Despite the measures taken by Government to tackle poverty and social exclusion, Britain remains a very unequal society. This is the conclusion in new study by a team of members and associates of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at the London School of Economics. The in-depth assessment of the Government’s record on social exclusion since it came to power warns that although the tide has turned in key areas, there are gaps in the strategy. Its detailed review of policy areas includes education, employment, health and neighbourhood renewal, as well as economic disadvantage.Where Government has concentrated its efforts, the study suggests there is now clear evidence of progress. Child poverty has been reduced by its tax and benefit reforms. New analysis of spending patterns also shows that low-income families with children, who have benefited most from the reforms, have increased spending on goods for children, such as clothing, footwear, games and toys, as well as on food. Significantly, spending on alcohol and tobacco has not increased.
But the study argues that there are gaps in the Government’s strategy. The latest available figures show that poverty among working-age adults without children has reached record levels. While some vulnerable groups have been the target of special initiatives, others have not. And in the case of asylum seekers, government policies have actively increased social exclusion, especially in relation to employment, income and housing.
The study concludes that in virtually all of the areas discussed there is still a very long way to go to reach an unambiguous picture of success. Sustained and imaginative effort will be needed to make further progress and to reach groups not touched by policy so far.