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CSJ at the heart of difficult welfare debate

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has been at the core of a major debate on Britain’s benefits system – making the point that in recent years welfare has become a default for topping-up incomes and offsetting rising living costs.

This week MPs voted in favour of  an annual benefits cap of one per cent for three years. For the last four years benefits have risen at a higher rate than average wages. 

The CSJ took part in a series of national media debates where Managing Director Christian Guy said that it is important the welfare system protects vulnerable people while supporting those who can work back into employment.

Speaking on BBC 5 Live, he called for an “all-out national effort” to transform the current system that traps people in dependency and creates a culture where welfare is a way of life.

On BBC Newsnight, Christian said the welfare system has grown so rapidly that according to Government figures nine in 10 families qualified for some kind of support.

The CSJ also took part in debates on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours show, BBC News 24 and BBC London.

Reforms to help rehabilitate prisoners welcomed by CSJ

Plans to give support to offenders who have served short-term prison sentences have been welcomed by the CSJ.

The Government announced earlier this week that for the first time prisoners who have served less than 12 months will be given rehabilitation courses such as drug treatment programmes.

Chris Grayling, who outlined these plans during his major first speech as Justice Secretary at the CSJ in November 2012, said that private firms and voluntary organisations would take over the management of low-risk offenders on a payment-by-results basis.

Speaking on BBC News 24, Christian Guy said the proposals were positive but insisted it is crucial that the voluntary sector plays a major role in the reforms.

The Government has voiced support for several of the CSJ’s proposals on criminal justice, many of which were included in the report Locked Up Potential, chaired by Jonathan Aitken.

David Cameron delivered his first speech on criminal justice at a CSJ event last year. Click here to watch.

CSJ: chaotic child benefit reforms another blow to marriage

Changes to child benefits may act as a ‘marriage penalty’ and risk fuelling the fire of family breakdown, according to the CSJ.

Reforms enforced earlier this week mean that families with one parent earning more than £50,000 lose part of their child benefit while families where one parent earns above £60,000 has the support completely withdrawn.

Opponents have said that this is unfair because potentially you could have families where both parents earn £49,999 each and maintain all of their child benefit.

Christian Guy said married couples where one earns over £50,000  will be unable to avoid losing some or all of their child benefit. Meanwhile similar couples who are cohabiting will face unenviable choices:  a severe financial penalty if they marry or breaking the law if they deny their relationship status.

He said: “This creates a potential ‘marriage penalty’, despite evidence showing how crucial marriage is to stable families and for children. Research illustrates that break-up rates are three times higher for couples who cohabit compared with those who marry.”

The CSJ was quoted in the Telegraph, Guardian, Daily Express, Scotsman and Huffington Post.