Headlines: September 5th, 2006

CALL FOR BALANCED VIEW ON SOCIAL EXCLUSION

 

With the Prime Minister set to deliver a lecture today on social exclusion a leading research organisation is calling for those who shape Government policies to take a balanced view in debates on tackling disadvantage. Lord Best, Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said social and economic exclusion were two sides of the same coin.

The Foundation is due to host Tony Blair’s lecture as part of its ongoing work to influence public policy, including the action plan from the Government’s social exclusion taskforce.

Lord Best said the underlying causes of many of society’s problems could be traced back to child poverty and, although the Government was making progress in this area there was still a long way to go before it met the Prime Minister’s pledge to end child poverty by 2020. “Tackling child poverty is as important as addressing the needs of those with complex, multiple problems,” Lord Best added.

He said the JRF had a special interest in ensuring that poorer households were not cut off from the mainstream of society. “Living in more mixed communities ensures the problems of social exclusion are not exacerbated,” he said.

The Foundation has welcomed the Prime Minister’s emphasis on support to children at an early age but, as with the Sure Start initiative, that support needed to be available through mainstream service providers, including the voluntary sector, and with greater emphasis on reaching the most marginalised families with effective, carefully tailored help.

“We would be concerned, Lord Best said, “if the dominating theme for parenting policy was one of compulsion, labelling those participating as future troublemakers. Targeting families on this basis could prove self-fulfilling if it stigmatises the child. Compulsion can undermine efforts to extend help to hard-to-reach families by singling them out.”

In addition to hosting Mr. Blair’s lecture in Yorkshire today, the JRF has produced a series of independently written briefing papers.