The breakdown of our society in numbers

Last week Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, launched a new government paper entitled ‘Social Justice: transforming lives’.  This report seeks to address the challenge of lifting families and individuals out of poverty in our country.  It starts of by painting a picture of the current state of play and it doesn’t make for easy reading:


• There are currently around 3.9 million workless households in the UK. That is almost one in five of all households.  (Workless households are households with at least one member who is aged 16 to 64 where no-one is currently working. The figure excludes student households.)

• Since 1996, the number of UK households where no-one has ever worked has more than doubled from 132,000 to 297,000 – 1.4 per cent of all households.

• There are 1.8 million children living in workless households.


• Evidence suggests that children tend to enjoy better life outcomes when the same two parents are able to give them support and protection throughout their childhood.

• 28 per cent of children in lone parent families live in relative poverty, compared with 17 per cent for couple families.

• Marriage rates have more than halved in the last 40 years, while the number of lone parent households increased by an average of 26,000 a year from the early 1980s to 2010.


• Attainment gaps persist between pupils from low-income families (those eligible for free school meals) and their peers through all stages of education, including entry into higher education.

• Children who are eligible for free school meals are around four times more likely to receive a permanent exclusion than children who are not eligible for free school meals.

• 40 per cent of newly sentenced prisoners said they had been permanently excluded from school and 46 per cent said they left school with no qualifications.

Drug and alcohol dependency

• It is estimated that there are 1.1 million dependent drinkers in England and close to 306,000 heroin and crack cocaine users in Britain.

• It is estimated that 80 per cent of users of heroin and crack cocaine in England are on working age benefits.

• The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has estimated that there are between 200,000 and 300,000 children in England and Wales where one or both parents have serious drug problems.

• Heroin users are 17 times more likely to die prematurely than the general population – from factors including injury and violent crime as well as their drug use.


• In 2009, it was estimated that around 10 per cent of all households had arrears in one or more of their financial commitments.

• 36,200 properties were repossessed in 2011.

• In 2006, BIS estimated that there were approximately 165,000 households using illegal money lenders in the UK; this represents 6 per cent of households in our most deprived areas.


• In a survey of prisoners’ backgrounds in 2010, 37 per cent of prisoners reported having a family member with a conviction for a non motoring criminal offence.

• 53 per cent of prisoners did not grow up in a household with both natural parents.

• 24 per cent of prisoners stated that they were taken into care.

I’ll cover the Government’s proposals to tackle all of this in another post, but to be honest looking at the figures, it’s hard to imagine how the Government can change this just by law.  This is a hugely complex problem that without fundamental shifts in attitudes and values is unlikely to ever be solved.  In fact I would say it is impossible to solve.  The glib answer is to say that if everyone started living by God’s laws, everything would sort itself out.  It might be a simplistic answer but there is a whole lot of truth in it.  Maybe the real question is, ‘Can we ever see restoration in our nation if we leave God out of the equation?’

Categories: Benefits & unemployment, Children & families, Education

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1 reply

  1. I wonder what the total cost to the country is with regard to Benefits, Health ,Law and order, Education and lost tax revenue That s before you even consider the personal emotional psychological or spiritual cost. I think the key is employment combined with low cost social housing.( Lets call it a home job link system ) To cover high private rents or a mortgage you need a higher paid job, so where the state pays rent the incentive to work is reduced. The idea that the private sector can provide these higher paid jobs is unlikely. Education is important but only if it is linked to real jobs. So many people on vocational training courses qualify into unemployment leading so many young people to be dispirited and lacking confidence. These jobs need to be provided by the local authority for Indians rather than cheifs, ”doing jobs” at the low skill end in desirable (for society ) rather than essential jobs. Tax credits should be maintained to support pre school children and because these jobs would be provided by the public sector the working hours could be dovetailed into school hours / holidays for working mums and dads. There is a raft of community environmental projects than need doing as well as scope for developing social enterprise schemes. The cost in wages for 1 million people earning £15,000 would be £15 billion per year.I read recently that we spend £26 billion on housing and council tax benefit. £4.5 billion on job seekers allowance £8 billion on income support(.I must admit though i have not seen the official figures.) Whilst many benefits are paid to retired people it would be interesting to know the breakdown in relation to people of working age. The major cost of such a scheme would come in investing in the initial infrastructure so perhaps it could be piloted in certain areas.Low wage private sector workers should also enjoy access to any low rent scheme. We are paying extraordinary sums of money to private landlords. If employed you are more likely to be independent of the state. The biggest problem area could be in attitudes to work, the black economy particularly in relation to drugs and sex work, this is where the Christian ethic would be helpful both in helping to mentor and support those people and for the individuals themselves.

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