Munira Mirza, Director of the Number 10 Policy Unit, wrote this formal response after receiving the Workers and Families consultation completed in 2020.
Thank you very much for your report on Workers & Families. As always, the CPF provides valuable insights and I would like to thank all who contributed to the paper. I look forward to welcoming members of the CPF to Downing Street soon for some in person discussions once COVID restrictions ease.
As members of the CPF recognise, we are in unprecedented and immensely challenging times, which is why we have put in place one of the of the world’s most comprehensive economic responses to protect jobs, incomes, and business throughout this pandemic. We believe that employment is always the preferable and best route out of poverty, which is why the government has taken the unprecedented step to temporarily pay people’s wages during this crisis, protecting 12 million people’s jobs and livelihoods.
As the arrival of the vaccine heralds some light at the end of the COVID tunnel, we want to redouble our efforts on levelling up and intend to Build Back Better with a renewed focussed on job creation and skills-based training. The Kickstart Scheme will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for young people and we are tripling the number of traineeships. As we emerge from COVID the government will be promoting these schemes with renewed vigour. I know CPF members are rightly focused on how we can enable opportunities for individuals to develop skills throughout their working lives. With that in mind, the Prime Minister announced the lifetime skills guarantee to give adults the chance to take free college courses valued by employers.
We are committed to transforming the foundation of our skills system so that everyone has the opportunity to retrain and upskill, through the creation of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which will enable people to obtain A-level equivalent qualifications in high-demand areas. We believe this will have a significant impact on the productivity of the nation as a whole, contributing to further job growth and enhanced economic opportunity. I know the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is particularly keen to improve the evidence base and polices around in-work progression and there is a commission led by Baroness McGregor-Smith to identify and remedy these barriers. I will ensure that the various barriers to progression identified by CPF members in your consultation are fed into this work.
One of the themes identified by CPF members is the importance of promoting financial stability and security. We are committed to reducing the cost of living for people throughout the country and to improving financial resilience by addressing issues in the housing market, utilities market and transport. We agree with those CPF members who highlighted the importance of financial literacy. Financial literacy is an important component of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education and features in the secondary citizenship curriculum, which is compulsory in maintained schools.
We are also looking at what more we can do to promote parental choice in childcare. Work is underway in the Department for Education on developing Family Hub policy and further consideration is being given to what more can be done to liberalise the childcare market.
Again, I would like to thank you and all the members of the CPF for your ideas. They are greatly valued in No.10, and I have asked Jean-Andre Prager, Special Adviser in the Policy Unit on Welfare, to follow up directly for a more detailed discussion of your findings.
Thank you and kind regards,