“Social recession” not quite as Cameron sees it

David Cameron today spoke of a ‘social recession’. Evidence, however, suggests that the social recession goes deeper than moral failure or community breakdown.

David Cameron today launched the latest draft of the Conservative manifesto, which highlights what he calls the ‘social recession’ – a new riff on the old tune of ‘Broken Britain’.

Evidence from the London Voluntary Service Council’s “Big Squeeze” report, however, would suggest the social recession goes deeper than moral failure or community breakdown.

Last year it found detailed evidence from charities already dealing with the social fallout of the recession in London. The evidence included the psychological impacts of economic deprivation, compounding existing challenges around poverty and community cohesion.

And a new report from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has revealed

1.5 million migrants from the EU ‘accession 8’ (A8) countries have now returned home; in November, Left Foot Forward showed that net A8 migration was down 88 per cent from 2007 to 2008 – from a record high of 78,000 to just 9,000.

The conclusion echoes those of a 2008 IPPR report, further busting the popular myth that Britain is ‘swamped’ with migrant workers.

Increasing labour shortages and an ageing population may well shape this debate in the coming decades, but of more immediate concern are the links between true population demographics and appropriate levels of funding for our public services.

Much of this is allocated via the Barnett formula, using electoral registration figures as a measure of funding allocation. Many London boroughs have for some time been highlighting the shortcomings of this system on their ability to provide adequate levels of public service locally.

The issue is now being picked up by the London Regional Select Committee (LRSC), who are seeking evidence from, amongst others, London’s charity sector on the links between public service provision and excluded or marginalised communities – uncounted through electoral registration.

Groups such as London Citizens have for some time campaigned for official recognition for the more obviously excluded communities, such as refugees and asylum seekers. What the Committee’s investigation could do however is to broaden this focus, to include those communities on the margins of exclusion – well known to many of London’s charities but poorly served by the public purse.

The politics of migration clearly requires a deeper understand than the surface discussion attributed by the mainstream media. And David Cameron may well be right about a social recession, just perhaps not the one he articulates.

Our guest writer is Gethyn Williams

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