Frank Young | Political Director
Today’s Budget was the first of three fiscal events this year and sometimes felt like a third of the story. There were some big announcements worth welcoming, but where was the social policy and anything like a programme for social justice? The Chancellor fiddled with the so-called poverty line to ensure that boosts to the Living Wage mean by 2024 it won’t be possible to be ‘in poverty’ and in full time work.
We heard about “human capital” but little about the people behind the term. If the government is going to build their way to a new majority, we need much more for young people in forgotten towns looking for a bright future off the back of this building largesse. The big announcement around Further Education colleges is important and is to be welcomed (it is also nicked from CSJ reports). It shouldn’t be overlooked by headline writers.
There’s an announcement on family hubs co-located in schools and scaling up family support. This is a big step forward in delivering a manifesto commitment, but we need more than a research report.
The government seems to be admirably focused in tackling rough sleeping through building new accommodation to get people off the streets for good. This is welcome and needs work alongside previously announced funding for Housing First style accommodation to turn around the most chaotic lives. Affordable housing largesse needs be built for families stuck in temporary accommodation so there’s a lot to play for there.
Small charities face an uncertain future with fundraising cancelled and donors tightening their belt as the stock market plummets. The newly announced £500m hardship fund for local authorities shouldn’t forget these local charities operating in their own backyard and helping vulnerable people.
There’s still a lot to do for social justice and let’s get it done for the next Budget later this year.