This afternoon, the Chancellor of the Exchequer set out his plans to invest in ‘common goods’. This intriguing phrase sums up the proper pursuit of government: a commitment to support the private associations that make us safe, happy and free. The principal associations to support are, of course, the family and the community.
Given the gigantic value of the family and community for a myriad social and economic benefits, they should be served by the mechanisms of the state and the motions of the market, not the other way round. And Rishi Sunak agrees.
There’s a reason we talk about the importance of family, community, and personal responsibility. Not because these are an alternative to the market or the state…it’s because they are more important than the market or the state.
Funding for youth clubs, football pitches and pocket parks – common goods – demonstrates a welcome resolve to build not just economic infrastructure, but social infrastructure too. We need the gathering places to build the social capital that humans need to flourish.
And before we join a community, we are all born into a family. This too deserves unashamed and unequivocal support from government, and the investment in family hubs announced today will offer families early help to overcome difficulties and build stronger relationships.
The cut in the taper rate of Universal Credit (UC) is another reason to be cheerful. Support for families in the fiscal system means recognising households, not just isolated individuals. UC is calculated for households, and so the taper rate cut will encourage families to form and stay together. While this is yet to be applied to a number of other taxes and benefits, it’s a very welcome first step to the fair treatment of families in the tax system.
The job of this Government is to pursue a new social covenant, to strengthen the fundamental relationships that are already available to all of us, because, as Rishi said, ‘We are bound together by more than transactional benefits’.