A Conservative government would put the family at the heart of social policy and give private and voluntary organisations a bigger role in service-delivery, delegates at the party conference heard this week.
Accusing the Labour government of failing the most disadvantaged in society, shadow work and pensions secretary Philip Hammond said it fell to the Conservatives to “pick up the challenge of delivering social justice”.
“This is a deep-rooted poverty – not just lack of money, but lack of aspiration, lack of self-esteem, lack of hope,” Hammond said. “It is a moral, as well as a material, poverty. And tackling this poverty is a moral as well as an economic imperative for the next Conservative government.”
Hammond said social justice would be delivered through education, training, healthcare, work-support and childcare.
He also promised to create a “genuinely level playing field” for the private and voluntary sectors so they could “share in the delivery of the social agenda”. Greater power and resources would also be devolved to local communities, he added.
“By creating a spirit of social responsibility, that will engage individuals, families, communities and businesses,” he said.
Party leader David Cameron and shadow chancellor George Osborne also used the conference to promote the idea of creating a transferable tax allowance, which would allow one parent to pass on the benefit to the other when he or she stopped work to stay at home with the children.
Cameron signalled that a Conservative government would also push for more flexible working hours for parents of children of all ages, rather than just the very young.