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LAST MODIFIED ON: 13/08/2020 - 12:34
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It is an ambition of the UK Government to create a society in which opportunities are shared equally and are not dependent on family background, geographical location or the school an individual has attended. The approach to social inclusion is general: improving opportunities for all. An element of this ambition therefore involves targeting the opportunities available to young people.
The ambitions set out in policies relating to social inclusion apply to all of the United Kingdom. However, many policy levers are in the hands of the devolved administrations, which are responsible for their own devolved policies and are not bound by the policies of the Westminster government. Nevertheless, the UK Government works closely with the devolved administrations to promote these principles and encourage their implementation across all parts of the United Kingdom.
Additionally, there is recognition, across Government departments and devolved assemblies of the UK, that serious efforts to promote social inclusion need a joined-up approach to governance, policy making and implementation; they cannot be developed or delivered in 'silos'.
- The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
- The Department for Education (DfE)
- The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Civil Society at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
- The Home Office
- The Department of Health and Social Care
- The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
- Local authorities (LAs)
- The Social Mobility Commission (SMC)
- The British Youth Council
- Youth Elected Bodies
General distribution of responsibilities
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for welfare, pensions and child maintenance policy. It administers the state pension and a range of working age, disability and ill health benefits, including those for young people. DWP has a team which is responsible for poverty and social justice. Its priorities include creating a fair and affordable welfare system in which improves the life changes of children.
The Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for education, children’s services, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills, and equalities. Its aim is to ‘achieve a highly educated society in which opportunity is equal for all, no matter what their background or family circumstances’.
The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Civil Society at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has, amongst other areas, responsibility for social and community action. See the article ‘Main Concepts’ in the 'Voluntary Activities' chapter. Additionally, DCMS announced in their Civil Society Strategy their plans of creating a youth structure in their department to ensure young people contribute to upcoming policy changes. See article on ‘Current Updates and Reforms’ for more information.
The Home Office is responsible for the safety and security of the country. Their policies fields span across a range of matters, like crime prevention and knife, gun, and gang crime; which also encompasses the safety of children and young persons.
There are also elements of policy at the Department of Health and Social Care which address the wellbeing and social inclusion agenda.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is responsible for creating places to live and work for its citizens, and enable locals to get involved in their communities. Its policies include initiatives to encourage community integration and provisions for housing which affect the livelihood of young people.
Local authorities (LAs) have a statutory duty (under section 507B of the Education and Inspections Act 2006) to secure sufficient services and activities for young people aged 13-19 (and those with learning difficulties to age 24) and to improve their well-being. The 2012 Government publication, Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities on Services and Activities to Improve Young People’s Well-being lists the youth work and other services that LAs should provide (so far as they are practically able) to improve the well-being of young people. Previously, there were duties on local authorities to put in place local cooperation arrangements and prepare and publish child poverty needs assessments and related strategies to reduce and mitigate the effects of child poverty. These duties were removed by the 2016 Welfare Reform and Work Act.
The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) is an advisory, independent, non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Cabinet Office, the Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions. It monitors the UK’s progress towards improving social mobility, and promotes social mobility in England. It is responsible for:
- publishing an annual report setting out its views on the progress made towards improving social mobility in the United Kingdom
- promoting social mobility in England by (for example) challenging employers, the professions, universities and schools to play their part in promoting social mobility
- carrying out and publishing research in relation to social mobility
- providing advice to ministers (at their request) on how to improve social mobility in England, which must then be published.
Its most recent annual report, State of the Nation 2018-2019: Social Mobility in Great Britain, was published in April 2019. Additionally, it has published a number of pieces of separate research, surveys and analyses, focusing on issues such as public attitudes, skills gaps and the impact of extracurricular activities.
The British Youth Council (BYC) is an umbrella organisation, consisting of a variety of national and local youth organisations. Its mission is to empower young people to become involved in politics and contribute to the decision-making process regarding youth-related policies. BYC provide opportunities for young people (25 and under) to inform and influence policies that affect them locally, nationally and internationally. BYC manage and provide opportunities to volunteer, campaign and participate in programmes, like Youth Voice, Youth Select Committee and the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP). Additionally, they coordinate the Local Youth Council Network, which consists of over 620 youth councils. Their responsibilities include, but not limited to, representing young people's views to decision makers, campaigning, sitting on local scrutiny panels, and running the Youth Opportunity Fund.
Youth elected bodies include Young Mayors and the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP). Young Mayors are elected by the young people in their constituency to represent them on a local and national scale, to influence and discuss with local, regional and national decision-makers about issues affecting young people, and to promote social cohesion locally and nationally. Together, they form the Young Mayors Network, which enables young mayors to work collaboratively together, act as a lobby group when necessary, share ideas. Similarly, the UKYP empower 11 to 18 year olds to have a voice. There are over 300 elected members. They represent the young people in their area to local, regional and national government, providers of services for young people, and other agencies involved in the views and needs of young people.
For more information see the article on ‘Youth representation bodies’ in Chapter 5.
The Child Poverty Act 2010 placed a duty on the Secretary of State to meet four UK-wide income targets by the end of the 2020 financial year and to publish a child poverty strategy evaluating progress towards the four targets and setting out future action.
Subsequent legislation has amended these requirements. In addition to creating a new duty for the Government to publish data on children in low income houses, the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 removed the income related targets. They were replaced with measures to improve the life chances of children. The Act also placed a duty on the Secretary of State to present an annual report containing data on children living in workless households and on the educational attainment of pupils at the end of key stage 4 (age 16).
The Social Mobility Commission has a central role in this reporting. Its remit includes responsibility for monitoring progress towards improving social mobility in the UK and promoting social mobility in England.
The current UK Government, (in office since July 2016) established a Cabinet Committee for Social Reform. It will oversee and agree social policy reforms and lead initiatives to increase social mobility, deliver social justice and make Britain a country that works for everyone. The Committee brings together the Secretaries of State from nine government departments. Members are the:
- Prime Minister
- Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Home Secretary
- Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice
- Secretary of State for Education
- Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
- Secretary of State for Health
- Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
- Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
- Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
- Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.