Headlines: November 17th, 1997

Harriet Harman, Secretary of State for Social Security said social exclusion is the “big issue” for the Government. Speaking at the launch of the Centre for Analysis for Social Exclusion, an independent unit at the LSE, she said ‘social exclusion’ is complex. It includes adults deprived of work, children deprived of a decent education, families deprived of the material goods that many take for granted. It also includes communities deprived of proper access to transport, to healthcare, and to financial services.She described how this impacts across the whole of society, but stressed that it is the excluded who suffer the most. Families are trapped in dependency and they inhabit a parallel world where income is derived from benefits, not work; where school is an option not the key to opportunity; and where the dominating influence on young people is the culture of the street, not the values that bind families and communities together.

The social security bill currently runs at £100b and the Government’s intention is to transform what is viewed as a bill of failure into an investment for success. The Social Exclusion Unit within the Cabinet Office is co-ordinating action across Government. Harriet Harman welcomed the contribution made by academics to the development of social policy and said that the launch of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the LSE had come at a very important time when the Government was seeking ways to build a better one nation society.