Jim Murphy – 2012 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Murphy, the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, to Labour Party conference on 1st October 2012.

Good morning.

The conference season marks autumn for many, and what an incredible summer we had. We all have our favourite moment from the summer of sport and London 2012, but I want to start by thanking a group who performed brilliantly this summer.

Some of them with the dust of Afghanistan still in their boots. Men and women with a quiet humility and a pride in their country. We should thank the 17,000 members of the UK Armed Forces who served so that in safety the athletes could compete and we could celebrate.

This year our country has lost 39 service personnel in Afghanistan.

Today there remain almost 10,000 of our service personnel in Afghanistan. Each of them and their families should be in our thoughts. Their efforts are about the Afghan people having the lives and livelihoods they deserve – free from the tyranny of the Taliban, part of a global economy, and a country at peace with its neighbours.

But a distant warning bell should ring ever more loudly with each passing month where there isn’t a political process to match the military might of the past decade. That must be our focus, and we look forward to the day when we can welcome the last of our Forces home as heroes.

Afghanistan remains the UK’s defence priority in a world of profound uncertainty, where unstable states outnumber stable countries two to one.

What has been the Government’s response?

A defence posture without a strategy.

Service personnel sacked just days before collecting their pension.

And who could forget the aircraft carrier chaos?

Only this Government would build two carriers, mothball one, sell our Harrier fleet and have no planes to fly off a carrier for almost a decade.

At each election the Conservatives stand on a platform of ‘government doesn’t work’. Judging by their actions they seem hell-bent on proving their claim.

And what will we hear from them next week? No doubt we will get the same old blame game. But it won’t work because let’s be clear: two-and-a-half years into their Government and in the absence of a defence strategy it just isn’t good enough having a catch-all slogan of “it’s not my fault”.

And what of the Lib Dems? I remember a Lib Dem MP complaining to me at the last election that they couldn’t get votes because the public didn’t know what they stood for. Well say what you want about the Lib Dems but that’s certainly one achievement in Government – never again will they ever lose votes because people don’t know what they stand for: it’s any power over all principle.

As for the SNP, they want to debate how many questions there will be in the referendum because they can’t decide on many of the answers about independence. It’s time for them to come clean about their plans because when it comes to defence, separation is a powerful idea from the 19th century ill-suited to the 21st century.

What does this mean for Labour? We face an enormous challenge from a Tory Party that is born to rule and the Lib Dems determined not to die.

The task for Labour is not just relentless attack – it’s responsible answers.

In opposition we must deal with the issues we would if we were in power.

That is why the Shadow Defence team have been clear about the need for defence savings.

And that is why with a future Labour Government defence spending will be subject to independent expert review. We will account for and justify our spending decisions. No smoke and mirrors, no delay in tough decisions, and a culture of consequence. A defence budget policy alongside a defence industrial strategy that celebrates and supports the 300,000 British workers who do so much to contribute to the defence of our nation.

But while politics is about highlighting differences it is also about making a difference, and while we are out of office we are not without power.

That is why we started a national campaign to end discrimination against our Armed Forces, to strengthen the Covenant and to support veterans’ carers.

Our country is brilliant at turning civilians into soldiers, but we are not good enough when the time comes to turning soldiers back into civilians. Finding work is so important and that’s why we launched the Veterans’ Interview Programme. All answers don’t come from the inside of a Ministerial red box – they can come from our instincts and our values and that’s why I’m delighted that Labour in opposition has signed up some of the biggest companies in the country to guarantee job interviews to unemployed veterans. It is simply wrong for anyone who has served in Afghanistan and comes back to a public parade and heroes’ welcome to be sacked by their Government almost immediately and then be expected to simply join the back of the queue at the local Jobcentre. It’s unfair and it’s wrong. It shouldn’t happen and under the next Labour Government it won’t.

But our task it not just about developing policy, it’s also about changing our Party.

At last year’s conference we agreed the creation of Labour Friends of the Forces, a group to campaign to strengthen the bond between our Party and the Forces.

Then, four patrons joined me on stage. Today I can announce that we now have almost 700 members.

And you’ll remember that together we agreed that we would be the only Party ever to offer a £1 membership for serving and former members of our Armed Forces. I’m delighted to confirm that a fantastic 406 current or former Forces have joined the Labour Party this year.

More than 1,000 new military members and supporters but that’s still not enough. Our commitment to the service community has always been core to our values – now we want it to be part of our Party’s DNA.

Today I can announce that the Labour Party is the first and only party to ensure that our procedures are now in line with the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant. The sacrifice of service will not be a barrier to clear but a badge to be honoured in our movement and no Labour Party member will be disadvantaged as a result of service in the Armed Forces.

Conference, we do all of this because we are idealists. We believe in the utility of service.

Ours is a patriotism that pre-dates the Olympics.

We believe in solidarity with those who have served our country.

Our Forces are central to our national security and to our national character. Let us each make it clear that they are crucial to the future of our Party too.

Jim Murphy – 2012 Speech to Reform Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Murphy, the Shadow Defence Secretary, to the Reform Conference on 21st November 2012.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak to you today. Reform is a home for strategic thinking and intellectual curiosity and this event is certainly in that spirit.

My argument today is that value for money and prioritising affordability in defence should not just be viewed as a response to recent events, but rather essential components of a sustainable and deliverable defence posture.

But I also want to argue that affordability alone is not enough, and that in defence a drive for advanced Armed Forces, maximising high skills, technology and international partnering, is also vital.

This approach, to design an advanced and affordable defence posture, combining constrained spending with far reaching reform, will be Labour’s focus in coming months.

Action to date

During our period of Opposition we have sought to lay the foundations of our work.

Our independent review on defence procurement looked at ways to deliver programmes to time and to cost and will provide the basis of our thinking on defence industrial policy.

Our wider shadow defence review is analysing the threat environment and key capability fields required for a future core equipment programme. This will lead to a more detailed look at Force structures.


The security context in which this work is taking place is transformative.

New threats are matched by new technologies, uncertainty equalled only by unpredictability.

Fifteen years ago it would have been hard to believe that we would experience September 11th, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Arab Spring. Forecasting forthcoming years is arguably more difficult. Today energy security, climate change, demographic shifts and the spread of CBRN materials are threats alongside state-on-state warfare or contorted religiously-inspired terrorism.

The growing strength of Al Qaeda in parts of Africa, the rise of new powers in Asia Pacific, weak states outnumbering stable states by two to one and new threats in cyberspace all consume our attention.

In this context the UK must aim to have flexible Forces with whole spectrum capabilities, able to respond rapidly whether through preventative measures, reactive disaster relief or multilateral interventions.

Value for money: the challenge

And these external threats exist in a volatile financial climate in which defence spending is set to increase over the medium term at a lower rate than it did during the last Government’s period in office.

The ambition we have for our Forces is an extension of the ambition we have for our country, but to be realised it must be affordable, and that means we are going to have to do things differently.

The previous Government’s record on defence is strong and we are proud that we increased the Defence budget by 10% in real terms during our time in office. The equipment programme was upgraded and modernised, military operations were conducted with success and welfare for the forces community was greatly enhanced. However, despite all the investment and improvements, during our time in office some of the procurement problems which plagued successive administrations were not sufficiently tackled.

The global economic downturn means the majority of the UK’s allies are making spending cuts across their public sectors, with unavoidable consequences for capability and global reach.

In the UK the challenge has become more acute because decisions taken by this Government haven’t stimulated domestic growth and UK austerity is set to be extended.

In short, budgetary restraint is unavoidable, however undesirable.


But if the size of the defence budget is an expression of our nation’s ambitions, the profile of the budget is an expression of our priorities.

For us the priorities are clear.

Carrier strike and improved ISTAR are vital.

Strategic warning capabilities and intelligence will be essential to provide early indicators of threats and potential crises.

Two state of the art fighter fleets, advanced unmanned vehicles supporting all three Services and strategic air lift are also key components.

Skills must be a strategic capability. We need highly trained service personnel able to use higher technology platforms; Reservists using niche civilian skills in military con texts; advanced special forces; a high skilled, broad-based defence industry; and expertise throughout acquisition.

In most conflicts, even counter-insurgency, the edge can be found through technology, which can help minimise casualties while extending global reach. Remote surveillance, manoeuvrability in cyberspace, better communications and acting at distance with accuracy are all necessary features of our future force.

But alongside this must be a greater focus on international alliance-building. Shared threats and financial challenges demand that we pool resource and expertise. The UK-France accord may lay the ground for a landscape of multiple discrete bilateral or regional arrangements between European nations. More widely, NATO is the primary military grouping through which action will be taken, and Europe’s focus should be on greater deployability and burden sharing within the Alliance, not on new EU Headquarters for a joint force the UK will continue to oppose. As the US pivots – and I say this as someone who takes a positive view of our role in the EU – it is vital that European nations work together towards meeting military objectives, not naval gazing on our own structures.

Furthermore, European NATO nations are making deep cuts to defence budgets in isolation of each other, the aggregate consequence of which could be cross-Alliance shortfalls or duplication – Forces by default rather than design. ‘Smart defence’ in Nato must become a reality.

Our defence posture today is also challenged by an internal force we don’t talk about enough, which our domestic public opinion. The public is wary and weary of interventionism following recent conflicts and the financial crisis. There is a risk of a growing ambivalence towards acting on responsibilities beyond our borders, but we cannot let the legacy of Iraq be increased potential for another Rwanda. We must make the case for strong, proactive defence postures, in t urn redefining the nature of interventionism.

Our goal should be prevention before intervention and early intervention before conflict. The careful prevention of development policy and diplomacy can be more effective than the painful cure of military action. Whether in tackling climate change, investing in civil society and governance, or diplomatic engagement, the spectrum of soft power capabilities at the UK’s disposal to defend our interests and promote our ideas in the world should be capitalised on.


An enduring priority for Labour will also be supporting our service personnel and their families.

Ed Miliband has spoken about Labour’s One Nation approach to developing a country where everybody has a stake and where we protect the institutions that bind us together. I don’t want to engage you in a debate about one nation politics except to say that on whatever side of the fence you sit, or indeed if you sit on the political fence, upholding the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant is the embodiment of one nation politics. Service is an act of solidarity. We must strengthen the support to those who go to the frontline as well as the bond between the service community and country at large.

We have begun to lay out new proposals in this area. Our country is brilliant at turning civilians into soldiers, but we are not good enough when the time comes to turning soldiers back into citizens. That is why we started the Veterans’ Interview Programme, which has signed up 22 major UK companies to change their HR programmes, including by offering guaranteed interviews, to support service-leavers in finding employment. We want to increase opportunity as a means of smoothing the transition from military to civilian life. Similarly, Labour has argued for legislation to protect veterans from discrimination and for greater support for service carers and orphaned service children. The principles of the Cove nant, we believe, are there for us all to uphold – whether in politics, business, civil society or the Forces.

Government record

In defence our task is to ensure there is no imbalance between projected expenditure and affordability on an enduring basis and that Planning Assumptions are met through advanced Armed Forces.

Ministers may claim that this has been achieved.

There are, however, worries over capability gaps following the defence review, notably in surveillance and carrier strike; the impact of civilian and military skills shortages is unclear; Planning Assumptions now rely an increase in Reservists yet plans are under-developed at best; and only half of the MoD budget is claimed to be balanced yet we have seen no evidence that this is the case.

Labour’s approach

Labour’s approach, by contrast, will combine savings and strategy to match the needs of the frontline to those of the bottom line.

I want to outline to you our emerging thinking on how to strengthen affordability in defence to help deliver advanced Armed Forces, and there are six main areas I want to touch on.

First, we are open about fiscal restraint and the choices that necessitates.

Second, a future SDSR would take a zero-based approach, ensuring every penny is accounted for.

Third, we want to instil a new discipline in defence spending, ending the habit of ‘pushing to the right’, and I will set out how we plan to do this.

Fourth, we want increased, real-time scrutiny of ten-year budgets, with increased accountability.

Fifth, we would reform of procurement practice so more projects are delivered to time and cost.

And, lastly, we would work with industry to design a fresh defence industrial strategy which supports sovereign capabilities and exportability.

Labour cannot make commitments now as to which cuts in defence spending if any we would be able to reverse.

Some decisions we simply could not reverse, for example the loss of Nimrod. Some cuts we wouldn’t reverse because we agree with them, which is why the Shadow Defence Team has been clear about where we would make multi-billion pound savings if in government, including in reform to MoD structures and personnel, the equipment programme, selling assets and reform of the Army’s non-deployable regional structure.

So while there are some we wouldn’t and some we shouldn’t, for other cuts the Government has made we are simply unable to make commitments now because we are not in a position to know what the health of the finances will be in 2015. In the same way that families and businesses worry about the uncertainty of their future financial stability and spending power, so too do all policy-makers.

Not knowing the state of the books in 2015 means we cannot guarantee which of the current government cuts we could reverse, other than through switching existing spendin g or freeing up resources through reform. That is why, for example, we have urged the Government to go further in tackling ‘top heavy’ manpower imbalances and suggested using a portion of the savings to research veterans’ mental health.

We can commit, however, to a Labour government being determinedly disciplined on public spending. We have made it clear that we will hold a zero based spending review, and as part of that approach a Labour SDSR would examine which capabilities could meet our global objectives in line with our financial requirements, questioning and justifying every penny piece of expenditure.

New discipline

And we would go further.

We support the principle of a ten year defence budget with in-built contingency being verified by the National Audit Office. Because this would reach across two Parliaments some may think that this comes close to one Government seeking to bind its successor. This is not the case. A new Government would of course be free to alter the budget, but what I hope would be more likely is that in formulating a decade-long budget a sense of bipartisanship would be encouraged with both Government and Opposition entering into the process.

Within this, Labour would introduce a new discipline in defence spending and would abide by the principle that any increase in cost and expenditure resulting from decisions made in a Planning Round would have to be accounted for across the rolling ten year MoD budget cycle, either through savings or increased revenue. Decisions could not be routinely deferred, creating a bow wave in the budget.

By challenging the MoD’s habit of ‘pushing to the right’ as a short-term fix for in-year savings we would help to prevent against imbalances between the bottom line and the order book.

Under our plan, the NAO would report on the outcome of each Planning Round and judge whether the Core Equipment Programme remained affordable and deliv erable.

The report would include an MoD justification of its decisions and the Defence Secretary would present it to Parliament.

I share Education Secretary Michael Gove’s frustration that the current culture of the NAO and PAC reporting can limit risk, but I don’t share his conclusion. I want to change structures and increase accountability. Real-time reporting with a right of reply for the MoD will allow those with ownership of decisions to explain their actions, which we hope will both increase openness and end a retrospective blame game which can be corrosive to trust and policy-making.

Levene report

This enhanced financial rigour would be coupled with an embrace of many of the Levene proposals. We support, for example, empowering the Service Chiefs to run their Services with greater freedom with a focus on financial accountability, just as we must ensure enabling services such as the DIO are delivered efficiently and professionally.

Economic contribution of defence and Scotland

But while these moves are vital, we believe that the UK will be unable to deliver strategic military goals without wider reform of procurement and industrial policy.

And this is essential not just for defence but for our economy. It is estimated that the UK defence industry employs over 300,000 people and generates over £35 billion per year to the UK economy.

In Scotland the largest single workplace is Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde at Faslane, which employs around 6,500 people. The 4,500 strong workforce at shipyards in Glasgow and Rosyth are sustained by MOD work. Independence would shut these yards, an act of economic vandalism putting families’ futures at risk, not just Scottish security.

Procurement and industrial strategy

While the Government emphasises buying off the shelf as its ‘default’ position, we want to use procurement power to provide certainty, support supply chains, increase transparency and to establish an active industrial strategy in partnership with business. Within this there is a trade off: on the one hand government must provide clear strategic direction, and in return industry must deliver on agreements.

We believe the Government could be more explicit in the capabilities it intends to purchase off the shelf and those it regards as ‘sovereign’. And we are examining whether ‘Off-the-shelf’ purchases should be subject to a ‘UK control’ test that states there must be UK-based upgrade capability to perform UORs.

When an effective market exists competition is of course the best procurement policy. However, the fact is that there is seldom a viable market for major defence projects. It is right that we explore how certain value for money tests could include wider employment, industrial or economic factors, something the MoD has rejected. This is complex, but given the social a nd economic impact of defence procurement it should be looked at on a cross-Departmental basis.

Defence decision-making could be made more transparent through the MoD publishing the cost-benefit analysis which provided the basis for awarding contracts, while respecting commercial sensitivities and any classified security issues. This would also add greater accountability to the senior civil service, something exposed as necessary during the West Coast Main Line fiasco.

A culture of confident professionalism is required in procurement. We propose a new mixed civilian and military service to manage acquisition, offering a permanent professional career choice in procurement, ending two-year stints and the undue influence of “cap badge loyalty”.

We also need a broader new culture of consequence. As sometimes happens in the US, the UK Government could be prepared to return a project to the Main Gate stage when forecast cost or timescale exceed set targets. Changing specifications and an acceptance of missed targets should not be the norm.

Furthermore, many have commented that the search for the ‘exquisite’ can delay the deployment of the excellent. All platforms must provide for 100% of frontline requirements, but we must instil a culture change where design is to cost and 100% of requirement.

There has been a long-running debate over reform of DE&S. We have practical reservations about the GOCO model, in particular over accountability to Parliament and the length of a contract being at odds with the life cycles of equipment programmes.

We support integrating private sector expertise in policy-making. There is no dogma, only a belief in partnership to deliver positive policy outputs. In Opposition, just as would be our approach in government, Labour’s approach will be characterised by learning from those on the frontline of defence industrial decision-making.

But we are also clear that elements of t he MoD-industry relationship need to change. Following cash-for-access revelations in the Sunday Times we proposed a new code of conduct. If someone breaks the rules there should be sanctions; if a company employ a lobbyist this should be done within the rules and with total transparency.


In today’s security landscape we need a policy response as broad as the set of external and internal threats we face.

The global trends reshaping defence are increasingly interdependent in nature and their interaction – unpredictable and complex – can exacerbate threats. Demographic and climate change, for example, can increase the pressure on resources which can in turn inflame regional tensions and the potential for conflict, which can test our international governance structures.

The wrong lesson to learn from recent history is that this complexity and unpredictability inherent to security policy today means that Britain cannot sustainabl y achieve our ambitions in the world, and that we must trade policy in one area against another.

But that is not good enough. That would be the defeatists’ view. A more comprehensive approach is required. I believe that the right lesson to learn is that by working in partnership with industry, the military and our international allies we can achieve this. We must take a longer-term look at the politics of defence finance, change our whole approach to procurement and its culture and see specialist expertise, whether skills or technology, as means to attain competitive edge. Without this, however many painful cuts are made now more may follow because we won’t have put defence on a sustainable footing.

On future structure, equipment, organisation and culture Labour will work with those who bring expertise and insight to the table, but, we will work by the mantra that if you defend the past you lose the future.

Defence is becoming more intricate and complex while the world is becoming more interdependent and multifaceted. Our aim in defence policy is an advanced Armed Forces supported by an advanced equipment programme able to help the UK defend our interests and ideas around the world. And the foundation of that is affordable defence finance.

That is our goal and we want to work with you to achieve it.

Jim Murphy – 2011 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Murphy, the then Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, to the Labour Party conference on 26th September 2011.


Good morning. Right now it is the afternoon in Afghanistan and there are 10,000 of our Forces there, many of them Reservists. And there are two thousand engaged in Libya and deployed in other countries across the world. They bear the burden of their bravery, they demonstrate their patriotism and they carry our pride.

Afghanistan must remain the biggest defence priority for our nation, and now that a timetable has been set for withdrawal it is essential that the military effort is matched by a new political effort. It is in our national interest and our withdrawal cannot precipitate a collapse but rather a continuation of progress. The UK has fought in Afghanistan four times and we have no intention of doing so for a fifth time.

Tragically, since we last gathered 50 of our people have lost their lives in taking on the Taleban. And it’s important that there remains an all-party consensus over our responsibility to remember them and always care for and support their families.

Today I want to reflect on how we support our Forces, talk about our policy and some of our reforms.

Recent events have again shown that we live in a more interconnected world than ever before – global recession, global terrorism, global warming. New threats are emerging and new technologies are required. Defence is becoming more expensive, more intricate and more unpredictable. The contest for clean water supply and population growth demand our attention alongside terrorism and cyber attack. In recent years we have seen states fail and in recent months we have seen governments fall. We are confronted by violent groups and malevolent individuals determined to do us harm. The pace of change is quickening. Wars amongst the people rather than across borders will be increasingly common. There are 27 States of Concern, from Chad to Uzbekistan. Today there is no opt-out. David Cameron is learning that on the job.

But at this very moment our resilience is also tested: funding is constrained and public opinion is wary. And it’s because our values or interests don’t stop at our shores that we believe in a country with the power to persuade and the ability to act.

We will never wrap ourselves in the cloak of jingoism but the Labour Party will always be strong on defence.

But I want to tell you what can often be the most effective defence policy – and it’s not always a new piece of military hardware. It is a world-class international development policy. Investment in education, democratic reform and viable economies can hinder the spread of conflict. The careful prevention of development policy can be so much better than the painful cure of military action.

And I know that when development and diplomacy don’t succeed the decisions about deployment will always be controversial.

This Government was right to act to prevent the slaughter of thousands in Libya, just as a previous UK government was unforgivably wrong to sit idly by and watch the murder of 800,000 people in Rwanda.

I know that post-Iraq these decisions are even more difficult. We will debate, we may not agree, and so it should be – the decision to place our people in harm’s way will never be taken lightly.

I don’t want the anger that many people felt about the action that was taken in Iraq to defeat the shame we all felt about the failure to act in Rwanda.

I was delighted when Ed Miliband offered me this role as Shadow Defence Secretary. Firstly, because I want to do what’s right for our Forces and their families. Secondly, working with a brilliant Shadow Defence Team, I wanted to challenge the ill-informed orthodoxy of the past which says that Labour is the party of the NHS and the Tories are the party of the Forces. At a time when the Tories are proving that they are neither, a Labour opposition needs to be both if we are to be a Labour government.

Just think what the Tories have done since they came to power:

The Army cut 7,000.

An island nation with aircraft carriers but without aircraft. You don’t need to be a military strategist to know what aircraft carriers are meant to carry – the clue is in the name.

Soldiers serving in Afghanistan opening their inboxes for news of loved ones only to read that they have been sacked by email.

Generations of our troops are losing increased pension payments. This change is permanent while we all know that the deficit is temporary. We should be clear it is quite simply wrong that a man in his late 80s who jumped out of a landing craft at Normandy back in 1944 is having his pension payments permanently cut to pay for George Osborne’s economic policy.

Compare it to Labour’s record:

Doubled compensation payments.

Improved housing and healthcare.

A budget up 10% in real terms.

I’m proud of our record. You should be too and we should never let the Tories tarnish it because we don’t win the next time unless we stand up for what we did last time.

But despite everything the truth is that no party has a monopoly of wisdom or experience on defence.

We often talk about the heroes of our Movement: Hardie, Attlee, Bevan or Gaitskill. Brilliant and bold politicians none of whom sought the description as heroes.

But there is another sort of heroism. That is the heroism of service in the Forces. It exists in all parties and has always been strong in ours. And the wisdom that comes from Service is precious. Jim Callaghan was in the Royal Navy before he was Prime Minister and Dennis Healey served in the Army before he served as Chancellor.

There are many others – and that’s the case today. Let me introduce you to:

Dan Jarvis, the first person to resign their Commission to stand for Parliament since the Second World War.

Jon Wheale, who saw service with the Gunners in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Sophy Gardner, RAF Wing Commander, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, a real ground breaker she was the first woman in every job she had.

Frankie Caldwell, Captain in the Royal Tank Regiment, who served in Iraq and was awarded the MBE for his service.

Each of them believed in a better world so they joined our Forces. Each of them believes in a fairer country so they joined our Party.

We should be clear: we are proud of them and want more just like them.

And that’s why today I’m delighted to announce that that is exactly what we are going to do. If you have served and if you want to be part of our Movement we know that we are stronger with you.

Now, from today, if you are a Veteran you can for the first time ever join the Labour Party for just £1. We are the first and only party to change our rules in this way.

So I want to introduce one more person to you. Stephen Burke, Corporal Tank Commander Stephen Burke, who served in Cyprus, Kuwait and Iraq and the first person to join through ‘£1 for the Forces’ campaign.

Conference, even in opposition we are making things better with plans for procurement reform and success on the Military Covenant. The Covenant is the bond between nation and the Services which proclaims that no one should be disadvantaged in the provision of public services if they have served in our Forces – it is a reflection of our solidarity. When the Government reneged on its commitment to enshrine the Military Covenant in law we supported the work of the Royal British Legion in forcing a u-turn and next month the principles of the Covenant will be written into law. The Covenant is not binding on businesses, charities or political parties, but I want our Party in the future to change the way we do our politics so that we are the first to voluntarily sign up to its principles.

But I want us to go further. Today we are setting up a new organisation – Labour Friends of the Forces. Its patrons include our very own Dan Jarvis MP and former General Secretary of NATO George Robertson. This will be a campaigning body within our Movement to expand our engagement with the service community.

Because of all of these changes and the work that many of you are doing Labour can now be the most welcoming of any political party to our Forces community. That is the challenge to me, the team and to all of us together – changing our Party. So when we talk about refounding our party we are rebuilding a political home – and creating a political Home fit for our Heroes.

Jim Murphy – 2010 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Murphy to Labour Party conference on 27th September 2010.

Conference, in May we face a big election in Scotland – but we face it with confidence.

Although the general election was painful for us and the millions we stand for, our results in Scotland were stunning. Every seat held. An increase in the share of the vote. All by-election losses regained. Over a million votes for Labour.

We’re not just the Scottish Labour Party – we’re Scotland’s Labour Party. We should be so proud of Scotland’s achievement.

Peculiarly, it was also a good election for the Tories too.

Remember they boasted they would win 12 Scottish seats – and they did. One Tory. 11 Lib Dems.

But not a single person in Scotland voted Li b Dem in order to put the Tories into power.

That’s why people are so angry about what they see.

Let’s be under no illusions. This is a Tory Government and would be cutting hard and fast even if there was no deficit. For them, the deficit is a handy excuse to let them do what they’ve always done.

The Lib Dems haven’t put the breaks on the Tories – they have bolstered them.

Just look at the decisions they’ve made – Tory decisions, most of them, and all supported by a Lib Dem Party that has lost its heart.

Taking away help from pensioners, carers, disabled people.

I believe that we didn’t lose our economic credibility in Government and we all know that we won’t lose it in Opposition.

But the Tory budget will cast 125,000 Scots out of work – remember how much the closure of the Ravenscraig hurt Scotland, it is emblematic of the Tories affection for Scotland. But this current Tory budget is the equivalent of a Ravens craig every two weeks. Under this Government, someone in Scotland loses their job every six minutes. You will be pleased to know that I am going to make a short speech but by the time I sit down, another mum or dad will be without an income.

And the most immoral cut of all – axing the Future Jobs Fund. A simple idea: at the height of recession, instead of paying people benefits – support them to do a job. Not a made up job. A real job in a real firm.

And what a success. 11,000 young Scots. A Future Jobs Fund job created every hour.

The Tories claim it’s not sustainable. No evidence, no research – just assertion.

So I went and asked those in Scotland who took part – how was it for you?

I have never seen more compelling responses. Daily, there were testimonials from people who came to praise the scheme. I saw it for myself. A young man in Buchan said he didn’t think he’d fit in to his company but after 6 months wrote to say “it is wit hout a doubt in my mind, the best thing to happen. It’s not just about paid work – it’s about life experiences.”

That is the policy immorality of this Government laid bare: a gang of Cabinet millionaires whose lives are unaffected by their decisions taking jobs in the Western Isles, in the Central Belt and in the East End of Glasgow.

The Lib Dems are part of a Tory Government that’s going where even Thatcher feared to tread.

It took Thatcher six years to cut support for the unemployed. This government did it in six weeks.

Nick Clegg has sold his soul and lost his way.

Scotland knows that’s hard enough to cope with one Tory party – now we’re being asked to stomach two. Because make no mistake. This is a Tory Government with Tory values.

So conference, Scotland has a message for the Lib Dems. If you vote like a Tory, if you speak like a Tory, if you act like a Tory – Scotland will treat you like a Tory.

The SNP paid for years for heralding Thatcher’s arrival and became the Tartan Tories and the Lib Dems will be known as the Tories Little Helpers for years to come – you’ve sold out and come the next election Scotland is coming to get you.

When Nick Clegg stood on a stage just 30 miles from here in a city that knows unemployment all too well, he spoke eloquently, right into the camera lens, but turned away from the unemployed.

But for all the thousands of words he spoke, he didn’t mention unemployment once. It was almost as if he had his job now and was disinterested in those who will lose theirs in the future.

This coalition is composed of one party that doesn’t seem to care about unemployment and another that doesn’t understand it.

His only message to Scotland is that this won’t be like the 1980s. Too right, Nick.

It wont be like the 1980s because back then a decent Liberal Party stood up to Tory cuts and you’re on the other side this time.

It won’t be like the 1980s because the Labour Party is determined not to spend every day of a decade in well intentioned but futile Opposition.

It won’t be like the 1980s because we wont let the Liberals do to our shipyards what the Tories did to our steelworks.

Because the ideology behind this government is an ideology that says the state is bad.

I don’t have an ideological commitment to the state. I have an ideological commitment to making poor people better off, and know the state can help do that.

Our journey back starts here in Manchester, but the road runs through Scotland and Wales. These are our next big tests as a party and I know our new leader Ed Miliband will offer any and every support to Scotland in May.

Many Scottish families battered by the recession caught in the middle of a perfect political storm: a Tory Government at Westminster that is causing unemployment and an SNP Government at Edinburgh that isn’t doing enough to stop it.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

So I am delighted to welcome here today my friend and colleague, the next First Minister of Scotland, Iain Gray.

Jim Murphy – 2009 Speech to Labour Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Murphy, the Secretary of State for Scotland, at the 2009 Labour Party conference.

Wherever I go in Scotland I am in awe not just of the beauty of our country but the brilliance of our people.

Our cities that have helped shape the world can still have their best decades ahead of them.

Visiting our islands and seeing the wind and wave power technology of the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland and in Aberdeen which we want to be the renewable energy capital of Europe

On the River Clyde hundreds of apprentices I met making Britain safer by building Royal Navy ships

Parents I listen to balancing all the pressures of modern life and putting their children first.

Scotland’s pensioners who worked hard and saved hard to make Scotland all that it is –  probably the most powerful small nation on earth.

And we are stronger, fairer and more self-confident. But after repairing decades of Tory damage we still have a lot to do to build on our success.

Of course we have so much in common across the UK but there are also many differences – that’s the nature of devolution.

But the one big choice over the next year is the same – Labour government or Tory government; Gordon Brown or David Cameron; Gordon’s experience or the most superficial Tory leader in modern history.

And David Cameron wants to make the Tories a one nation party again – but that nation isn’t Scotland.

In Scotland David Cameron is even less popular today than Mrs Thatcher was in the 1980s – but he is no less a threat to Scotland’s families and our economy.

And the Scottish Tory candidates are probably the most hard-line in living memory.

They think the only problem with the 1980s was that their party didn’t go far enough in cutting back the welfare state and they can’t wait to finish the job.

Back then they allowed generations of Scots to get stuck on the dole and would have done the same in this recession because they opposed Labour’s £500 million investment to prevent the newly unemployed from becoming the long term unemployed.

Of course Labour will cut costs, but we’ll protect frontline services. However, the Tories would make savage cuts immediately, they would risk the recovery.

Because they believe in small government; in the politics of sink or swim and in the politics of your on your own. Today’s Scottish Tory candidates are Mrs Thatcher’s grandchildren.

And Scotland’s distrust of the Tories isn’t just because of what they did in government in the last recession but because of what they have said in opposition throughout this one.

They are probably the only opposition party anywhere in the world demanding that their government does less to help those on modest and middle incomes during this global recession.

In Scotland they are hated by many for their past and distrusted by most because of their present.

The Tories still don’t get Scotland. But Scotland gets them. And doesn’t want them back.

It will take an enormous effort from us but we have the team to do it. I am delighted to introduce Labour’s Leader in the Scottish Parliament and Scotland’s next First Minister Iain Gray.

Jim Murphy – 2007 Speech to the Work Foundation


Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Murphy, the then Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform, to the Work Foundation on 21st February 2007.

We have made progress – but we need to go further.

This is a common phrase that myself and many of my colleagues in Government often use – but what does this actually mean? It can’t just be more of the same. “To go further” means that we have to look for new ways of doing things to achieve the goals to which we aspire; some of which we have yet to achieve.

In 1997, we developed solutions to the problems of the day. The New Deal, the National Minimum Wage, transforming our laws on race, disability, age and sexuality as well as the record investment in public services, were all radical in their time. But now these policies have been accepted by most as part of a progressive political settlement.

We need to maintain our ambition, and be as radical now as we were back then. Solutions tailored to today’s problems will not be successful if they are bound by yesterday’s policies.

The key challenge for welfare now, it is to deliver for those people who face the most deep-rooted barriers to work.

Why? Because we cannot write any one off. Not just because of a sense of social injustice. Not just because children should have the right to grow up free of poverty. But also, because if we do, the economy as a whole will suffer – and every single member of our society will see the consequences.

Achieving this goal of a right to work for all, in the context of ever more rapid global and demographic change, will mean reaching out to those furthest from the labour market, the most disadvantaged and excluded in our society. It will mean extending the boundaries of welfare further than ever before.

This seminar, as you know, is part of a series of seminars which are contributing to the Pathways to the future process – announced by the Prime Minister and Chancellor in the Autumn.

We are at a crucial stage in the evolution of the welfare state. The reforms over the last decade have changed the focus for the vast majority of our customers – from that of passive dependency to active engagement with the state. Throughout this, either implicitly or explicitly, the contract between the citizen and state has evolved.

And if you look at progress over the last decade, the where the contract has been expanded the furthest, and the more explicit the contract has been, the more success we have had.

Take Jobseekers’ Allowance alongside the New Deal. A written contract outlining what is expected of the customer, and what they can expect in return. Results are clear. Youth unemployment has been virtually eradicated.

Take the proposed Employment and Support Allowance – again, an agreed set of objectives, with rights and responsibilities embedded at the heart of the benefit design. Based on the Pathways to work model which has been the most successful programme for people with health conditions and disabilities across the world.

These are founded on a something for something premise. Government to provide more support; customers to have a duty to take up that support. This contract has revolutionised the way in which the state and the citizen interact – and it has been crucial for the success of our welfare to work policies so far.

Therefore, to achieve the challenges that we are faced with over the next decade, I believe we have to widen and extend the contract further than we ever have before.

The contract we are talking about here is a complex one. A citizen is at times, a customer of the welfare state; but is always a taxpayer. And the state is, at times, the direct service provider; but is always the guarantor of its citizens’ rights.

It is across this diverse network of relationships that the contract must deliver. And to deliver for the next decade, I think there are three key elements that will be need to underpin to its evolution and construction over the years to come.

Firstly – Given that our aspiration is to extend the right of work to all; the assumption of a person’s ability to engage with the labour market should be the default position when determining a person’s interaction with the welfare state. But the pre-requisite to this, has to be that the Government fulfils its responsibilities of promoting and protecting the right to work for all.

The passage of the Welfare Reform Bill shows how far we have come in acheiving the right balance. The proposals introduce additional responsibilities to a group of people who it would not have been conceivable to place conditionality on a decade ago. Yet because we have committed to providing extra support, the overwhelming majority of stakeholders have welcomed this.

We would not be successful had this support not been guaranteed. We know that increased responsibilities on a citizen can only be embedded in a system if they have increased rights. We are committed to our part of the bargain – our side of the contract.

Given that is the case, I believe the primacy of the belief that all have the potential to work, should be at the heart of the citizen’s side of the contract. To not, I feel, is an insult to our customers, and a get-out clause for the state.

Secondly – even if the state takes a step back from delivery; it does not take a step back from responsibility.

As I have said, the key challenge for welfare is to reach the hardest to help. Our success will hinge on our ability to understand the specific barriers these groups face; and our capacity to tailor support to the individual in the community. The state cannot do this alone. The skills of local providers will be increasingly more important.

So where the state is removed from direct service provision, it must take on the role of arbiter and monitor of the contract. The market can not, should not and will not be left unchecked. Whilst we must harness the potential of the market, we must also be strong in holding providers to account on behalf of our customers.

This is about much more than the nuts and bolts of how provision is delivered. It is about ensuring that provision, no matter what its derivation, is underpinned by our values and our priorities.

And thirdly – the citizen as a taxpayer must never be neglected.

We must maintain the right to provide progressive public services.

And to do this, we must take it upon ourselves to promote a sense of progressive self-interest.

We need to reinvigorate the sense of social contract – that what happens to our neighbours, matters to us.

Over the last decade, benefit expenditure on Jobseekers Allowance, incapacity benefits and lone parents has fallen by around five billion in real terms. But this is not simply an economic argument. Progressive self interest is about making the wider connection between personal aspiration and the continuing right of the State to enable collective solutions that meet those aspirations. It is also about re-energising the consent for Labour’s values and policies.

But even those who are already won over on this argument need to be convinced that our way of doing things is the right way of doing things. To do this, we have to ensure efficient and effective service provision.

In this, we must be bold. If there are providers out there who can deliver a service better than the state, we should not shy away. Just because it is the Government’s role to ensure there is service provision for all; it does not necessarily follow that it is also Government’s role to deliver that service. Rather it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that the provision that people have is the best service they can get.

I believe our success in tacking the challenges created by demographic change and globalisation rests not just on technological improvements or scientific advancement. It rests on people. Individuals, able to fulfil their potential – crucial for them, and critical for the country.

It is only through developing a better relationship between citizen and the state that we can meet our goals. And improving that relationship means developing and enhancing that relationship on all sides – for customers, the state and taxpayers.

We sometimes talk about rights and responsibilities as if it is a balancing act which we need to perform in order to maintain an equilibrium.

But the ultimate responsibility of the state is to promote and protect its citizen’s rights. This includes the right to work.

The ultimate responsibility of the citizen is to utilise and capitalise on that right.

The contract is key. If we can get the balance right, if we can all honour the deal that we make, we will all reap the reward.

Jim Murphy – 2007 Speech on Welfare Reform


Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Murphy, the then Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform, to the Work Foundation on 12th February 2007.

One of the key challenges that Government faces, is to keep up with the pace of change – in society; in technology; and in the economy.

Nowhere is meeting that challenge more important than within welfare. For the Welfare State has the potential both to mitigate some of the difficulties that change brings, and to exploit many of the opportunities change provides.

And as the world around us changes, so do aspirations and expectations. It is our job in Government, to not only match, but anticipate those aspirations and expectations – and to exceed those where ever we can.

Tony Crosland, a Cabinet Minister under Wilson and Callaghan, encapsulated perfectly why this is a never-ending task. He said, back in 1975, “What one generation sees as a luxury, the next sees as a necessity.” The timeline from luxury to necessity is now not a generation but a decade. A decade ago – a mobile phone was the preserve of the prosperous. Now, 96% of 15-24 year olds have one.

So, what do I see as our major challenge for the next decade? It is to use today’s trends, to predict the world of tomorrow. And crucially, to act now on what we know to ensure that the welfare state is fully equipped to meet the aspirations of all in the years to come.

To do this, we must take a step back to explore what lies ahead for us over the next ten years. The Pathways to the Future process which the Prime Minister and Chancellor announced in the autumn, is central to this. As part of this process, we have asked David Freud to lead a wide-ranging review of our welfare to work strategy. This seminar is the second of a series that I hope will contribute to this, to generate new thinking, and to make us really focus on the long-term view.

In looking ahead to the future decade, I think it’s helpful to look back at the last. This is both to learn from our successes, recognise where we have further to go, and what we must do to complete the job we set out to do.

There has been great progress in the last decade. As the research paper published today highlights, there are 2.5 million more jobs today than there were ten years ago, and employment is up in every region and country of the UK – with the biggest increases in the neighbourhoods and cities which started in the worst position. The employment rate for the most disadvantaged groups has risen faster than for anyone else – 300,000 more lone parents, 900,000 more disabled people, 1 million more people from ethnic minorities and 1.5 million more people aged over 50 are in work than a decade ago.

There are many reasons behind this. Economic prosperity is certainly one. Embracing globalisation, rather than insulating ourselves from it, is another key aspect. But also, the reforms to the welfare system have been crucial. For years the concept of ‘welfare’ was emblematic of collective pessimism. Now it is being turned around into something which can foster hope, aspiration, and truly transform people’s lives.

But despite this there is much further to go to reach our stated aim of an 80% employment rate. There are still pockets of deprivation which have not been reached, and despite our reforms, a core group of people at the bottom of the ladder still find it incredibly difficult to break free from the generational cycle of poverty.

To tackle these remaining issues, we must not see them in isolation. We have to look at them in the context of the wider challenges ahead.

So, looking forward to the next decade, we must look at those as yet unachieved policy ambitions. We must understand the direction that the world around us is taking. And we must use this to shape a welfare state which will break down the remaining bastions of inequality.

The only certainty is that no-one can know everything that will happen to us over the next decade. We can see that, by looking at where we thought we would be ten years ago.

So, what did people think would happen to the labour market in 1997?

Ten years ago, many people thought that the North-South divide would persist, perhaps even get worse – and that London would lead the way in employment. Yet Scotland now has employment rates higher than the national average, and employment problems are concentrated in cities – particularly London.

In 1997, many believed that temporary jobs would grow exponentially, and that the majority of us would work for low wages. But 10 years on, the UK has one of the lowest proportions of temporary work in the world, whilst average earnings have grown every year by around 2% in real terms.

And ten years ago, the biggest group of foreign workers were – and it was thought by some were always to be – Irish. But now, there are many more French and German people in the UK than Irish. And a decade ago, the majority of Poles living here were those who came after the Second World War.

So we know that we must be careful as to what assumptions we make about the future.

However, despite this, there are some things which we do know. There are certain trends which, if they continue as they have been, will mean we are to see significant changes over the next decade.

In 1950, there were ten people working for every pensioner; today there just under four. In ten years time, on current trends this will reduce to three, and by 2050 there will be just two.

By 2017, China and India will have nearly doubled their share of the world’s income and their economies are likely to be bigger than the UK, French and German economies combined.

And over the next decade, ethnic minorities will account for half the increase in the working age population. Indeed, in London over the next 20 years, ethnic minorities could account for around three quarters of the growth in the potential workforce.

These few statistics I think show us that we can expect a labour market in 2017 which looks completely different to that of today. And we need to act now, to ensure that the welfare state is equipped to deal with the changes that the next decade will bring.

For the rest of my time left, I will just focus on one area where we need to adapt if we are to prosper- that of skills.

As the Leitch report has highlighted, this is an area which we face serious challenges on already. Historically, the UK has faced a skills deficit for a significant period of time, but despite recent improvements we still lag behind major of our major competitors in the OECD. That is why the Government is currently considering how to best achieve the ambitions that Leitch set out in his report.

Just looking at those with very low skills levels, if we look at where the shortages are, we see a clear pattern. Over three quarters of people with no qualifications fall into at least one of the groups which are specifically targeted in our department’s Public Service Agreement targets – disabled people, lone parents, people over 50 and those from an ethnic minority.

Given that the correlation with skills deficits and my department’s customer groups is so striking, we have a duty to act to target the resources we have in improving the basic skills of the most disadvantaged.

The welfare reforms currently going through parliament address this agenda for disabled people, through providing opportunities through Pathways support. John Hutton just a few weeks ago raised a discussion about how lone parents can get better access to the labour market. And the Welfare Reform Green paper outlined the further measures we are taking to boost support for older workers.

However, the employment rate for one group is still unacceptably low – that of ethnic minorities.

We cannot tolerate a labour market where by, despite progress, a young British Asian woman starting out in work today, will have to wait until her retirement before she sees people of ethnic minorities have the same employment rate as their contemporaries.

We cannot tolerate a society where well over half of Pakistani and Bangladeshi children in Great Britain live in poverty.

And we cannot tolerate a labour market where people of ethnic minorities on average earn a third less than their counterparts across Great Britain as a whole.

This is a social injustice in our society which is not only bad for individuals, families and their communities, but is a barrier against social cohesion and is bad for Britain. On top of that, as ethnic minorities grow to constitute a much greater proportion in the working age population in the decade to come, it is absolutely critical that everyone is able to access the labour market and can prosper within it.

Of course the causes of this disadvantage are complex, but fifteen per cent of unemployed ethnic minorities themselves cite language difficulties as a barrier to work. Potentially, that’s 40,000 people being denied the opportunity to work because they do not have the language skills to get a job.

At the moment, Jobcentre Plus spends around four and a half million pounds per year on translation services. Of course, we there will always be a need for interpretation provision; but surely, wherever possible, we should also focus on language skills to get people into work?

We must utilise the resources we have to redress the balance: to put the emphasis not just on translating language to claim a benefit; but to teaching language to get a job. Not just for the sake of employment rates; but for the benefit of the individual, their community and society as a whole.

There has been a new prioritisation of learners for whom lack of language skills is a barrier to getting a job or to improving life chances. Free English provision is and will continue to be available to those in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance and other income related benefits, targeting support for our most disadvantaged client groups.

We already have a new programme in development that will offer places for 15,000 places for customers to undertake basic skills and employability training – including language skills – with the Learning and Skills Council. In addition, we have committed £14 million for training allowance provision for our customers who take up those courses.

Currently, not nearly enough of this provision is being taken up, and we must put it to better use. We need to raise our game in matching those with poor language skills to the training they need in order not just to work, but to progress in work and gain sustainable employment.

As a first step in this, I have asked Jobcentre Plus to put a much greater emphasis on helping people to address their language barriers. From April this year, in England, there will be new guidance on making sure we help people with very poor language skills start to tackle the problem, as part of the Jobseekers Agreement. We will also discuss these plans with the devolved administrations.

Our customers might, for example, look for local English language classes or other opportunities to practise English language skills. Where-ever possible, we would like them to participate in a work focused language course, where they exist. People will be able and expected to look for work while they undertake any training, and importantly, in many cases there will also be the provision to carry on with the training course after they have got a job.

We also need to take a longer-term look at the services provided through the welfare state, community initiatives and adult learning provision to see how language difficulties can be more effectively addressed. That is why I have asked the National Employment Panel to identify knowledge and good practice on tackling language barriers in the labour market, and to look at the related challenges which lie ahead for the UK on this issue for the next 20 years. This will include looking at analysis from the National Research and Development Centre and the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education, alongside looking at best international experience.

This is but one way forward in which we need to better manage the challenges ahead for the next decade. This isn’t about a change of direction. It’s about continuing along our journey.

It was a journey which began with the creation of the Labour Party. After all the Labour movement was founded on a right to work and an aspiration for full employment.

But the concept of full employment for Beveridge, was that of able bodied men. For us, this aspiration of full employment in a global economy means much more than that. We are committed to a more ambitious approach. Opportunities for all – lone parents, people with disabilities and health conditions, older workers, and ethnic minorities all able to fulfil their right to work.

In the past, too many people have been written off in the labour market. Our challenge for the next decade is to put right that historic wrong.

Jim Murphy – 2006 Speech on Child Poverty


Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Murphy, the then Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform, to the Capita Child Conference on 11th July 2006.


Last week’s End Child Poverty Report: Unequal Choices drew together some of the feedback from recent stakeholder events organised with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

One of the participants said:

“Childhood cannot be re-lived. Isolation, desperation and hurt are not just words for young people – they have a scarring impact. It is unforgivable that these years can be allowed to be stolen from young people through poverty.”

No speech from a Minister can sum up the impact of poverty better than that.

There is a chain of disadvantage that runs through generations of the same families. Each successive generation is a link in that chain. We have to go further to break these generational links.

This cycle of deprivation has been building momentum: poor girls become mothers younger and Joseph Rowntree Foundation research last week suggested that one million children growing up poor could produce, on average, an additional 120,000 poor children in the next generation.

We have made striking progress in tackling child poverty since 1997. In the mid to late 1980s, the UK suffered higher child poverty than nearly all other industrialised nations. Over a period of 20 years, the proportion of children living in relative poverty had more than doubled and one in three babies born in Britain was poor.

Since 1997, we have tackled worklessness by investing in Jobcentre Plus and the New Deal; we’ve introduced the National Minimum Wage to make work pay and established Tax Credits to target financial support at families with children.

The child poverty rate is now at a 15 year low and we are close to the European average for child poverty – instead of bottom as we were in 1997. We’ve made the biggest improvement of any EU nation and the number of children in relative low-income households has fallen by 800,000 since 1997.

In politics, it’s very easy to talk a lot about statistics. But that’s 800,000 more children more likely to thrive in childhood and better able to fulfil their potential as adults. 800,000 individual lives transformed – given the kind of beginnings we want for all children, and which they should have by right.

So, much progress has been made. But it has not extended far enough. Too many remain trapped in a chain of disadvantage, and those that do remain are often the poorest and most socially excluded in our society.

Working together, we must do more to break this chain. We simply cannot accept poverty as an intrinsic feature of the social landscape of the UK, where – for the most excluded – there is little more that can be done to lift them out of poverty.

We know that this problem of poverty is of human making – for too long politicians tacitly, and sometimes explicitly, accepted that a lifetime on benefit was the solution for some of our fellow citizens. That’s just the way life was. People left to struggle in poverty without any suggestion that there might be a different way of doing things. A more just way, that acknowledges human potential and the dignity families feel when they are able to provide for themselves rather than rely solely on the state.

But just as the problem of poverty is of human making, the answer to breaking the chain of generational disadvantage lies in our hands. Which is why we set ourselves the target of eradicating child poverty by 2020.

Why child poverty and why now?

The moral case is evident: children in the UK are not even born equal. The child of a poor household is more likely to be premature and the infant mortality rate is twice as high for the poorest.

By the age of 15, the 5% most disadvantaged are 100 times more likely to experience multiple social problems.

And an ever-growing body of research attests to the particular importance of a child’s early years in forming their life chances as a whole. Which is why our focus on child poverty is so essential. Through improving children’s life chances, we’re also working to prevent adult disadvantage – that life of obstacle rather than opportunity that is still the reality for too many families and communities in Britain today.

But there is also an economic case for breaking the chain of disadvantage. Child poverty is a significant factor contributing to social costs of:

£500 million a year spent on homeless families with children;

£300 million a year on free school dinners;

Up to £500 million a year on primary health care for deprived children; and

£1billion on children’s residential provision.

And where individual lives go into a downward spiral – perhaps culminating in crime or drug dependency – the cost of interventions can lead to tens of thousands of pounds of expenditure. Prevention is better than cure for the individual and for society. Eradicating child poverty is the ultimate prevention.

Evidence suggests that education, as well as parental income, is key in providing poor children with the foundation for a route out of poverty. It is through education that we can first sense and ultimately fulfil our potential.

Looking forward to 2020 – I see not the world of today, but one of unimaginable change. Today our economy has 9 million highly skilled jobs – but by 2020 will need 14 million highly skilled workers. And whereas we now have 3.4 million unskilled jobs, it is estimated that by 2020 we will only need 600,000 unskilled workers.

So, weak educational outcomes for poor children represent not just the squandering of untapped promise, but a lost opportunity for them to contribute to the economy as adults.

Today’s teenagers will be the parents of 2020 – and today’s young people are the first generation who can truly be said to be competing in a single global economy. Their competitors in the job market are the citizens of China and India, not just their peers from their community, country or continent.

Emerging and developing economies have increased their share of world trade by around a third since 1990;

China is now the sixth largest economy in the world, and is projected to be the third largest within a decade; and

China and India are producing 4 million graduates a year.

These are challenges not just for our economy but also for individuals – for the children who are at school today. Government must face up to these challenges and equip individuals to compete. I see globalisation as an opportunity. But it is an opportunity from which all must benefit.

Vision – what government is doing

Tackling poverty and breaking the cycle of disadvantage isn’t just about improving educational opportunities for poor children or putting more money into parents’ pockets. It is a multi-dimensional challenge – so we must use all the tools at our disposal in a concerted effort to end child poverty:

Improving the targeting and tailoring of our employment support – to help all those who can work do so. Achieving an enduring reduction in child poverty means that, whereever possible, people must have the opportunity and support to work and provide for themselves. Since 1997, the number of children living in workless households has fallen by over 370,000 – but the UK still has the highest proportion of all children living in workless families anywhere in Europe.

Our Welfare Reform Bill, introduced to Parliament last week, will provide the legislative framework for a new and innovative, personalised approach to supporting Incapacity Benefit claimants back to work. And because children of lone parents not in work are over five times more likely to be in poverty than children of lone parents in full-time employment, we must continue to consider how we can best target support to this group.

I also want to see the tools of the Welfare State better targeted at helping families with children in the years ahead, including considering whether and how we can refocus our employment programmes and the delivery of our future reforms, so that helping parents back into work is fully integrated into their objectives and ways of working.

Providing the right financial support – creating the right incentives to work, balanced with support for those who can’t. This is particularly important in supporting the transition into work. Good quality childcare is an essential part of this picture – building further on our investment in Sure Start and early years education, to deliver our commitment to universal, affordable childcare for 3 to 14 year olds by 2010.

Tackling in-work poverty – enhancing skills to lay the foundation for progression in the workplace and supporting the partners of those in work. Around half of the children living in poverty in Britain today live in a household where an adult is already in work – largely couple families who do not work enough hours or earn enough to escape poverty. To help the in-work poor we must look at new ways of encouraging second earners into work; continue to make sure that work pays, and do more to improve progression in the labour market by supporting and extending investment in skills.

And we must also improve awareness and understanding of the benefits system, so that, for example, more people realise that Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit can be claimed in work. Recent evidence has shown that this would increase work incentives.

Reforming the Child Support system – so that it is fully aligned with our target to halve and then eradicate child poverty. Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed that, in 2000, child support made only a 3% contribution to tackling child poverty in the UK – compared to as much as 25% in Switzerland and Austria.

Child Trust Funds – ensuring that all children are brought up with a chance to save, with poor children benefiting from a boosted Government contribution. So that all young people can embark on their adult life with a financial nest-egg to help them get their foot on the opportunity ladder and build the habit of saving. For Labour, the politics of aspiration and the politics of poverty are not in conflict, in fact they go hand in hand.

Redistribution of power in public services – we must see a real improvement in public services, but we haven’t yet gone as far as we need to. Inequality still remains in some aspects of our public services, and in some of our poorest communities they have not improved quickly enough. So what is the solution? Wait for a gradually improving uniformity to reach the poorest performers? I, for one, am not willing to wait.

I want to enable further choice in public services – meaningful choice of high quality services. I want to ensure that those without:

The sharpest elbows;

Family networks or social capital; and

Those whose voices have not yet been heard in this debate

… have greater power placed in their hands.

Political progressives have long discussed the redistribution of wealth. We have been inexplicably muted on the redistribution of power.

So we must be confident that we are using all our tools to combat child poverty to maximum effect. Tackling child poverty is DWP’s number one priority; we are reviewing the work of the entire Department to assess what more we can do – and have appointed Lisa Harker to advise us as we develop our renewed strategy.

Engaging Young People

Our efforts must address the key areas of disadvantage that research shows limit young people’s life chances. By renewing our strategy in these areas we can make real and sustained progress towards our ambition of ending child poverty in a generation – breaking the chain of disadvantage for good.

The disability rights movement has a saying – ‘nothing about us, without us.’ I believe that to bring about lasting change – and to truly break the chain of disadvantage which links the generations – the same must be true for the children of poverty. Not least because the parents of the children of 2020 are themselves at school today.

Many of us have our own experiences of child poverty. I want to hear from young people about the impact poverty has on them and what they think Government and others could do to make their lives better. Later this Summer we will be bringing together a number of children from deprived areas of the country for a Summer Seminars here in London – where we will be exploring their perspectives on what poverty means and what can be done to tackle it.

The results will be included in DWP’s renewed strategy – to be published this Autumn – and we will be seeking nominations for participants from, for example, charities, schools and families of children who are living in poverty today.


Government is well placed to make the economic case for ending child poverty. But young people’s voices are essential to making the social justice case.

The chain of generational disadvantage – reinforced in the 1980s – has been weakened in recent years. But it has not yet been broken. I believe that to break this chain, two generations will have to be freed from it.

Achieving our target of eradicating child poverty by 2020 is the challenge and responsibility of Government. But our approach must be strengthened, not just by popular engagement but by popular refusal to tolerate child poverty in today’s Britain. For this to happen, I believe we must extend awareness of what poverty means to children in Britain today. By helping young people’s voices to be heard – we truly can “make poverty history at home”.

Jim Murphy – 2006 Speech on the Welfare Reform Bill


Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Murphy, the then Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform, to the Edinburgh Conference on Welfare Reform on 30th October 2006.


For too long, too many people have been written off.

That’s why I’m delighted to be here to talk to you about Welfare Reform.

Over the past decade, there has been the greatest extension of disability civil rights this country has ever seen. From establishing the Disability Rights Task Force in 1997 to the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, we have put in place a secure legal foundation of rights for disabled people. Employers and service providers of all sizes are now – almost without exception – subject to the DDA.

In December this year, the public sector disability equality duty will come into force, establishing a variety of obligations for public authorities to actively promote and support equality of opportunity for disabled people.

But we now need to go further. The crucial next step in empowering disabled people is extending their opportunity to work and play a full role in society. The framework of legal protection against employment discrimination is in place – but the support for the people who have until now been written off has been missing.

That is a frank admission that not enough has been done before. But in the past decade we have come a very long way in employment and welfare in the UK.

Legacy in 1997

It is important to remember that:

Not so long ago the UK suffered higher child poverty than nearly all other industrialised nations;

Over a period of 20 years, the proportion of children living in relative poverty had more than doubled and one in three children in Britain was poor;

By 1997, almost 5.5 million people were on benefits, 3 million more than in 1979; and

Over that same period, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits had risen by 50% –and the numbers claiming lone parent and incapacity benefits had more than tripled.

These appalling statistics paint the picture for the country, but they cannot capture the impact on communities, on families, and on individual lives – the neighbourhoods where unemployment and benefit dependency wasn’t a matter of months, or perhaps even years, but of a whole lifetime; a way of life.

And even today a child born into the most disadvantaged 5% of families is 100 times more likely to have multiple problems at age 15 than a child from a family in the most wealthy half of the population.

Progress since 1997

Of course, there has been real progress.

Since 1997, we have tackled worklessness with a strong economy and by investing in Jobcentre Plus and the New Deal:

More people are now in work in the UK than ever before, with more than 2.5 million more people in work than in 1997;

We have the best combination of high employment and low unemployment and inactivity of the world’s major industrialised countries;

Thanks to our reforms to the tax and benefit system, families with children are on average £1,500 per year better off in real terms, and those in the poorest fifth are £3,400 per year better off than in 1997.

Future Challenges

But just because there are no longer enormous marches for jobs, it doesn’t mean that our job is done.

There remain great causes in British public life including eradicating discrimination, ending child poverty and making all our public services world class.

I want to talk about three specific areas today:

– Welfare Reform, in particular our changes to Incapacity Benefit;

– Globalisation and skills; and

– Shaping our services around the citizen.

Incapacity Benefit Reform

It is inactivity – rather than unemployment – that is the principle employment challenge we now face. In the years up to 1997 the number of people claiming unemployment benefits had risen by 50% – but the numbers claiming lone parent and incapacity benefits had more than tripled.

The reasons for people coming onto Incapacity Benefits have changed dramatically since the benefit was first introduced. It was previously considered a legacy of an industrial heritage. But now:

People with mental health problems now account for 40% of the IB caseload – up from 27% in 1997; and

One third of new claimants now report mental and behavioural disorders as their main reason for coming onto the benefit, compared to a fifth back in 1997.

And we know that:

About three-quarters of Incapacity Benefit customers have been on the benefit for more than two years; and

After two years on Incapacity Benefit, a person is more likely to retire or die than ever work again.

But society has changed since incapacity benefits were introduced – and in particular attitudes to mental health and learning disabilities. It used to be thought that work would be the worst thing possible for people – whether they had a bad back or a mental health problem. Now we know that there is:

Strong evidence that work is good for physical and mental health; and that

Work can be therapeutic and can reverse the adverse health effects of unemployment and the damage it does to people’s self esteem.

But our systems haven’t kept pace with these advances in our understanding. We know that barriers still exist and discrimination still goes on. But without the DDA, disabled people wouldn’t have the right in law to challenge unfair treatment.

I know too that disabled people sometimes do face limitations in the sort of activities and work that they are able to undertake. But that’s why the essence of our Welfare Reform proposals is to focus on capability. To look at what people can do, rather than concentrate on what they can’t.

We intend to provide the support that will help those people that can do so, to work:

That’s why our Welfare Reform Bill will replace Incapacity Benefit with a new Employment and Support Allowance;

Turning the current system on its head, we will focus on what steps could help people into work, rather than simply assuming they are incapable of doing so on the basis of a health condition or disability;

We will match this new work focus with greater support for those people for whom it would not be reasonable to require to take steps towards a return to work, giving them a higher rate of benefit, together with the option of taking up the work-focused support on a purely voluntary basis;

But for the majority who – with help – can reasonably build their capacity to work, this support will be coupled with the responsibility to take up the help that is available;

These reforms will be built upon the foundation of our innovative Pathways to Work programme, which provides a holistic approach to tackling the health-related, personal and external barriers people face to returning to work;

And the new Personal Capability Assessment – reviewed by medical experts and stakeholder groups to ensure that it meets today’s needs – will provide Personal Advisers with work-focused health-related assessments for each claimant, so they can tailor packages of help and support for each individual customer.

Globalisation and Skills

Secondly I want to talk about globalisation.

Too often in the past, the conversation about globalisation is about what it means for nations and businesses rather than what it means for citizens.

Today’s young people are the first generation who can truly be said to be competing in a single global economy. Their competitors in the job market are the citizens of China and India, not just their peers from their community, country or continent.

Emerging and developing economies have increased their share of world trade by around a third since 1990;

China is now the sixth largest economy in the world, and is projected to be the third largest within a decade; and

China and India are producing 4 million graduates a year.

There is little future in low-skill employment. Today our economy has 9 million highly skilled jobs – but by 2020 will need 14 million highly skilled workers. And whereas we now have 3.4 million unskilled jobs, it is estimated that by 2020 we will only need 600,000 unskilled workers. This is another reason why we need to build the confidence and skills of the 2.7 million people currently on Incapacity Benefit.

So we need to look ahead and think now about how we can build the highly skilled workforce we will need. The Leitch review of skills will provide us with a valuable starting point. I believe we must build on the remarkable progress made in tackling unemployment by developing new approaches to help customers enhance their skills – considering how Jobcentre Plus can support people in low-skilled, low-paid work to progress in the workplace.

Making an impact through building skills will mean working effectively with a broader range of partners, at national and local level, to develop the kind of innovative approaches that will make a difference and will deliver the capabilities that employers need.

Skills are also crucial if we are to eradicate child poverty. Employment is the most effective route out of absolute poverty. Skills are a major part of eradicating in-work poverty because enhanced skills are the best path to sustained employment and a career.

All the tools of the Welfare State have to be better directed at helping families with children, including refocusing our employment programmes and the delivery of our future reforms, so that helping parents back into work is fully integrated into their objectives and ways of working.

Making further – greater – progress on tackling child poverty doesn’t just mean children’s lives changed for the better now. It’s the most important step we can take to break the chain of disadvantage that traps the poorest and most socially excluded in our society. That chain of family disadvantage which is passed from generation to generation – where each successive generation is a link in that chain. In recent years we have weakened it. But if we are to eradicate child poverty we need to break the chain of disadvantage.

We simply cannot accept poverty as an intrinsic feature of the social landscape of the UK.

That’s why tackling child poverty is DWP’s number one priority;

That’s why we are reviewing the work of the entire Department to assess what more we can do; and

That’s why we appointed independent child poverty expert Lisa Harker to advise us as we develop our renewed strategy – Lisa’s report will be published very shortly.

Shaping services around the citizen

Thirdly I want to talk about shaping our services around the citizen. I believe we must focus relentlessly on the needs and wishes of our customers.

The private sector has revolutionised the way that it does business as a result of the development of ever more powerful IT systems. It’s become the norm for many of us to book our holidays, do our shopping and our banking online. And these innovations have taken off because they meet our need for convenient access to services. I think it is reasonable to talk about Government for a Google Generation. We know that people are more impatient and – I think rightly – more demanding in the standard of services they expect from us.

There has been real innovation in public services. But an enhanced focus on customer services has been slow to reach the poorest people in our communities. Those who, in fact, depend the most on their interactions with public services.

That’s why I’m delighted to announce today a series of changes that will help Jobcentre Plus to provide a better service to our customers at the first point of contact:

We’re establishing 0800 numbers for people making new claims to working age benefits – everything from Jobseekers Allowance and Income Support to Incapacity Benefit;

For the majority of our customers, a single call is now all that will be required to make a new claim;

So there will no longer be a need to await a return call from Jobcentre Plus, meaning that the system will be quicker and customers will spend less time on the phone. Unsurprisingly our customers tell us that they prefer dealing with a single person and not having to repeat themselves;

And because the initial telephone process is quicker, customers get to meet a personal advisor sooner for work-related support and advice – which has to be good news in helping them get back into the labour market!

Such changes can make a big difference – our focus on reforming and renewing the welfare state must be matched with a continuing commitment to getting the details right in our relationship with our customers.


As we look ahead, to the impact of our current welfare reforms when they are rolled out in 2008, and beyond – to the future challenges that will shape our evolving welfare system – it might seem that the only constant is change.

But this change is driven by fundamental – and unchanging – values:

– the commitment to offering every individual and every generation the opportunity and support to achieve their potential; and

– the dedication to tearing down the remaining barriers that still hold people back.

Jim Murphy – 2006 Speech on Homelessness


Below is the text of the speech made by Jim Murphy, the then Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform, to the 16th November 2006.


I’m very pleased to have this opportunity to join you this morning – to offer my support for the invaluable work that so many of you here are doing to tackle homelessness – and, of course, to celebrate the launch of the Transitional Spaces Project.

Why tackling homelessness is so important

Tackling homelessness is about much more than simply putting a roof over someone’s head.

It’s about understanding the causes and addressing the factors that so often lead to homelessness, such as:

– relationship and family breakdown;

– debt and unemployment;

– mental health problems; and

– alcohol or drug dependency.

Tackling these issues helps provide a way back for people on a path to homelessness – helping them to hold on to a place to live even when facing other challenges in their lives.

We know that – if we don’t tackle the root causes – many homeless people can get trapped in a vicious cycle of deprivation; a cycle that eats away at their confidence and self-esteem; a cycle that was so vividly portrayed for the first time 40 years ago today – when the BBC first aired the drama documentary “Cathy Come Home.”

12 million people – a quarter of the British population at the time – watched the story of Cathy and Reg. Initially a happy couple, their lives spiral downwards when Reg loses his job. After periods of squatting, eviction and care homes, finally – on a suburban street in front of astonished passers-by – Cathy has her children forcibly taken away from her by the social services.

It shook the social conscience of a nation. Even as recently as 2000, a British Film Institute poll voted it the 2nd Greatest British Television Programme of the 20th Century.


We’ve come a long way in 40 years. The Homelessness Persons Act of Callaghan’s 1977 Government finally put a duty on local authorities to find accommodation for homeless applicants. And despite a marked lack of progress in the early 1980s and 1990s – this Government has made huge strides forwards:

Today rough sleeping is down nearly three-quarters since 1998;

We’ve ended the scandal of families spending long periods living in bed and breakfasts;

The number of new cases of homelessness is at a 23 year low – down 29% on the same period last year; and

We’ve set the ambitious target of halving the number of households living in temporary accommodation by 2010 – and have already seen a 7% reduction over the past year.

Much of this progress has been down to many of you here today. A result of ground-breaking partnerships with local authorities and the voluntary sector in tackling the root causes of homelessness.

Key to our success now is preventing people from ever getting onto the downward spiral that can lead to homelessness and despair.

Through our Supporting People programme we are investing more than £5 billion over three years in locally delivered services to help people maintain independent lives through more settled housing.

In the past decade we have doubled the funding for affordable housing and supported the creation of 230,000 new affordable homes.

We’re investing in social housing and increasing the supply of new social homes by 50 per cent by 2008, providing 75,000 new social homes over the next three years.

And, as our response to the Barker Review of Housing Supply made clear – we’re committed to going further and making social housing a priority in the next spending round as well.

Challenge ahead

But we need to go further. We know:

There are still up to 500 people on the streets on a single night; and

More than 90,000 households are still living in temporary accommodation.

The challenges and causes of homelessness are changing. And our response must reflect these new challenges. We know that the single biggest cause of homelessness – accounting for nearly one-in-four new cases – is where parents are no longer willing to accommodate young people; and while one in five cases results from the breakdown of relationships.

That’s why earlier this week the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government unveiled a package of measures specifically designed to tackle the root causes of homelessness – with a particular focus on the rising prevalence of youth homelessness – and the need for access to mediation services, to try and prevent the breakdown of relationships in families leading to homelessness.

It means saying no to the use of bed and breakfast accommodation for 16-17 year olds, except in emergencies;

It means training community volunteers and establishing supported lodgings across the country – that don’t just provide accommodation – but also advice and mediation services for young people; and

It means making the initial move into supported accommodation a springboard for helping people turn their lives around, not the beginning of a downward spiral of rejection and dependency.

Off the Streets and Into Work (OSW)

As your report “Multiple Barriers, Multiple Efforts” highlighted, tackling homelessness requires a truly joined-up, holistic approach. Not one that tackles each barrier separately.

That’s why it’s absolutely right that Off the Streets and Into Work should be making the connection between homelessness and worklessness. In “Cathy Come Home” it was, of course, when Reg lost his job that Cathy and Reg’s problems really began.

Most of OSW’s clients are unemployed – nearly a third have been unemployed for more than three years.

But we also know that many homeless people aspire to work. Your own survey in May last year (“No home, No job”) – the most extensive study of its kind in Europe – found that 97% of respondents said they would like to work in the future. And over three-quarters wanted to work straightaway.

We need to go further in ensuring that labour market policy is properly joined up with housing and homelessness policy.

We know, for example, that temporary accommodation can attract high management charges and the resulting high rents can be seen as a barrier to employment.

That’s why we’re working with DCLG and OSW to support the Working Future project being tested by the GLA and East Thames Group. One hundred households in temporary accommodation in East London being offered lower rents in return for increased training opportunities and tailored employment support.

We know that voluntary work or work experience plays an essential role in helping homeless people reconnect with work. As one respondent to your survey said:

“It gives you the opportunity to work in areas that you thought were beyond you.”

That’s why it was so important that we listened to you – and changed the rules on volunteers’ lunch expenses – allowing those on benefits to have their lunch expenses disregarded for benefit purposes. To make it easier for people who are on benefits to volunteer – and to take those crucial early steps on the road to work.

As well as the transition into work – it’s clear we also need to shift the focus away from simply getting a job to supporting people to progress in the workplace.

Through Jobcentre Plus and our wider welfare to work strategy – we have invested heavily in helping people find work. Our welfare reforms – the reform of Incapacity Benefit and our investment in the tailored support of Pathways to Work – are renewing a sense of hope and opportunity for those who have been written off by the welfare system for years.

But our future success will hinge not just on getting people into work – but on supporting them to stay in work and to acquire the skills, confidence and ambition to progress though the workplace. This is the new challenge for welfare. Getting people into work is only the start. Keeping them in work and helping them to progress through the labour market must be our objectives.

Our work to transform hostels – including the current £90 million Hostels Capital Improvement Programme – will make an important contribution by making hostels places where people can acquire skills and training to progress in their lives. Ending the “revolving door” of homelessness and helping people to build their way out of poverty and dependency.

Role of Housing Benefit Reform

Housing Benefit also needs to promote work and support a greater independence. Complexity and lack of transparency in Housing Benefit can act as a barrier to work. When payment is made to the landlord it does nothing to help tenants in developing their financial and budgeting skills or their sense of independence.

By contrast, our new Local Housing Allowance – a flat-rate amount based on household size and location – is paid in most cases to the tenant rather than the landlord. It’s already operating successfully for private sector tenants in 18 local authority areas – and we intend to extend it to new customers across the whole private rented sector.

But with 80% of those receiving Housing Benefit living in social housing and the highest levels of worklessness being in this sector – we’re also clear that there’s a strong case for reforming Housing Benefit for social tenants. While that means recognising the significant differences between the private rental market and social housing – we need to find a way of enabling social tenants to exercise a greater degree of personal responsibility in respect of their managing their finances.

Transitional Spaces Project

Even with Government action to increase the supply of social housing, we need to make better use of existing housing stock – including, with adequate safeguards, embracing the possibilities and choices offered by the private rented sector.

That’s why I’m so keen today to launch the Transitional Spaces Project – a new project that will combine an innovative incentive scheme and a transitional support package to link employment with sustainable moves from hostel accommodation into the private rented sector.

Two pilots: one in Tyneside and one here in London – working with 100 people a year over three years.

Not just providing financial support – but practical and motivational support to help with job-search, CV preparation, interview skills, training and mentoring, financial literacy, budgeting and even mediation with employers if needed. Not just working with people to think about employment – but to think about a career.

Not just doing more of what we already do – but doing things differently. Testing the boundaries of what is possible and forming new alliances and new partnerships which themselves can – and I believe must – drive further progress in tackling homelessness.


Because ultimately there can be no place for homelessness in our society.

Forty years ago “Cathy Come Home” – helped change societal attitudes as well as the Government’s approach. Today we’re still talking about it.

Since then – together – we’ve made enormous strides in tackling and preventing homelessness. But there is much more to do. And it is only by continuing to work together that we can help even more people out of a cycle of homelessness and into independent and settled lives.

We need to finish the job. Homelessness has no place in a sustainable community. Like poverty and disadvantage, our aim should be to eradicate it.