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New CSJ report exposes the tragedy of Britain's written off communities

British towns and cities have neighbourhoods where more than half of the working age population rely on out-of-work benefits, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has revealed in a new study exposing how some communities have been shamefully left behind.

The investigation – Signed On, Written Off – says these areas represent an appalling waste of human potential and indifference from the political class.

One neighbourhood in Wales has as many as 67 per cent of working age people on out-of-work benefits – and Liverpool has nearly 70 areas where the number of people on benefits is 30 per cent or higher.

The report received widespread coverage from a host of national and regional media, including the Sunday Times, Telegraph, Express, Daily Mail, ITV and the Evening Standard.

Christian Guy, CSJ Managing Director, said: “People in these neighbourhoods have been consistently written off as incapable and their poverty plight inevitable.

“Their lives have been limited by a fatalistic assumption that they have little prospect  of anything better. This is not acceptable.”

The report highlights how Britain’s broken welfare system and other factors have trapped generations in worklessness and dependency. Across the country, 6.8 million people are living in a home where no one has a job – nearly one-fifth of UK children (1.8 million) are growing up in a workless household.

It adds that spending on welfare has spiralled in recent decades and in the five years of this Parliament alone £1 trillion will be spent on social security.

The report  follows two previous CSJ studies, published in 2007 and 2009, that  shaped the “make work pay” reforms introduced by the Coalition Government.

Signed On, Written Off is part of the CSJ’s major investigation into social breakdown called Breakthrough Britain II, which will be published next year.

Government failure to keep marriage vow is undermining family stability

Backing marriage should be at the forefront of the fight against disadvantage and poor life chances, the CSJ has said this week.

Writing for The Times, Christian Guy responded to a House of Commons debate arguing for civil partnerships to be extended to opposite-sex couples.

He said that instead of introducing a “marriage lite” alternative, the Government should strengthen marriage and recognise the benefits it brings to family stability.

He said: “Given that the aspiration to marry is high among both young people and cohabiting couples, we need an all-out effort to remove the barriers to marriage.

“Begin with tackling the 'Hello! wedding' culture, which intimidates those on low-to-average incomes (where aspirations to marry are no less strong) and fuels the average price tag of £20,000. Deal with the dangerous anti-couple signals in our welfare system ... and recognise marriage in the tax system, primarily as a poverty-fighting tool, starting with those who have young children and who want to make a choice in the early years.”

In an interview with BBC Newsnight, he also said that since 1996 the number of people cohabiting has doubled to nearly six million. Cohabiting parents are three times more likely to separate by the time a child is aged five than married couples and 10 times more likely by the time a child is aged 16.

Read the CSJ reports It’s Time to Back Marriage and Forgotten Families?

Horrific Oxford sex abuse case illustrates Britain’s modern slavery crisis

The CSJ has renewed its call for urgent action on modern slavery following verdicts in the Oxford sex abuse trials.

An Old Bailey jury convicted a group of men of a series of charges, including human trafficking, rape and forcing children into prostitution.

It comes just two months after the CSJ launched its landmark paper into modern slavery – It Happens Here – which highlighted cases where young British girls had been trafficked internally in the UK and abused.

Responding to the verdicts, the CSJ said: “As the Oxford cases show, slavery is no problem of the past – it shames modern Britain and this should stir urgent action.”

“Sexual exploitation destroys lives and creates a living hell for its often voiceless victims. Our research has shown horrific cases like these are all too common. It is time the fight against modern slavery and standing up for its victims became a political priority.”

Earlier this month, the CSJ was interviewed for a feature Al Jazeera screened on modern slavery in the UK. Chair of the It Happens Here Working Group, Andrew Wallis, was interviewed about the report for the Guardian and members of the research team gave evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking at Westminster.

Better to light a candle: CSJ awards will celebrate best poverty-fighting groups

The CSJ’s annual awards – which honour some of the UK’s most effective voluntary sector groups tackling social breakdown – are open for applications.

This prestigious event will be held in November and will award prizes of £10,000 to charities, small voluntary groups and local projects who are turning lives around and transforming communities.

The event attracts high-profile figures from the worlds of politics, entertainment and sport along with charities and local groups. Previous attendees have included Sir Bob Geldof, Alastair Campbell, Dame Kelly Holmes and Jemima Khan.

Read Awards Manager Annette Pereira’s blog about the event and find out how to apply for an award here. Videos of former winners are available to watch on the CSJ's Youtube page.