Press release

PM to set out plans for ‘shared society’

The Prime Minister will give a speech to the Charity Commission setting out how the government will tackle ‘everyday injustices’.

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In a speech to the Charity Commission tomorrow morning, Prime Minister Theresa May will set out the government’s determination to build a shared society based on the values of citizenship, responsibility and fairness.

She will put her ambitious programme of social reform at the heart of this effort and outline a significant change in how the government will work – stepping up to play an active role in tackling the ‘everyday injustices’ which has left many in our society feeling overlooked.

The Prime Minister is expected to say:

While the obvious injustices receive a lot of attention – with the language of social justice and social mobility a staple of most politicians today – the everyday injustices are too often overlooked. If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. And at the same time, all too often in the past people have felt locked out of the political and social discourse in Britain. If they voiced their concerns, their views were shut down. Decisions made in faraway places didn’t always seem to be the right decisions for them.

That’s why I believe that - when we consider both the obvious and the everyday injustices in unison - we see that the central challenge of our times is to overcome division and bring our country together. And that starts by building something that I call the shared society.

The Prime Minister will talk about the need to strengthen the ties that bind society together by embracing the responsibilities individuals have to one another.

She is expected to say:

The shared society is one that doesn’t just value our individual rights but focuses rather more on the responsibilities we have to one another. It’s a society that respects the bonds that we share as a union of people and nations.

The bonds of family, community, citizenship, strong institutions. And it’s a society that recognises the obligations we have as citizens – obligations that make our society work.

She will set out her belief that previous governments have focused too narrowly on the very poorest, and outline a fundamentally different approach – saying that we need to deliver real social reform across every layer of society if we are to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. She will say that this approach will aid those who feel their concerns and struggles have been ignored for too long:

This means a government rooted not in the laissez-faire liberalism that leaves people to get by on their own, but rather in a new philosophy that means government stepping up – not just in the traditional way of providing a welfare state to support the most vulnerable, as vital as that will always be. But actually in going further to help those who have been ignored by government for too long because they don’t fall into the income bracket that makes them qualify for welfare support.

It means making a significant shift in the way that government works in Britain. Because government and politicians have for years talked the language of social justice – where we help the very poorest – and social mobility – where we help the brightest among the poor. But to deliver the change we need and build that shared society, we must move beyond this agenda and deliver real social reform across every layer of society so that those who feel that the system is stacked against them – those just above the threshold that attracts the government’s focus today yet those who are by no means rich or well off – are also given the help they need.

Because people who are just managing, just getting by don’t need a government that will get out of the way, they need a government that will make the system work for them. An active government that will work for them and allow them to share in the growing prosperity of post-Brexit Britain.

Published 8 January 2017