NSCU Newsletter #1
Welcome to the New Social Covenant Unit Newsletter
The NSCU places its faith in the tried and tested enduring institutions of the family, community and our nation to deliver what isolated individuals and remote bureaucracies can’t: the safety, freedom and happiness of individuals.
UPDATES FROM THE UNIT
In partnership with other individuals and organisations, we will build policy proposals which give effect to the new social covenant. We are soon to launch the following two new projects.
Family Finance: At the moment, policy seems designed to pull families apart by making the home as uncomfortable, expensive, and pointless as possible. We will explore potential solutions to create greater choice in our system of taxation and benefits so that families can decide for themselves the right mix of work in the home, in the community and in the wider economy. Read more on this idea from our co-Chairs Danny Kruger MP and Miriam Cates MP here.
Community Power: Remote bureaucracies in both the public and private sector have dominated for too long. A more local, more human and more plural paradigm is possible. We will campaign to build community power: the role of local people, acting together, spontaneously or through enduring institutions, to design and deliver the kind of neighbourhood they want to be part of.
In other news, since the publication of Danny Kruger’s report ‘Levelling Up Our Communities’, we were pleased to see the government pursue a number of proposals to boost community power, including:
Three funds totalling £5.17bn for community social infrastructure
The extension of the Social Investment Tax Relief
£3.4 million to expand The Duke of Edinburgh's Award in schools
On our blog, we argued for ‘human chauvinism’: to steward - rather than exploit or neglect - the earth's bounty. This old-new idea advocates pressing on with the next technological revolution, conservatively, and is gaining momentum from within the technophile matrix. Read the blog here.
THE STATE OF THE NEW SOCIAL COVENANT IN WESTMINSTER
Each month we take the temperature of the new social covenant, reporting on both encouraging and worrying trends in policy making across the family, community and nation.
On family, we welcome last week's publication of The independent review of children's social care which highlights how the care system too often breaks rather than builds life-long loving relationships which young people so desperately need.
On community, the recent GB News boycott has demonstrated that big businesses have a sense of duty. However, their anxiety to reflect particular, abstract values might not exactly align with the concerns of Grolsch or Kopparberg consumers across the country. We support a growing campaign highlighted by James Kirkup writing in The Times and elsewhere in the Financial Times to see companies align profits with objectives which are truly meaningful to local people. Check out COOK’s Community Discount here and read more from the NSCU here.
The new Infrastructure Bank promises to finance ‘regional and local economic growth’. The cash injection is welcome but government's noble ambition to ‘level up’ must recognise the need for social infrastructure - institutions of community life - as well as highways and broadband. Read more here.
On the nation, the climate crisis is forever on the agenda including at the G7 summit where leaders pledged $100bn a year to help poor countries cut emissions. But there lies a conundrum at the heart of this global challenge: to achieve the smaller, slower, greener and more satisfying local life that will bring much needed relief to our battered planet (as well as us), we need the nation-state to act, taking steps that must appeal to patriotic minded voters. Rather than an appeal to global humanity, the green movement would be better appealing to the history and posterity of the nations that are required to act. Anatol Lieven makes the case for ‘environmental nationalism’ in his book ‘Climate Change and the Nation State’ which he aptly opens with the following quote from Edmund Burke:
But one of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it amongst their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society. (Reflections on the Revolution in France)
NEWS FROM OUR FRIENDS
Congratulations to Penny Mordaunt MP who has recently co-published ‘Greater’ which argues that we must restore national pride if we want to rebuild public trust after several national crises.
We were delighted to learn that Vidhya Alakeson of Power to Change was awarded a richly deserved OBE for her work empowering communities. Our Advisory Board member Professor Nigel Biggar was also awarded a CBE, recognising his vital contribution to academic freedom.
We were pleased to see The Guardian mention the NSCU and we agree with Julian Coman that ‘The tension between liberalism and communitarianism could be creative, if both sides of the debate were given a fair hearing’.
Thanks for reading! We will aim to update subscribers once a month.
Director, The New Social Covenant Unit