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CSJ Welcomes Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP’s ‘Relentless Assault’ on Poverty

This week Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP declared an all-out assault on the root causes of poverty in his first public speech as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

The Minister, speaking at the Early Intervention Foundation’s (EIF) National Conference, set two goals for his time at DWP: reforming welfare and improving the life chances of the poorest.

Crucially, he emphasised his commitment to the rollout of Universal Credit, the Government’s flagship welfare reform, which was designed by the CSJ to ensure work always pays. Describing work as the best route out of poverty, he said welfare should ‘transform lives rather than trapping them’.

The CSJ also welcomes the Minister’s personal commitment to the Life Chances Agenda. In his speech he spoke in particular of the need for Government to back family stability to ensure children have the best start in life.

We congratulate the Minister on his appointment as Chair of the Social Justice Cabinet Committee and look forward to working with him in the coming years.

To read the text of the Ministers speech click here

Philippa Stroud Urges Policy Makers to Back Couple Stability

By Lucy Paine

Speaking at the same conference, CSJ Chief Executive Philippa Stroud commended groundbreaking new research by Professor Gordon Harold and the EIF, which proves that couple instability has a significant negative impact on children’s mental health.

Stroud argued that supporting couple stability is crucial from a ‘policy perspective’, but most importantly from a 'people perspective'. Speaking of her own experience of running homeless shelters, Baroness Stroud said that she had witnessed how the devastating effects of couple instability could follow a child through into adult life.

She also said that most people in the UK recognise that there is a direct link between couple stability and child mental health. But up until this report there has been relatively little empirical evidence to prove this. This report provides the high benchmark of evidence that the Treasury and policy makers require in order to fund new policies.

Baroness Stroud urged policy makers to take heed of the findings. She spoke of the important implications for education policy, employment support, and mental health provision.

CSJ Presents Prime Minister with ‘Help to Save’ Report

By Mark Winterburn

Philippa Stroud, Chief Executive of the CSJ, and Paul Feeney, CEO of Old Mutual Wealth today presented the Prime Minister with our ‘Help to Save’ report. 

The CSJ’s work has already had an impact. Under a Help to Save scheme announced in the Budget this year, low-income people will be able to save up to £50 a month and receive a 50 per cent bonus after two years – worth up to £600.

The policy report makes recommendations on how this scheme could be most effective in boosting the savings of the lowest paid. These include auto-enrolment, and a ‘Christmas Bonus’ for those who do not take money out of their savings account.

It also recommends that a Rainy Day Guarantee scheme be introduced alongside ‘Help to Save’ so that people can be better insulated against major income shocks, such as the loss of a job.

To read our Help to Save report click here

Universal Support Should be the Government’s Next Big Welfare Reform

By Mark Winterburn

As Stephen Crabb confirmed in his speech this week, the Government is committed to the continued rollout of Universal Credit. This will ensure that there is always a clear financial incentive to move from welfare to work.

But some people face complex personal barriers to entering employment, such as addiction or homelessness. The transition to Universal Credit represents a unique opportunity to identify those barriers as people enter the new system. Government and the voluntary sector then have the opportunity to provide a coordinated response.

The Government has already tested this approach in a handful of Local Authorities through the ‘Universal Support – Delivered Locally’ trials. The pilots had a particular focus on boosting financial capability.

In our recent Submission to the Life Chances Review, we encouraged the Government not only to press ahead as soon as possible with the national rollout of Universal Support, but also to be bolder in its scope for the programme. Universal Support could focus on tackling the root causes of poverty such as relationship instability.

In the coming weeks the CSJ will be holding a roundtable with leading experts in the field to build a bold vision of what a future Universal Support Programme could look like.

To read our Submission to the Life Chances Review click here

We Need a Comprehensive Approach to Children’s Mental Health

By Oenone Scott

This week we learned that some children endure shocking delays before accessing mental health help.

Last year, in East Riding of Yorkshire, the average waiting time for children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) was 11 weeks. There have been cases of children waiting for up to four years. These delays can have serious long-term consequences, as conditions can worsen while children wait to see a professional.

In his Life Chances speech in January, the Prime Minister pledged an extra £1.25bn of funding for mental health services for children and young people, with a specific commitment to reducing waiting times for those with (potentially life-threatening) eating disorders.

We urge the Government to think carefully about how to use this money most effectively. In ‘Completing the Revolution’ we laid out a number of ideas for better children’s services, such as the integration of services into schools and increasing the presence of CAMHS workers in other agencies. If used wisely this extra funding could make all the difference to mental health services.   

To read ‘Completing the Revolution’ click here

Time to Get Serious on Gang Violence

By Saskia Greenhalgh

The death of Myron Yarde on April 3rd was the second fatal stabbing of a teenager in London this year. Last year, 19 teenagers were murdered in London, 15 of them stabbed.

According to the Met, gang members are responsible for approximately 17 per cent of serious violence and stabbings, and 40 per cent of shootings in London.

The CSJ’s research has shown that many of the young people involved in gangs are either self-excluded or officially excluded from school. Drug-taking among gang members is also high and many have experienced family breakdown and live in neighbourhoods plagued by high levels of unemployment. Tackling gang culture requires all these different drivers to be addressed.

In our reports ‘Dying to Belong’ and ‘Girls and Gangs’, we recommended a combination of measures to prevent young people from joining gangs, including the establishment of Family Hubs to support families in disadvantaged communities, multi-agency support for schools with gang problems, and measures to help those involved in gangs exit gang life. 

Structured one-to-one mentoring, backed up by strong referral routes to other services, has been identified as a potentially powerful way of supporting those in gangs or at risk of gang involvement.

Once again, we call on the Government to take decisive action and set out a long-term strategy to tackle the problem of gangs in the UK.

To read ‘Dying to Belong’ click here. To read ‘Girls and Gangs’ click here