Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) extends its appreciation for the government’s commitment to addressing key social issues outlined in the King’s Speech on 7 November 2023. The emphasis on strengthening the social fabric, supporting families, and nurturing communities across the country is welcomed, recognising that “it is impossible to promote the dignity of the person without showing concern for the family, groups, associations, local territorial realities”. Furthermore, we welcome the government’s commitment to addressing issues such as criminal justice reform and access to affordable housing, issues which are vital for creating a just and thriving society.
However, CSAN, along with a number of its member organisations was disappointed not to hear more on how the government plans to work towards the alleviation of poverty in this country, particularly in light of increasing numbers of families in need of foodbanks, and an increase of the number of children falling into poverty. Whilst it is positive that the government is seeking to look at welfare reform and helping people into work, we further call for the government to consider the deep reforms that are needed in our economic system, moving away from systems which perpetuate the exploitation of human beings towards ones which keep their dignity and flourishing at the heart.
Caritas Social Action Network remains committed to collaborating with the government and other stakeholders to advocate for policies that uphold the dignity of every human being. We call upon policymakers to prioritise the dignity of individuals, strengthen communities, and promote social justice in every aspect of governance.
Statements from CSAN Members
A lot came out of the King’s speech on Tuesday, but the key things I’ve taken away from it is that Our Future Now matters more than ever. It was a speech as much for what it did not say as what it did.
We wished to hear more about the Government’s ambitions to alleviate child poverty, with an estimated 25% of children’s families unable to afford the basics and foodbank use on the rise.
Welfare reform and supporting people in to work is positive, but only if the services exist to support this transition. Easing of the cost of living needs to be bold enough to deliver on household bottom lines. I’m broadly supportive of getting more young people into high quality apprenticeships and improving their future chances.
The mental health reform bill was not mentioned, but improving mental health services by delivering the NHS workforce development plan was. People need these services to prevent them from entering crisis and to ensure mental health services are available to schools.
Reform of the housing market to give renters more rights is positive, but it has been discussed nationally that there are loopholes that need closing to ensure renters get a fair deal and reduce the risk of homelessness for the 11 million people who rent in the UK.
I support empowering police forces and the criminal justice system to prevent new and complex crimes such as grooming, but we wait to see what ministers think this will look like.
“The King’s Speech contains a number of sensible measures that will support efforts to deliver safer prisons and reduce reoffending. In particular, a reduction in short-term sentences and the early release scheme are welcome developments.
“Short sentences do more harm than good – community sentences are significantly more effective at reducing reoffending than a short stay in prison. Equally, releasing lower-risk prisoners slightly early and with the right support, in reality, poses no additional risk to the public. We and other voluntary sector partners stand ready to support this and make it a success.
“Whilst there remains much work to do, the Government deserves credit for taking these common-sense steps to address some of the major challenges facing the criminal justice system.”
Read statement here: https://www.prisonadvice.org.uk/news/pact-welcomes-new-measures-in-kings-speech
“Today’s #KingsSpeech recognised the urgent need to tackle the Cost of Living crisis and help the millions of people and families through the coming months.
We welcome proposals to reform our welfare system and help people into work, but with soaring rates of poverty and destitution we continue to urge the Government to increase the rate of Universal Credit to guarantee people’s essentials.”
For more information contact Daisy Vanderputt, CSAN’s Senior Officer for Policy and Public Affairs at: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 186.