JRF Calls for Balance in Social Exclusion Debate

On the occasion of a major lecture on social exclusion by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Tony Blair MP, which it is hosting this week, the Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Lord (Richard) Best called on those forming Government policies to take a balanced view in debates on tackling disadvantage.
He said:“We must not forget that social exclusion and economic exclusion are two sides of the same coin. The underlying causes of many of society’s problems can be traced back to child poverty and, although Government is making progress, there is still a long way to go to meet the Prime Minister’s pledge to end it by 2020. Tackling child poverty is as important as addressing the needs of those with complex, multiple problems. The JRF also has a special interest in ensuring that poorer households are not segregated from the mainstream of society: living in more mixed communities ensures the problems of social exclusion are not exacerbated.

“We welcome the emphasis the Prime Minister is placing on support to children at an early age. As with the excellent Sure Start initiative for pre-school children and their families, support needs to be available through mainstream service providers, including the voluntary sector, with greater emphasis on reaching out to the most marginalised families with effective and carefully tailored help.

“We would be concerned 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.”

To complement the Prime Minister’s speech the JRF has also produced a series of independently authored briefing papers.

The lecture and surrounding activities are part of the JRF’s work to influence public policy including the action plan from the Government’s social exclusion taskforce.