Earlier this week the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) held an intimate reception in the House of Commons where we looked ahead to 2016. The CSJ will be working hard to encourage the Government to make a historic commitment to social justice in 2016. This Government could finally break the cycle of poverty – something no Government, left or right, has ever achieved before.
Make 2016 the year of 'Universal Support'
We want the Government to tackle the root causes of poverty in Britain and to use the 2016 Budget and Autumn Statement to align its major social programmes with its new Life Chances Agenda. The Troubled Families programme, the Work and Health Programme and Universal Support should all be redirected to support family stability, narrow the educational achievement gap, assist recovery from addiction, improve financial literacy for those carrying unmanageable personal debt, and help employment. All three programmes are already funded but now need to be realigned so that they address the root causes of poverty with a relentless focus on the Life Chances outcomes. The Government has been hugely successful in rolling out Universal Credit and making it the dynamic benefit it is; 2016 should be the year of Universal Support.
The CSJ will be pushing hard for 7 big social justice policies in 2016:
1. Eradicate the Couple Penalty: There is a disincentive in the welfare system for couples to build long term stable families. Some working couples can still receive more when living apart than living together as a family.
2. Target Family Stability Support where it is most needed: The Government spends only 1.5p for every £100 of social harm caused by family breakdown. The CSJ is calling on the Government to invest £15 million on targeted relationship support, tripling the amount the Government currently spends on this area.
3. Children's Centres to become 'Family Hubs' : To reverse family breakdown the Government should convert Children’s Centres to Family Hubs which would offer tried and tested relationship support interventions.
4. Expand recovery programmes for addicts: Across the country almost 50,000 heroin addicts have been ‘parked’ on state-supplied methadone for more than four years. There should be an ambition to extend abstinence-based residential treatment to all people suffering from addiction so as to help them recover and rebuild their lives. The CSJ is calling on the Government to fund a new generation of care through a Treatment Tax of 1p on every unit of alcohol sold in off licenses.
5. Financial literacy support for Universal Credit: Serious personal debt keeps people poor. We are asking the Government to align services targeted at individuals at risk of serious personal debt with the process of claiming Universal Credit.
6. Extending the role of outstanding primary schools into critical early years provision: We need to stop poorer children falling behind before their first full day of school. Outstanding primary academies in the poorest areas should be incentivised to set up early years provision and the Government should help the best academy providers into the worst performing areas.
7. Support full time work as the best route out of poverty:
Universal Credit reforms will ensure that it always pays to work. Full time work and upskilling is the best route out of poverty. If the Government wants to turn lives around we need a renewed commitment to helping those in receipt of Universal Credit increase their skills and move from part time to full time work.