Social Justice Strategy: a welcome flexing of the muscles
RelationshipsFoundation welcomes the social justice strategy presented today by Iain DuncanSmith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and chair of the social justicecabinet committee.
Commenting on the report,Michael Trend, Executive Director ofthe Relationships Foundation said:
“At last we see aclear recognition of the importance of families for many of the government’smost cherished goals, and a clear commitment to supporting families.”
“RelationshipsFoundation has been calling for a clear strategy on the family with cabinetlevel leadership since the formation of the coalition government. We haverepeatedly been disappointed by lack of activity, as the limited impact of thechildhood and families taskforce showed. It is therefore welcome that thesocial justice committee is now providing a clear lead.”
“It is, however,deeply disappointing that a cross government strategy has taken so long, and evennow it is not being done from the centre of government which is what we havealways advocated. More could have been achieved if this had been done earlierwith the support of No. 10.”
The difficulty ofsecuring cross-government leadership on the family can be seen in a number ofareas including:
- the lack of reference to the Prime Minister’s commitment to test all policy for its impact on families
- the absence of any measures for reporting on progress to making the country ‘as family-friendly as possible’
- nor is there any sign that George Osborne will be giving clear forecasts for the costs of the social deficit that has built up: social accounting still lags far behind environmental, let alone economic, reporting.
Relationships Foundation will be engagingclosely with the welcome measures to ensure more effective support forfamilies, particularly in children’s early years, and to increase socialinvestment in this area. We will be reporting shortly on how the maturation ofchildren and young adults is best secured.
For more information, broadcasting or quotesplease contact John Ashcroft, Research director on 01223 341279 or 07952 357421or
Notes to Editors
- The Prime Minister’ speech last August 'Fightback after the riots' stated that “from here on I want a family test applied to all domestic policy. If it hurts families, if it undermines commitment, if it tramples over the values that keeps people together, or stops families from being together, then we shouldn’t do it.” The social justice strategy makes no reference to such a test.
- The Conservative Manifesto pledge ‘to make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe.’ On 25/11/11 David Cameron, launching the national wellbeing consultation, said ‘I want every decision we take to be judged on whether it makes our country more or less family friendly.’ The Department for Education now has the pledge ‘the Government is wholeheartedly committed to making this country as family-friendly as possible.
- The Childhood and Families Taskforce was announced during a speech to Barnados in June 2010 by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. He revealed that David Cameron would be chairing the Taskforce. Nick Clegg said the ‘work will be completed over the autumn, and the proposals will be developed in the context of the upcoming Spending Review’. The Guardian reported that it would ‘report its conclusions around the end of the year’. It didn’t.
- The Relationships Foundation’s Pressure Gauge showed that families in the UK were amongst the most pressured in Europe:
o 13.9% of UKhouseholds with dependent children have household debt more than 100% of theirmonthly disposable income. This is the highest in Europe, equal with Germany(Eurostat, latest data 2008).
o 15.4%of UK households with dependent children experience housing cost overburden,the fourth highest in Europe (Eurostat, latest data 2009).
o Wehave the third highest childcare costs as a percentage of family income.
- Family breakdown costs the UK taxpayer around £44 billion a year (Relationships Foundation Cost of Family Failure report.)