to engage in treatment. This would ensure a portion of benefits are only available to spend on basic essentials.

Many CSJ proposals have already been adopted by the three main parties as part of the 2015 General Election campaign.

To chart the progress an Election Watch page has been created to outline the CSJ's influence.

Almost 140 addicts to every rehab bed in England, warns CSJ

There are 138 addicts for every residential rehabilitation bed in England, according to new research by the CSJ. In some parts of the country the figure is as high as 605 opiate and crack addicts per bed. The data also exposed a huge north/south divide.

The North East of England has just two residential rehabilitation centres, analysis from the CSJ shows. In the East Midlands there are more than 359 heroin or crack cocaine addicts per available bed. The shortage of available beds would be much higher if the number of dependent drinkers were taken into account.

As well as the shocking shortage of beds, the CSJ said that of the 193,198 addicts in treatment last year, just 2,956 went through residential rehabilitation. This means that many beds were likely to have lain empty, often because it is deemed too costly.

Christian Guy, Director of the CSJ, said: “Evidence shows residential rehabilitation is the most effective form of treatment but these figures tell us it is being dangerously underused."

The story was covered in various newspapers including The Independent and The Times.

Lincoln bans 'legal highs' following CSJ research

Lincoln has become the first city in the UK to ban 'legal highs' following CSJ research that identified Lincolnshire as the region with the highest number of police incidents related to 'legal highs'.

Lincolnshire police reported 820 incidents in 2014 in connection to 'legal highs', the highest figure among the forces that responded to the CSJ.

This was a significant increase from 2011, when there were just seven police incidents related to 'legal highs' in the area.

The new order prohibits people from using ‘legal highs’ in Lincoln city centre.

Last month CSJ research revealed that police incidents involving ‘legal highs’ have increased by more than 150 per cent in a year in England.

The CSJ said the UK has the highest number of ‘legal high’ users amongst young people in Europe. It has called for police and courts to be given new powers to close ‘head shops’ that sell many of the substances.

It wants the Government to implement legislation similar to a scheme run in Ireland, where authorities slashed the number of ‘head shops’ from more than 100 to less than 10 within a month.

The story was covered in the BBC, the Guardian, the Telegraph and The Times.

Charities warn against drug decriminalisation

Charities on the front-line of the battle against poverty are opposed to liberalising cannabis laws, a new CSJ survey has found.

A new CSJ survey of over 100 of our Alliance charities – many of them working directly to combat addiction or supporting those with addictions to get back into education and work – has found over two-thirds (69 per cent) would be concerned if the Government decriminalised cannabis because they say it would lead to greater drug abuse.

The poll came as the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg announced that the Liberal Democrats want to decriminalise cannabis.

Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of the charities surveyed by the CSJ were concerned about the effect cannabis use had on their clients and families.

The story was covered in the Guardian and the Daily Mail, while CSJ deputy policy director Ed Boyd also appeared on Good Morning Britain.

The CSJ’s findings come shortly after a survey at King's College London found that one in four new cases of psychotic conditions could be the direct result of smoking extra-strong varieties of cannabis.

The CSJ appeared on Sky News to discuss the findings and was cited in the Telegraph.

CSJ in the news

As Universal Credit began its phased roll-out across the country, the CSJ, which devised the benefit scheme, was cited in Peter Oborne’s column in the Telegraph on how Universal Credit will make work pay.

CSJ director Christian Guy appeared on Newsnight to discuss Universal Credit, while Policy Director Alex Burghart appeared on the BBC News channel.

The CSJ was also cited in the Economist.

The CSJ’s upcoming report on modern slavery was profiled in The Times, including in the editorial leader column and in two further articles.

The report’s author, CSJ’s Fiona Cunningham, said that organised criminal gangs were propping up a “humanitarian disaster” in the UK.

CSJ Director Christian Guy commented in The Times about plans to make higher benefit payments to those with drug addictions conditional on them accepting an offer of treatment.

The CSJ’s Family Finding recommendation from its recent report on care leavers, Finding Their Feet was profiled in the Guardian.

Family Finding is a highly successful US approach which helps locate family members and other adults with a connection to a young person in care who may be willing to be involved in that child’s life.