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CSJ plans inspire Prime Minister to abolish youth unemployment

The Conservative Party has said it will tackle youth unemployment and introduce a new training scheme to help young people get ready for work – a move the Centre for Social Justice recommended in its recent report The Journey to Work.

It was one of several announcements made during party conferences which were inspired by the CSJ's recent Breakthrough Britain 2015 investigation into poverty.

Chancellor George Osborne said the party wanted to "abolish" long-term youth unemployment and would introduce a youth allowance which would replace Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

Unemployed 18 to 21-year olds would be given six months to find work or training. Their JSA payments would be withdrawn unless they agreed to take part in "community projects", which could include work or apprenticeships.

In The Journey to Work, the CSJ called for a similar scheme and urged politicians to make tackling youth unemployment a "moral mission".

The CSJ's ambitious four-stage blueprint outlined plans to help and support young people develop work skills and training from primary school through to adulthood.

In this report the CSJ called for a new community wage’ which would see young people train with voluntary and private sector organisations on full-time placements. The Government would pay their welfare entitlements to the provider who would pass on the community wage to replicate the conditions of a workplace.

CSJ Director Christian Guy said: “No longer should we be content to assume some young people are destined for the dole.

"By ensuring that everyone does something – the ‘earn or learn principle’ – the chances of the next generation ending up out of work are much reduced.”

Also at conference, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith announced that pre-paid benefit cards would be given to some of the most vulnerable people, such as drug addicts with families. The CSJ called for the trial of this in the report Ambitious for Recovery, published in August. He also announced Universal Credit will be accelerated in 2015, with a national roll-out of the consolidated benefit system in February.

CSJ Director Christian Guy commented on the welfare announcements on BBC Newsnight and BBC 5 Live.

UK’s fight against modern slavery will be best in Europe, Home Secretary says

The CSJ put the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking centre stage when it hosted a main hall event at Conservative conference this week.

The think-tank was invited to hold the debate, led by CSJ Director Christian Guy, after the work it did highlighting the problem of modern slavery and how to tackle it through its landmark report It Happens Here.

During the discussion, Christian said that modern slavery was the worst form of injustice and said it is not a problem consigned to the history books.

The panel included Karen Bradley MP, the Minister for Modern Slavery, and lawyer Caroline Haughey, who prosecuted the first cases of modern slavery in Britain.

It Happens Here, published last year by the CSJ, has been singled out for inspiring the Government to introduce a Modern Slavery Bill – which it is hoped will be on the statute books by the end of the current Parliament. The Bill will offer better protection for victims and harsher punishments for perpetrators.

Speaking during the conference, Home Secretary Theresa May said it was the CSJ who “brought the issue of modern slavery into sharp focus” and motivated the Government to act.

Following the report the CSJ worked with the Government to help shape the Bill and hosted evidence sessions where experts outlined what should be included in the new laws.

Watch how Sky News and the BBC covered the launch of It Happens Here.

Secretaries of State lead CSJ’s Conservative conference events

Issues fuelling poverty and social breakdown were examined by Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers during the CSJ’s Conservative conference events programme.

Times columnist Tim Montgomerie interviewed Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith on how his welfare reforms will help tackle disadvantage and his general motivations for getting into politics. The former Conservative leader, who is founder and patron of the CSJ, said the cornerstone welfare reform Universal Credit is going to make it easier for people to enter employment.

Spectator editor Fraser Nelson interviewed Home Secretary Theresa May in front of a packed audience at the conference, held in Birmingham.

The Secretary for State discussed the ongoing threat from IS and how Britain plans to tackle the issue of extremism at home and abroad. She also discussed the Modern Slavery Bill, which she described as legislation that could lead European efforts to stamp out the crime.

At other CSJ events, Prisons Minister Andrew Selous outlined plans for reforming the criminal justice system and Housing Minister Brandon Lewis discussed Tory plans to expand social housing across the country. Former Labour Health Minister Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, also spoke at a CSJ event and outlined some of the commission's findings.

The CSJ also held private roundtable events which brought together high-profile politicians, academics, employers, charity heads and schools to debate how best to solve some of the UK’s most pressing social problems.

Details of all the Conservative events are available here.

Problem debt driving people into poverty, says David Blunkett at CSJ Labour Party fringe

A boom in high-cost credit is trapping thousands of people in problem debt and fuelling social problems across the country, former Cabinet Secretary David Blunkett said at the CSJ’s Labour conference events.

The former Home Secretary said more needs to be done to help fairer lenders because many people are now having to take out one high cost credit loan to pay off another.

In its recent report Restoring the Balance, the CSJ called for laws restricting credit unions to be relaxed, which would allow them to lend to more people and at much fairer rates than high street banks and payday lenders.

Mr Blunkett was speaking at the CSJ’s events programme at Labour conference in Manchester.

Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan also outlined Labour plans to help rehabilitate offenders and slow the ‘revolving door’ culture in prisons.

Shadow Minister for Employment Stephen Timms and Shadow Minister for Disabled People Kate Green both appeared at an event to outline how the party plans to cut the disability employment gap.

See details of the CSJ's Labour events here.

CSJ to host Government Ministers at Liberal Democrat conference events

The CSJ will be in Glasgow next week to hold fringe meetings at the Liberal Democrat conference.

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker will look at the problem of girls in gangs and what can be done to help prevent them from entering gang culture. It is a subject the CSJ knows well and highlighted it in the report Girls and Gangs earlier this year. 

Pensions Minister Steve Webb will look at how his party can halve the disability employment gap and Deputy Commons Leader Tom Brake will outline how to bring fairer finance to Britain’s poorest communities.

Details are available here.

Justice Secretary outlines new victims of crime law at CSJ

Crime victims in England and Wales will be given a host of new legal rights, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced at a CSJ event last month.

He said the reforms, including the creation of a victims' information service, will ensure the "highest emphasis" is put on victims.

Under a new code, victims will be able to choose to explain to the court and offender how a crime has affected them by reading out a victim personal statement, which is taken into account by judges when determining sentencing.

Mr Grayling said the new law will see victims kept informed about their case and courts will allow most to provide a personal impact statement.

The CSJ has carried out in depth research into criminal justice, including reports: Rules of Engagement, A Force to Be Reckoned With, Dying to Belong and Locked Up Potential.

A press release from the announcement is available here

CSJ plans for tackling ‘legal highs’ backed by local councils

A CSJ plan to stop shops from selling ‘legal highs’ has been backed by the Local Government Association (LGA).

The LGA agreed that a change in UK law is needed in order to stop the substances being sold in so-called ‘head shops’.

The association, which represents 400 councils, wants the Government to adopt a similar approach to that taken in Ireland – as outlined in August in the CSJ’s Ambitious for Recovery report.

Instead of banning drugs on a case-by-case basis, Ireland has banned all "psychoactive" drugs and then exempted some such as alcohol.

Deaths related to ‘legal highs’ have more than doubled in the past four years.