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ResPublica has launched its Social Reform programme to overcome the defining political issue of our time: the great divides of wealth and power across the nation. These are driving damaging populist movements in our public life, but they are also having more profound and lasting impacts on families and communities, depriving people in all parts of the country of the chance to flourish.
We believe that existing approaches to these challenges have not worked. In the case of economic inequality, the problem has been seen through the wrong end of the lens – as redistribution has been pursued, inequalities in asset ownership have doubled. And strategies to address economic exclusion delivered from the centre have failed to take account of a key determinant: place. At the same time, localism and devolution have been unable to keep up with growing political divisions, and have so far failed to empower people and communities.
Our framework for social reform is based on three strands: Home, Community and Culture. Only a place-based approach, focused on assets and delivered with rather than to communities, will heal the profound divisions in British society. Through our Social Reform programme, ResPublica will provide policy-makers with the insight and tools to do so.
An affordable, secure, and comfortable home is a foundational block of any good life. The crisis in housing is so profound because it has put basic, shared aspirations in great peril. A shortage of suitable, affordable homes where they are needed makes it harder to find meaningful employment, have a happy and lasting relationship, raise children and have a secure retirement.
In increasingly depriving a generation of the hope of owning their own home, it has contributed to great divides in wealth and has diminished community life in our cities, towns and villages.
That is why Home is a pillar of our Social Reform programme. Our approach covers three themes: building the homes we need; opening routes to ownership; and the renaissance of place. We are looking for partners who share our ambitions for housing and social reform to work with us on the following topics:
Underlying the political upheaval of recent years is the belief among many communities that they have been cut off from the wider country. Diverging education and health outcomes sit alongside economic divisions, and our politics leaves too many people feeling powerless to influence their lives and the place where they live.
Building on the Prime Minister’s vision of the “shared society”, we believe more needs to be done to narrow the gaps between different parts of the UK, focusing on social as well as financial inequalities. Public policy should aim to create strong, vibrant communities where civil society can contribute to a sustainable national social, economic and cultural settlement, and ensure no community feels left behind in post-Brexit Britain.
Within this programme, our areas of focus will be education, public service reform, placemaking and community assets, and health and social care. We would be particularly interested to hear from organisations interested to partner with us on the following topics:
Culture, the arts and creative industries are vital to economic prosperity and social reform. Too often, culture is overlooked by policy-makers as they seek, wrongly, to achieve short-term fixes to long-term challenges. We believe that recognising and revitalising cultural identity must be central to Government’s vision for the future.
Culture is community, because it is part of all of us. It defines both person and place. It shapes our identity both individually and collectively. Yet this understanding of culture can be lost in public policy, despite the fact that our country still faces significant challenges of inequality and social fragmentation.
Culture is also creativity. The UK’s creative sector is the largest in the European Union, and in terms of GDP, the largest in the world. From our curators and directors to our publishers and designers, Britain is rightly recognised as an international leader in the creative industries. We believe that such leadership should be reinforced and advanced, particularly as we exit from the EU and find our feet on the world stage.
Culture is economy. It is more than museums, galleries and film. Sole traders and small businesses represent the majority of this market, fuelling entrepreneurialism and local economic growth. As this Government sets out its new Industrial Strategy, we believe that our designers and makers must be at its heart.
Dr. James Noyes is Head of Policy and Strategy at ResPublica. Prior to joining our team, he was a lecturer at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po). James has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, and is...
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