By Philippa Stroud
In her first statement as Prime Minister, Theresa May put social justice firmly on her agenda with a commitment to leading a Government that is for the many not the few. This commitment is reflected in her track record as Home Secretary and in her Cabinet appointments this week.
As Home Secretary, Theresa May was the driving force behind the new Modern Slavery Act which was built from the Centre for Social Justice's report, It Happens Here: Equipping the United Kingdom to fight modern slavery. Because of Mrs May’s determination to put tackling modern slavery back on the Government agenda we now have strong anti-slavery laws that give clarity to our national approach, provide better support for victims and harsher penalties for perpetrators; clear evidence of her commitment to vulnerable people.
In her first speech as Prime Minister, Mrs May spoke of fighting against 'burning injustice':
"That if you're born poor you will die on average nine years earlier than others. If you're black, you're treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you're white. If you're a white working class boy, you're less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university. If you're at a state school, you're less likely to reach the top professions than if you're educated privately. If you're a woman, you will earn less than a man. If you suffer from mental health problems, there's not enough help to hand. If you're young, you'll find it harder than ever before to own your own home."
Her Cabinet appointments reflect her approach to lifting our most vulnerable out of poverty and on to greater prosperity.
The new Education Secretary, Justine Greening has a deep commitment to social mobility and desire to provide the same opportunities to others that she credits for her own success. Liz Truss as Justice Secretary will ensure that education remains at the heart of prison reform, continuing the good work started by Michael Gove through the Dame Sally Coates' Review; and Jeremy Hunt remaining Health Secretary will see reforms to provide better mental health services continue.
Those with a commitment to social mobility have been given key appointments to drive this agenda. Sajid Javid as Communities Secretary is well placed to address the housing crisis and Damian Green as Work and Pensions Secretary has the opportuntiy to ensure work continues to pay.
The Centre for Social Justice has long championed a robust social reform agenda.
This agenda that tackles poverty and transforms the lives of Britain’s poorest by focusing on addressing the five pathways to poverty – family breakdown, worklessness, drug and alcohol addiction, serious personal debt and educational failure. We welcome the fact the new Prime Minister has made a strong statement to prioritise social justice.
In our report, Improving Life Chances, we set out a roadmap for delivering a life chances strategy to effectively lift people out of poverty, provide them with the support and opportunities for progression and success and above all a vision and a future for their lives.
CSJ Report: Improving Life Chances