We can solve poverty in the UK
Last week the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) launched their ambitious strategy to ‘Solve Poverty in the UK’. Their aim is to ‘make the UK fit for the children starting school this year’ so that when they reach adulthood, they will be living in a UK where no one is destitute and nobody is in poverty for more than two years.
During the event, Julia Unwin, the Chief Executive of JRF, gave a call to action to all parts of society - to government, business, communities and citizens - saying, ‘we mobilised for war, let us mobilise for prosperity’.
What are JRF suggesting we mobilise to do?
‘WE MOBILISED FOR WAR, LET US MOBILISE FOR PROSPERITY.’
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF JRF
Boost incomes and reduce costs
People who have less money and fewer skills tend to be in weaker positions in relation to the market than others. This makes them vulnerable to the poverty premium (the extra cost that low income families pay for everyday goods and services). The JRF strategy calls for an end to the poverty premium and also recognises the need for affordable homes and childcare which would increase stability in people’s lives.
Deliver an effective benefit system
JRF argue that Universal Credit should be reformed in order to make it an effective poverty reduction tool. The reforms would help to increase flexibility and ensure that it provides a strong safety net to prevent people from falling into destitution.
Improve education standards and raise skills
JRF propose investing in education for people of all ages. The aim of this investment would be to decrease the attainment gap between children who are entitled to free school meals and those who are not and to ensure that all school leavers are prepared to enter further education, training or the labour market. For adults, JRF suggest doubling the participation in skills programmes, in order to build digital skills, literacy, numeracy and basic English for Speakers of Other Languages.
Strengthen families and communities
Family problems are a key cause of poverty in the UK and the stress of poverty can also contribute to family breakdown. JRF propose to reform the childcare system and to establish a family hub in every area in order to provide greater support to families.
Promote long-term economic growth benefiting everyone
It has become increasingly clear in recent months that the economic growth that has benefited some, has left many behind. JRF state that our goal must be inclusive growth that benefits all people across the UK. They suggest that devolving powers to local government would help this process as it would increase their power and budget to reduce employment and build more houses locally.
CUF welcomes JRF’s new strategy to tackle poverty and applauds its ambition. In particular, we welcome the recognition of the need for all sections of society to take an active part in reducing poverty. In order to achieve real and long-lasting transformation in our communities, we need to empower individuals and communities to bring about the change they want to see, whilst they are supported by non-partisan, long-term government commitment.
This is what we are passionate about here at CUF. To find out more about how we do this, take a look at our impact.