21 June 2007

Your Questions For IDS

Iain Duncan Smith"The social fabric of many communities is being stripped away... We need a system that understands that while material deprivation must continue to be dealt with, poverty isn't just an issue of money; while money is important, so is the quality of the social structure of our lives. To improve the well-being of this country it is necessary that we help the people of Britain improve the quality of their lives or we will all become poorer." Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP

Commissioned by David Cameron to come up with ways of dealing with acute social problems, Iain Duncan Smith has spent the past year consulting with academics, experts, voluntary-sector workers, and those who are feeling the effects of poverty and social breakdown. The result is a report called Breakdown Britain, which outlines the grim facts of relative poverty in the UK, points to the government policies that have exacerbated it, and outlines a way forward that can help people trapped on what it calls the five "pathways to poverty": family break-down, educational failure, economic dependence, indebtedness, and addiction. Highlighting failed Labour initiatives such as tax penalties for marriage, means-tested benefits that can make working parents less well off than those who don't work, and drug policies that seek damage limitation rather than abstinence as a goal, the document claims that the government is failing citizens and out-of-touch with what they want and need.

In our next issue, The Difference will be interviewing Iain Duncan Smith about the findings of the consultation and we want your input. This is a unique opportunity to question a senior Conservative policy-maker about their vision. Do you think the analysis in Breakdown Britain is accurate? Are there viable solutions to the problems it highlights? Do these findings throw light on the real issues?

If there's a question you would like Iain Duncan Smith to answer, then now is your chance to ask it. Post your questions in the comments here by 9am Monday and we'll bring you his answers!


Duncan said...

The report has some compelling statistics that children are substantiall better off with married parents than either lone parents or cohabiting parents. My question would be, how do you encourage marriage without penalising other families, and should we be doing this?

Marriage works said...

Having read "Prisons Need Inner Change", can I add to Duncan's question: How do you encourage marriage without being _perceived_ to be knocking single parents? How do you extol the virtues of marriage without being accused of being "discriminatory"?

The Stonemason said...

My question for Iain Duncan Smith is this: 'The Bible talks much about the need to take care of the orphan and the widow, the stranger and alien while maintaining strong families and community. How much does your vision of Social Justice buy into the biblical vision, as opposed to the modern, rights based, egalitarianism that divides society into narrow self-interested pressue groups?