New Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper was on the radio this morning, discussing the new Child Poverty Bill. The aim of the bill is to pursue the government’s child poverty strategy by enshrining it in law which would oblige different government agencies to take it into account in framing their own activities. As Yvette Cooper asked, what kind of society do we want to be?
One particular set of organisations that would be affected by the bill are local authorities, but they are no ordinary kind of agency. They have their own democratic mandate from their own voters, and should not be treated in the same way as the pure creations of central government. If elected local government thinks that the priorities of the child poverty strategy are good ones, then fine, but if not (and these priorities would inevitably take the place of others that elected local government might prefer), then they should be free to set their own.
Going back to Yvette Cooper’s question, the answer appears to be: a centralised one.