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Use wasted insurance cash to fund charity revolution, says major new CSJ report

Dormant insurance and pension policies worth £400 million should be given to charities to fight poverty and social breakdown, according to a new report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).

The report, Social Solutions, recommends using the cash to pay for a radical new fund – similar to one created by President Barack Obama in the US – to expand bright new charity ideas currently being ignored.

The Social Innovation Fund would follow on from the Government’s decision in 2010 to pay for Big Society Capital with money from dormant bank and building society accounts.

The CSJ, which puts forward a package of social sector reforms for general election manifestos, also highlights worrying ‘cold spots’ where charities barely exist and vulnerable people struggle to access help.

It says in many areas the most disadvantaged people miss out on crucial interventions because there is not a vibrant social sector.

Researchers reveal almost a tenth of people in England and Wales live in areas with just 1.6 per cent of the total number of charities.

Despite being ranked low in terms of deprivation, the Cotswolds, for example, has 6.9 registered charities per thousand people. In contrast, Blackpool – the sixth most deprived area in the UK – has just 0.8 registered per thousand.

This imbalance is compounded by the fact that a third of giving from the top 400 companies is focussed on London, whilst the West Midlands, for example, gets just one per cent.

“There is an army of people out there already making a stunning difference to their neighbourhoods – but we need to unleash the social sector so it can fulfil its potential,” said Danny Kruger, Chief Executive of the charity Only Connect, who chaired the report.

The CSJ, which has an Alliance of almost 350 voluntary organisations, said the social sector is needed now more than ever but is hampered by a lack of funding as well as regulations which hold it back.

The report also calls for mapping of charities so that 'cold spots' can be better identified and targeted with support.

The CSJ said public contributions – standing at £17.4b a year – remain stagnant, with grassroots poverty-fighting organisations in particular struggling to raise donations from the public.

The think-tank calls for greater use of Payroll Giving, a scheme which allows employees to donate on a tax free basis. Currently only four per cent of UK donors use this method and only around 10,000 employers are enrolled. The CSJ says the appetite for this method is increasing and recommends employers who promote Payroll Giving be rewarded.

Read coverage of the report by The Times here. Third Sector News and the Charity Times also featured the study. Read a blog by the report author Caitlin Devereux here.

Nick Hurd MP, the former Minister for Civil Society, tweeted: “The CSJ report Social Solutions is one of the best I have read in six years. Well informed and thought provoking.”

This was the last in the CSJ’s series of Breakthrough Britain 2015 reports, which puts forward radical new recommendations to tackle poverty and social breakdown.

Breakthrough Britain 2015, which is expected to influence parties in the run-up to next year’s general election, looked at six areas: educational failure, family breakdownworklessness, addiction, problem debt and the voluntary sector.

An event was held last week to mark the completion of the project. Conservative policy guru Oliver Letwin MP was joined by Pensions Minister Steve Webb MP and Lord Glasman, the originator of Blue Labour, to discuss the findings. Watch a video of it here.

The project is a follow up study to the original Breakthrough Britain reports in 2007 – which inspired a host of major Coalition policy changes. Prime Minister David Cameron recently called those reports “a major influence on this Government”.

Secretaries of State lead CSJ’s party conference events programme

Social policy will be under the spotlight at party conferences when the CSJ hosts a series of fringe events.

Cabinet Secretaries, Ministers and leading Opposition figures will examine a range of subjects – from child poverty and housing policy to educational failure and unemployment.

At the Conservative conference in Birmingham, speakers will include Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who will be interviewed by Times columnist Tim Montgomerie. Spectator editor Fraser Nelson will also interview Home Secretary Theresa May.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan will  outline the future of the Government’s Troubled Families programme.

Other speakers include Prisons Minister Andrew Selous, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis, Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper and former Labour Health Secretary Alan Milburn. See the full line up here.

At Labour conference, former Home Secretary David Blunkett will discuss problem debt and how it can fuel poverty. The CSJ will also be joined by a strong list of Shadow Ministers. Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan will discuss rehabilitation and Shadow Minister for Employment Stephen Timms and Shadow Minister for Disabled People Kate Green will both talk about Labour’s plans for halving the disability employment gap. Full listing are available here.

At the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow, Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker will discuss the problem of girls in gangs and Pensions Minister Steve Webb will talk about disability and employment. Full listings for the Lib Dem conference are available here.

Details of all the speakers can be accessed here.