What kind of society do we want to be? - The debate

Posted by / Thursday 13 September 2018 / Government spending

Bored of political infighting? Tired of the twitter wars on political metaphors?  Had enough of Brexit? Here’s a straw to clutch.

This time next year, as Westminster returns from the summer, the burning topic may not be whether someone on twitter offended someone else, or even Brexit, but the big Spending Review..

As a general rule, if you want to know what a government cares about, follow the money. The spreadsheets which underpin spending reviews are a government’s rough blueprint for society.

Next year’s spending review will start to flesh out what a post Brexit UK will look like. The Prime Minister will hope that the picture looks positive. Her opponents will be negative and contrast her inspiring rhetoric by ditching the promise to tackle the nation’s ‘burning injustices’

Either way, it’s potentially a moment when political life can focus on ‘normal’ politics, issues like NHS funding, the state of our schools and, Action for Children hopes, what can we do to build a fairer society for our children.


Given the stakes, it’s no surprise politicians and experts from across the political spectrum are now discussing their solutions to these big challenges.

There are a wide range of live debates, including homelessness, social justice and education. Some see  Brexit as a moment for national renewal and want a cross party debate on the best way of doing it.

Party conference season starts later this month where undoubtedly these questions will be tackled. Action for Children, for example, will have events on children’s centres and young people’s mental health.

More substantively, last week, the Institute for Public Policy Research published the final report of its Economic Justice Commission.  The essence of the report is that we need to ‘hard-wire’ fairness into our economy and reaffirms the link between economic justice and economic strength.

"Inequality of income and opportunity prevent some people from achieving their full potential, including their potential to contribute to the economy"

Economic Justice Commission

The report then sets out a plan to do just that, which also seeks to develop a skilled workforce and promote public investment.  

Early on, the report notes: “For most of us, leading a flourishing life means having time to love and care for our children and our parents, to enjoy leisure activities and personal development with our friends and family, and to serve and contribute to our communities.”  This is striking  as it encapsulates Action for Children’s priorities of ensuring all children have theBest Start in Life, a Secure & Stable Home and good Emotional Wellbeing.

This report is a serious and weighty contribution to the kind of debate we undoubtedly need. 

In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll be working with colleagues in frontline services and in other organisations to make the case that the spending review must invest in all our futures by investing in children.

The quality of political debate sometimes may feel like it’s diminishing, but for disadvantaged children the stakes are getting bigger.


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