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Reducing poverty by promoting more diverse social networks for disadvantaged people

There is growing evidence that an individual’s relationships – their ‘social capital’ – can help reduce poverty. For disadvantaged people from ethnic minority backgrounds, there is also evidence of a limited but significant relationship between less diverse social networks and poverty.

This ‘Solutions’ paper by Ryan Shorthouse at Bright Blue makes four policy recommendations:

  • The receipt of Child Benefit should be conditional upon all parents eligible for the Early Years Free Entitlement when their children are between the ages of three and four (from aged two for the most disadvantaged parents) enrolling their children in quality pre-school education.
  • Sure Start Children’s Centres should deliver key services, such as birth registration and English language classes.
  • OFSTED should take into account in their inspections of these institutions whether the social composition of governing bodies and advisory boards reflects that of local communities.
  • Individual Sure Start Children’s Centres should: collect standardised, socio-demographic data on participating families; and receive a financial reward for increasing the participation of disadvantaged people from ethnic minority backgrounds, and a financial penalty for failing to do so.

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