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Welfare reform was essential even without the deficit, IDS tells CSJ event

Welfare reforms will transform the lives of Britons while putting an end to a benefits system that trapped many people in poverty, Iain Duncan Smith MP told an event hosted by the CSJ yesterday.

The Work and Pensions Secretary used the occasion to reiterate the need for overhauling welfare and introducing the landmark Universal Credit (UC) policy, which simplifies the benefits system and lets individuals keep more of their earnings.

Mr Duncan Smith, founder and Patron of the CSJ, said the controversial documentary series Benefits Street shows how parts of British society have been marginalised and why dramatic change is needed.

He said people should not blame long-term benefit claimants, but the politicians who created a failing system that means people can be better-off out of work than in it. He added that changes to the benefits system are part of a "historic mission", drawing upon the inspiration of William Wilberforce’s campaign to end the slave trade.

Mr Duncan Smith said that one million people have been on incapacity benefits for a decade or more, and more than four million people had been abandoned on out-of-work benefits even before the recession.

He added: "In Government, the challenge has been to act on this ambition and make changes to restore a creaking and chaotic welfare state into one which delivers on that vision for life change."

The speech received widespread media coverage. Read the BBC, The Times,  Guardian, Daily Express, Daily MailSpectator, ITV, Channel 4Independent. Footage of the speech is available at the Telegraph, Guardian and on YouTube

UC was originally designed at the CSJ and formed a major part of the report Dynamic Benefits.

Celebrity culture fuelling voter apathy, says David Blunkett

High-profile figures who encourage young people not to vote are damaging British democracy, former Home Secretary David Blunkett MP said at a CSJ event this week.

He was speaking about reconnecting people with politics at the first in a new series of CSJ ‘good society’ lectures featuring Labour MPs.

Mr Blunkett, Chairman of the CSJ Advisory Council, said he was disappointed that young people were taking less of an interest in the electoral system and called on politicians and celebrities to do what they can to reverse this trend.

The former Education Secretary said between 2010-2013 the number of under-25s intending to vote dropped from 30 per cent to 12 per cent.

Speaking at the event, which was attended by MPs from across the political divide, he accused comedian Russell Brand and writer Will Self of promoting the idea that voting was not worth it because politicians cannot be trusted.

The answer, Mr Blunkett said, was to reinforce and develop the role of civil society and to encourage people to participate more in their communities.

On Labour, Mr Blunkett said that between 2007-2010 the last Government did not know how to spell-out what was happening in the UK or how to respond to problems. He talked about how much has changed for politicians – adding that it would be interesting to see how some of the "political greats" of previous years would have coped with the pressures of 24/7 media.

This is the second time the CSJ has hosted a series of ‘good society’ lectures, where Labour politicians put forward their social policy ideas. The last series heard from 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.

The speech was covered by the Sunday TimesDaily Mail, and Guardian and previewed on the  BBC Daily Politics show and BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

CSJ to mark its 10th anniversary with a host of events

The CSJ this year celebrates its 10th anniversary and will hold a series of events to mark the occasion.

Since it was founded in 2004, the CSJ has grown to become one of the UK’s most influential think-tanks and fuelled a number of major policy changes.

Some of its best-known work has been Breakthrough Britain, Dynamic Benefits, Dying to Belong and It Happens Here.

Christian Guy, CSJ Director, said: “We are excited to be entering our 10th year and want to mark the occasion with a number of high-profile events that will be important fixtures on this year’s parliamentary calendar.”

Details of events will be announced on this broadcast and on the CSJ Twitter feed here.