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Put 'common good' ahead of party political squabbling, says Labour Peer

Creating a 'good society' needs collaboration and the “work of many hands”, Labour policy guru Lord Glasman said at an event hosted by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) this week.

The Peer, an ally of leader Ed Miliband, told the audience that the “decimation of regional banking” has resulted in a concentration of power and that decentralisation is now essential.

Lord Glasman, one of the founders of Blue Labour, said the politics of the 'common good' must be "pro-business and pro-worker".

Defining a ‘good society’, he said: “It is based upon a balance of interests rather than the domination of any single interest. It is underpinned by a sense that your own interests are served if there is a sense that it is tied up with the well-being of others. A sense of shared fate that can generate sacrifice and solidarity.”

The speech was part of the CSJ’s 'good society' lecture series, where Labour politicians outline the direction social policy should be taking.

Lord Glasman said that for too long there has been a lack of political collaboration. He said: “The Labour, Conservative, Catholic, evangelical and civic republican traditions have not found a decent way of talking to each other, or even themselves, for quite a time but are the sources of nutrition out of which a new political consensus will be formed. A transcript of the speech is available here.

Tuesday’s speech was the second in the series, following a lecture last month by former Home Secretary David Blunkett MP. The Sheffield Brightside MP, Chairman of the CSJ Advisory Council, spoke about the rise of political apathy in the UK. Both events have been attended by a number of high-profile Conservative MPs, including Tim Loughton and David Davis. 

This is the second time the CSJ has held a series of 'good society' Labour lectures. The first was in 2012 where speeches were given by manifesto supremo Jon Cruddas MP, former Government Minister David Lammy MP and Graham Allen MP, who has spearheaded much of the current Government’s work on early intervention.

We can’t pretend Benefits Street is fiction, insists CSJ

Social problems featured in the controversial TV series Benefits Street should not be overlooked as a one-off – but as a wake-up call that severe disadvantage exists in pockets across the UK, the CSJ has said.

In a number of media debates, the CSJ argued that while some of the issues are unrepresentative of mainstream society, it is time the drivers of such disadvantage are acknowledged and challenged.

In a blog for the Huffington Post, CSJ Director Christian Guy said: “Recent work by the CSJ has revealed shocking levels of deprivation in pockets all over the UK. In some parts of Liverpool as many as four in ten working-age adults claim out-of-work benefits.

“In London the working-age welfare bill is bigger than the UK's defence budget - £36bn. In one part of Glasgow, Calton, life expectancy is 54. In Blackpool one in every 66 children is in care. In Clacton 40 per cent of adults have no qualifications. One in 40 adults in Middlesbrough is an opiate or crack user. The list goes on.

“So rather than dismiss the show as unrepresentative or dwell on the problems, we need to find agreement about how we can help.”

The Channel 4 series has created a storm with opponents saying it is exploitative and stigmatises unemployed people. Others, however, have said it represents the reality for many in Britain. Asked if it was exploitative, Labour Peer Lord Glasman said at Tuesday’s CSJ event: “I don’t think it is. These are issues I have seen in towns and cities across the UK and I think we have to discuss it.”

The CSJ this week also took part in around 10 BBC interviews on the subject.

Dementia sufferers shouldn't have to wait until crisis point before getting help

The CSJ has called for more to be done to help dementia sufferers as part of a major overhaul of social care in the UK.

Speaking on the BBC’s Daily Politics show, Christian Guy said many dementia sufferers only receive help once their situation has become critical.

The condition affects 820,000 people in Britain and costs the economy almost £25bn - more than cancer and heart disease combined. However eight times more money is spent researching cancer than dementia.

Prime Minister David Cameron told the G8 Dementia Summit in December that the UK will soon double its investment into research. He also called for international collaboration to urgently find a cure for dementia, which affects 36 million people across the world.

The CSJ has produced a number of reports into social care and older age, including Age of Opportunity and The Forgotten Age.

Last year we criticised the controversial Dilnot plans which will see people’s social care costs capped at a maximum of £72,000 and allow people to have assets up to £123,000 and still claim state support. The CSJ said it was “the wrong priority at the wrong time” and money should instead be invested in helping the most vulnerable who do not have assets.

CSJ investigation into poverty in seaside towns explored in BBC 5 Live special

A ground-breaking CSJ report that exposed deep levels of disadvantage in once-thriving UK coastal towns was the subject of an extended BBC broadcast.

Radio 5 Live Breakfast dedicated most of its four-hour morning show on January 31 to the issue of deprivation in British seaside towns, which was sparked by the CSJ publication Turning the Tide.

Christian Guy joined presenter Nicky Campbell in Clacton-on-Sea to give a host of interviews for the show. A local church centre was transformed into a recording studio for the morning and additional interviews were held with Government Minister Brandon Lewis MP, local politicians, campaigners, faith leaders and members of the public.

Turning the Tide, published in August 2013, exposed how some of Britain’s best-known coastal towns have been gripped by poverty following major decline in domestic tourism over recent decades.

The report – which looked at five case studies: Clacton, Blackpool, Margate, Rhyl and Great Yarmouth – said that while some seaside destinations have continued to flourish, many former tourist hotspots have in recent decades been blighted by high levels of unemployment, educational failure, addiction, family instability and poor housing.

The study found that councils in some high-cost areas take advantage of cheap accommodation in seaside towns and use them as ‘dumping grounds’ to place vulnerable people. This means that services in coastal communities are often stretched and people struggle to find support.

The 5 Live show heard from a number of residents in seaside towns who said they had noticed cycles of social breakdown emerging. This included a much-debated interview with Clacton resident Helena, who described her struggle with addiction. Further coverage from the 'outside broadcast' is available here.

Previous media coverage of Turning the Tide is available at the BBC, Sky News and ITV.