How do we live together and relate to one another? How can we make sure that everyone has an equal chance to lead a fulfilling and secure life? What’s the best way to help each other when things go wrong that we cannot cope with alone?
These are just some of the challenges facing our society today. They raise wider questions about our relationship with each other and with the government, the role of the welfare state, and the quality of everyday life.
In a major new report out today, we set out proposals for a new social settlement. It defends and builds on the best of Britain’s welfare state but calls for urgent changes, because there are new risks that threaten our well-being and our future: widening social and economic inequalities; accumulations of power by wealthy elites; and the imminent danger of catastrophic damage to the natural environment.
Our new social settlement has three goals:
To achieve these goals, the report sets out new priorities for policy and practice. It highlights issues that tend to be overlooked by policy-makers and points to a new direction of travel. It represents NEF’s contribution to wider debates about what kind of society we want for the future.
For a start, we cannot rely on continuing economic growth to produce more and more tax revenues to pay for more and better public services. Instead, we must shift investment and action upstream to measures that prevent harm, rather than simply cope with the consequences. We must value and nurture the ‘core economy’ – all those everyday human resources and unpaid activities that underpin the formal economy. And we must reclaim and strengthen the idea of solidarity: understanding each other’s needs and interests, and sharing responsibility – not just in close-knit groups, but between groups of different kinds and across generations.
Building on this approach, the report outlines proposals for practical change:
Rebalance work and time:
Release human resources:
Strengthen social security:
Plan for a sustainable future:
Seven decades on from William Beveridge’s ground-breaking report, it is high time for a wider debate about a new social settlement that meets the challenges of the 21st century.