The most covenantal speech of the week
The New Social Covenant
The Unit is increasingly spotting covenantal credentials on Whitehall as much as in the Commons.
Chancellor channels Adam Smith with a twist
In his ‘Mais Lecture’ the Chancellor set the record straight on Adam Smith’s oft misunderstood 'invisible hand’.
Smiths account of the market economy, is not as some have suggested a values free construct which rationalised social choice. Markets do not operate independently of societies; rather they are reliant on law and norms, to generate the crucial currency of trust.
The Chancellor went on to make ‘the moral case for the market’ which he insists ‘rests not just on freedom.’
…the free market creates the wealth that allows us to support our families and our communities. But we need to guard against the market reaching too far into these realms, eroding the bonds between us, and turning a market economy into a market society.
We’ve long argued that markets must serve more than consumer interests, attending to the broader social needs of individuals too. This is ‘responsible capitalism’.
Like us, the Chancellor resists that ‘the answer to everything is more Government.’
So how do we accelerate growth and rejuvenate our national productivity? I believe the most important role for government is to create the conditions for the private sector to do things differently - a new culture of enterprise.
This new culture of enterprise must empower better businesses that serve the consumer as well as social goods such as thriving communities.
Sir Bill Cash MP pays tribute to Brexit forebear
In a recent tribute to the late Sir Richard Shepherd (former MP for Aldridge-Brownhills), Sir William Cash recalled the ‘intensely emotional experience’ whenever hearing Shepherd address the House of Commons.
Cash quoted Shepherd’s powerful remarks in Shepherd’s own Private Members Referendum Bill of 1992.
I belong to a union—the Union of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is a political allegiance which I gladly give. It is one of sentiment, one of passion, one which has been fashioned over the course of centuries. That is to be set aside because the Treaty of Union seeks to make me a citizen of elsewhere. I would be a citizen with a profound and essential difference: I could not control the laws, in whole areas, by which I would be governed.”—[Official Report, 21 February 1992; Vol. 204, c. 581.]
Whatever your opinion of Brexit, political alliances must not be merely utilitarian but honour the instincts of the people too.
News from the NSCU
There have been a number of recent developments in policy to strengthen the family, community and nation.
Danny Kruger MP was commissioned by the Prime Minister in 2020 to recommend how government could harness the upsurge in community spirit exhibited by local people up and down the country during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Earlier this year, the government accepted several recommendations and committed to the following action:
Work with the Office for National Statistics to measure the social value of civil society
Pilot new models of community partnership
Further explore ‘pop-up parishes’ and community improvement districts
Co-develop a strategy to empower communities in disadvantaged places, including through community ownership
Support independent social infrastructure
Encourage social enterprises to flourish in left-behind places, including the option for a ‘match-trade’ scheme
Consult on the use of new dormant assets, including the ‘Community Wealth Fund’ option
Consult on new directions for the National Lottery Community Fund 2022
Homes for Ukraine
The same report recommended ‘community sponsorship’ as the best way to ensure refugees are resettled with access to support.
Community Sponsorship, a model of refugee resettlement that depends on groups of volunteers - often mobilised by churches - to provide refugee families with the help and support they need to integrate and make a success of life in the UK, is already working at a small scale with help from the Home Office. It offers a far more supportive and ‘human’ relationship for the refugee family than that offered by local authorities. The Home Office should make it easier for groups to register for community sponsorship, with more light-touch regulation.
We are delighted that the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ sponsorship scheme resembles this ambition.
The following year, we recommended that government boost community power in the form of a ‘community covenant’ for every place. You can read more in our paper ‘Trusting The People’. We are delighted that in his Levelling Up White Paper, Michael Gove announced a new pilot to do just this.
These would be agreements between councils, public bodies and the communities they serve, seeking to harness the energy, know-how and assets of local communities. They would also set out how local social capital and infrastructure can be built and sustained to encourage confident and active communities.
We will work with partners to ensure the success of this pilot.
In the media
Our co-chairs, Miriam Cates MP and Danny Kruger MP called for the Conservative Party to trust the people:
So what do Conservatives believe? The answer is straightforward: we believe in sound money and low taxes; in strong families and strong national defence and controlled immigration; in our national institutions and traditions; and we believe in trusting the people. Our most fundamental characteristic is that we have faith in the intelligence and the capabilities of the British public.
Miriam Cates MP continues to call on government to better value those that care for our children, particularly parents who wish to spend less time working and more time caring.
Bringing up children is not a leisure activity to be enjoyed in your spare time; as any parent will testify, raising kids well demands time, money, energy, and emotional resilience – resources that are in short supply for millions of families right now.
Now is the time to reform our taxation system to recognise families and the crucial role they play by taxing household rather than individual income and by removing the ‘cliff edges’ that make it so difficult for families to improve their financial situation.
The Financial Times sought to define ‘community power’ by speaking to Danny Kruger MP who said:
We now have much more of a ‘burning platform’ than in that era of ‘Big Society’,” he said. “There is a growing understanding that we need a stronger society because the resources of the state are simply insufficient to meet the need.
Thanks for reading!