Breakdown Britain Executive Summary

14 December 2006

Full Report

This report examines the nature and extent of social breakdown and poverty, as well as its causes.

Compiled in 2006 in response to the commissioning of the Social Justice Policy Group by the Rt Hon David Cameron MP to make policy recommendations to the Conservative Party on issues of social justice, Breakdown Britain is an interim, state of the nation report which identifies and lays out conclusively for the first time the five ‘pathways to poverty’ that have become central to the work of the Centre for Social Justice, as well as to the wider poverty debate. These are: family breakdown, educational failure, worklessness, addiction and indebtedness. This report also looks at the unique role and power of the voluntary sector in reversing social breakdown.

Breakdown Britain presents a picture of breakdown which has huge cost implications; in human as well as financial terms. The report criticises the previously narrow focus on a wholly inadequate poverty target and a lack of long-term thinking from government, which has obscured the true scale of the problems that have yet to be tackled. The report emphasises that, while material deprivation must continue to be dealt with, poverty isn’t simply an issue of money; while money is important, so is the quality of the social structure of our lives. At this time the world’s fourth largest economy, Britain is nevertheless shown to have ever greater demands on its social support system, despite such unprecedented prosperity.