The most depressing bit about being an MP is dealing with people who face desperate problems. All MPs encounter through letters and surgery visitors the devastating effects of family and community breakdown – CSA cases, anti-social behaviour, drug addiction, worst of all child abuse. Sometimes it is difficult, however, to piece together all these individual personal strands and see the whole, national, tapestry.
Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice has done an excellent job drawing these together, and paints a frightening picture of the levels of breakdown right across the nation. Their report, Breakdown Britain, which came out last year, analysed the frightening – and saddening – state of Britain which Tony Blair left behind 12 days ago.
You may have seen their new report Breakthrough Britain, trailed in the weekend press. This comes out tomorrow. It proposes two hundred practical solutions that will lift up those now washed up on the shore of society. This isn’t just an issue which should concern bleeding-hearted Liberals like me (just checking…). The report estimates the cost of this breakdown at £102 billion each year. Anyone who wants to free up Treasury money for other purposes has got to see the advantage of dealing with this problem.
However, the greatest issue isn’t about money, it’s about drawing back those who have fallen through the cracks into the mainstream of society. More on all this as the week develops.
Julian Brazier MP