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CSJ welcomes Government commitment to tackling social justice and invites Frank Field to comment.

By Frank Field MP

The last Government's 'life chances' approach to tackling poverty had the potential of being the most important innovation that any government has introduced, since a century ago when it decided to collect the first data on unemployment. That collection of data led to the beginnings of a contributions-based welfare state.

No government anywhere, as far as I know, has attempted to collect data on life chances. The early stages will therefore be easily mocked, particularly by those who do not wish to see any new poverty agenda take over from a now worn-out poverty strategy. Of course the poor need more money, but all of us surely recognise that money alone is not going to make the changes in life chances to poorer children which it was assumed would follow from higher incomes.

We need to encourage the new Government to be open-minded on what it includes in any new poverty fighting strategy. We need to measure how many children start life successfully, enter toddlerhood successfully and, above all, start school successfully. A new approach must be accompanied by a reintroduction of the importance of good parenting, and how it can trump social class in respect of children's life chances.

Theresa May will surely want to stamp her own identity on any new approach to fighting poverty. She should look carefully at the last Government's approach to tackling poverty at its root causes through a life chances approach.

Obesity should be the next big social justice issue as an alarming 'obesity gap' emerges between rich and poor.

By Amelia Abplanalp

The Department of Health is putting the finishing touches to its long awaited Childhood Obesity Strategy. This is now an important moment for Jeremy Hunt to ensure that his Department's strategy goes further than simply encouraging healthy eating, and demonstrates a commitment to the Prime Minister's social mobility agenda.

In a single generation, three quarters of the UK population are set to be overwieght or obese. Jeremy Hunt should not miss the opportunity to address the social issues connected with obesity.

The UK has an alarming 'obesity gap'. The poorest 20% of children are nearly three times more likely to be obese than the richest 20%. This issue goes far beyond the remit of public health.

As the Prime Minster fleshes out her emerging social mobility agenda, the link between obesity, diet and social outcomes deserves to be better understood and given a wider remit across Government.

Later this year the Centre for Social Justice will be launching a major new project looking into the impact of obesity and its effects on the life chances of our poorest children. We will set out a roadmap for Government to tackle this issue and ensure that childhood obesity doesn't simply become the forgotten social justice issue.  

CSJ encourages Liz Truss to press on with prison reform.

By Dolly Theis

One of the most pressing challenges facing the new Government is the continuation of reform in our prisons. The Centre for Social Justice welcomes the new Justice Secretary, Liz Truss' commitment to tackling drugs in prison, and encourages her to continue Michael Gove's radical reforms. 

In May this year the Centre for Social Justice hosted the launch of the long awaited Dame Sally Coates review into prison education and welcomed its recommendations. These included a long-term, measured and progressive educational framework, enabling prisoners to achieve formal academic qualifications.

With re-offending costing the taxpayer an estimated £10 billion a year (National Audit Office), prisons must be identified as a potential pathway out of poverty. Ex-offenders require access to support, formal education and employment opportunities that will allow them to transition back to civilian life and avoid the vicious cycle of re-offending.

Part of this should include recommendations made in the CSJ’s 2009 ‘Locked Up Potential’ report, calling on prisons to change their ethos and training of prison service staff, so that the role includes community based rehabilitation before and after a prisoner’s release.

The new Government is presented with an exciting opportunity to not only continue with much needed reform but to see our justice system become a social justice system.