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A Manifesto for London: will the race for London Mayor be decided on social justice issues?

Both leading candidates to be the next Mayor of London have made social justice a key battleground area in their bids to win City Hall.

Before Christmas Zac Goldsmith published a bold ‘No First Night Out’ homelessness strategy to tackle street homelessness in the capital. Sadiq Khan responded in the New Year by launching an eye catching policy to make London 'the first Living Wage City’ and address low pay for Londoners. Both understand that London faces unique social policy challenges, and the keys to City Hall rest on tackling these issues.

A Social Justice Manifesto for London:

Later this year the CSJ will be publishing a Social Justice Manifesto for London looking at how the next Mayor could implement policies to tackle poverty in the capital.

In our Manifesto we will set out policies to tackle youth unemployment, educational underachievement, family breakdown and housing issues in the poorest parts of the capital. We will also identify new powers the Mayor could call for to help him tackle poverty. 

Boris Johnson has done much to promote the London Living Wage at the GLA and across London, if we are going to tackle living standards across the city the next Mayor needs to build on this leadership.

The CSJ is keeping a close eye on the race for London Mayor and is challenging candidates to put bold social justice policies at the heart of their campaigns. 

The Justice Secretary should extend the Prime Minister's Life Chances Agenda to Prisoners

The CSJ is currently working on a major investigation into the Prison Service and looking at new policies to support the Government's rehabilitation agenda.

Extending the Life Chances Agenda to Prisons:

Last year the CSJ published a ground breaking report looking at the extent of the drug problem across the Prison estate. We found that:

  • 31% of prisoners now claim it is 'easy' to get hold of drugs inside prison.
  • In the period between 2010 to 2014 the CSJ found that seizures of the 'legal high', Spice, increased almost 30-fold across the Prison estate. 

In our new research on Prisons and the Criminal Justice system we will press the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove to extend the Prime Minister's Life Chances Agenda to prisoners by looking at long term rehabilitation solutions and support to help prisoners turn their lives around.

CSJ Thought Pieces

Alex Burghart: Sir Michael Wilshaw calls for leadership to turn around failing schools

The job of education reform is far from over. This was the pronouncement of the Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw earlier in the week in a speech hosted by CentreForum.

Excoriating the ‘botched reform of our schools in the ’60s and ’70s’ which led to ‘the erosion of Headteacher authority by militant unionism’, he pushed this generation of reformers to seek clearer accountability for schools, better cooperation between schools, and, most importantly, stronger leadership in schools.

These were key themes of the CSJ’s 2014 report, Closing the Divide. In this report we called for the best school leaders to take over the worst performing schools in the poorest areas. We also pressed the Government to give Regional Commissioners a stronger role in identifying struggling schools to tackle persistent underachievement.

These are essential reforms. Even in the midst of the ambitious changes of the past five years there are many islands of failure. In Blackpool only 42% of children get five good GCSEs. In Knowsley, there is not a single secondary school rated as 'good' and only 37% of students manage five A* to C grades including English and maths.

Without further change the country will, as Sir Michael Wilshaw says, continue to fail half its future population.

CSJ Policy Recommendation: To help poor schools improve and enable greater collaboration, the remit of the Regional Schools Commissioner Boards should be extended so that they are charged with supporting school improvement and brokering support across all schools. (Closing the Divide, p62)

Frank Young: PM should remember Dads in parenting crusade

Earlier this week the Women and Equalities Select Committee, led by former Culture Secretary, Maria Miller heard evidence on how to encourage Dads to take on a greater role in childcare.

This follows the Prime Minister's announcement that he will be launching new policies to support parents and encourage better parenting. It is easy to overlook the important role of fatherhood in developing policies to support parents, a point made by a Parliamentary inquiry into Parenting and Social Mobility last year.

There is much to do in this area. With the Government predicting that only 2-8% of fathers will take up new paternity leave entitlement the Prime Minister should look at courses such as the ‘Expectant Fathers Programme’ developed by the charity Working with Men or the NCT's 'Mantenatal' classes for examples of how the Government can actively support fatherhood.

CSJ Policy Recommendation: Father engagement should be part of the core purpose of new Family Hubs and included in inspections of early years and maternity services. (Fully Committed, p8)

Saskia Greenhalgh: Corbyn's state imposed pay ratio is not the solution to low pay

Last weekend in a speech to the Fabian Society Jeremy Corbyn outlined proposals to impose pay ratios on companies across the country. The wrongness of this approach is summed up by Abraham Lincoln who is quoted as saying, "you can’t make the poor rich by making the rich poorer".

However, the challenges of low pay remain significant. The solution must lie in supporting those earning the National Living Wage to develop new skills, progress in work and earn more. This is surely a more ambitious policy than simple state imposed ratios.

The CSJ welcomes the introduction of the National Living Wage, having called for its introduction in our 2014 Tackling Low Pay report. However, it is also essential that the Government examines how the upskilling and progression of the low paid can be supported.

In our report we identified that one quarter of workers are ‘stuck’ within 5p per hour of the National Minimum Wage for five years or more. It is crucial that the link between hard work and reward is re-established. We have called on the Government to help Universal Credit claimants increase their income through ‘Progression Plans’, setting out steps to boost skills and progress.

In his search for new policies for the low paid Jeremy Corbyn would be better advised to look at how larger businesses could identify progression routes and training opportunities for low-paid employees.

CSJ Policy Recommendation: When a (Universal Credit) claimant makes the move in to work, they should be expected to complete a Progression Plan, setting out detailed steps to boost skills and progress. This should be reviewed and updated regularly. (Tackling Low Pay, p47)

CSJ Alliance Charity: Yeovil4Family

The CSJ is unique amongst think tanks in having an alliance of over 350 grassroots charities and small voluntary organisations that are tackling social issues in the poorest parts of the UK.

In the final feature in our series looking at 2015 CSJ Award winners we look at Yeovil4Family.

Yeovil4Family works to prevent family breakdown in Yeovil and South Somerset through one-to-one support. This intensive support helps families to work through relationship issues, stay together and become stronger as a result. Their work has seen a big impact in reducing anti-social behaviour and improving school attendance.

To find out more about the work of Yeovil4family you can visit their website at: