The CSJ is best known for its major ‘Breakthrough Britain’ reports, which identified the five Pathways to Poverty – family breakdown, educational failure, worklessness, addiction and crime, and problem debt and housing.
All of these pathways to entrenched poverty are interconnected and many of those trapped in poverty have experienced more than one of these problems. Through its work in each of these areas the CSJ seeks to move the poverty debate away from a simple fixation with a single ‘poverty line’ and instead look carefully at the lives of those living in poverty and what can be done to change those lives and eradicate poverty for good.
Family breakdown – whether divorce and separation, dysfunction or ‘dad-lessness’ – remains a major factor in the day-to-day lives of those living in poverty and has a profound impact on the life chances of the children it affects.
Too many young people leave school without the skills and qualifications to secure a sustainable job and lead a fulfilling life. This ‘failure to launch’ has corrosive effects on their chances and the social fabric and economic prospects of our country.
Work is the most effective route out of poverty. Yet our often counter-productive welfare system has trapped people in poverty by failing to reward work or support those seeking to enter the workforce.
Addiction remains a shocking feature of life in many disadvantaged neighbourhoods. It shreds the fabric of our society. It wrecks families, ruins childhoods, causes mental illness, encourages welfare dependency, and sustains a revolving door of crime and incarceration.
Increasing numbers of people are having debt problems. The many indicators which provide evidence on the scale of the problem and on how UK indebtedness contrasts with that of Europe all confirm the conclusion that “personal debt is the most serious social problem facing the UK today”.