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Social Breakdown

Volume 552: debated on Monday 5 November 2012

Last week we published the social justice outcomes framework, which has a set of indicators that highlight our priorities: to eradicate family breakdown, educational failure, worklessness, addiction and crime, and to grow the social investment market—a big area for us. The framework will measure our progress towards achieving these aims, shifting the policy focus and spending towards outcomes rather than inputs.

Can my right hon. Friend tell the House how projects supported by the innovation fund will tackle social breakdown?

Indeed I can. The innovation fund was set up by me when I came into the Department. It consists of approximately £30 million of seedcorn funding to enable voluntary groups, charities and organisations—beyond the normal organisations that one comes across in the work process—to show that their programmes, which help people to deal with drug addiction, family breakdown or gang violence, actually work, to prove that concept, and to set them up to be able to run those programmes. At least 11 social impact bonds have come out of this and we have just launched a second round.

Does the Secretary of State agree that much social breakdown stems from intergenerational worklessness? Is he as enthusiastic as many Opposition Members are about the Heseltine review, “No Stone Unturned”? Will he ensure that he takes a positive role in bringing some—indeed, most—of those recommendations to fruition?

When one of the big beasts from the past roars, it is always difficult not to be incredibly enthusiastic about what they are roaring about, so I accept the hon. Gentleman’s invitation to express my interest and support for the report. Obviously there are details in it, but he makes the vital point that in too many communities there are families of two and three generations that have been beyond the work cycle. This is about getting them back into the idea of work not just for the money but because their whole lives disintegrate without it. I agree with him and will certainly make sure I tell Lord Heseltine how supported he is.