Britain is a country of growing prosperity, with year on year increases in life expectancy and where crime has fallen by 44% over the last decade. Most people have jobs; 19 out of 20 people have seen their incomes rise by 2-3% per year; and 800,000 children have been lifted out of poverty. Those who are less well-off have benefited most from these improvements, extending the opportunities of living in modern Britain to a wider section of our society than ever before.
Because of this achievement in reducing poverty and increasing affluence, the persistent and deep–seated exclusion of a small minority stands out ever more starkly. A small percentage of every generation seems caught in a cycle of disadvantage.
Evidence suggests that the following groups and individuals have the most severe problems, with disadvantage entrenched over lifetimes and between generations.
These groups are the immediate priority for the Task Force as they require radical action to address their deep-seated disadvantage.
The disadvantages these groups face are usually apparent early in life and can persist long into adulthood and old age. Equally troubling is the ‘
cycle of disadvantage’ that shows deprivation in one generation is likely to pass down to the next. For example, the daughter of a teenage mother is twice as likely as the daughter of an older mother to become pregnant in her teens. Not a certainty, of course, but it does illustrate the fact that where you start in life - something which is beyond your control - has a major effect on your future life chances.
But predictions don't have to come true, and Reaching Out: An Action Plan on Social Exclusion published 11 September 2006, offers a series of opportunities for disadvantaged people that, if taken, will mitigate the lifelong effects of social exclusion and prevent them being passed down to future generations.