The CSJ's Chairman is the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith MP. Philippa Stroud, CSJ Executive Director, is relatively new to politics having spent most of her life in frontline roles, working alongside the homeless and people with addictions. She is also Tory PPC for Sutton and Cheam. Over the last year significant appointments have been made in preparation for possible changes associated with the likely election of a Conservative government. This includes the recruitment of Gavin Poole, the CSJ’s strategy director. Key members of the CSJ team.
The CSJ was established in 2004 by IDS, Philippa Stroud, Tom Jackson, Cameron Watt and ConservativeHome Editor Tim Montgomerie.
The CSJ researches new approaches to persistent forms of poverty and Britain's most acute social problems. It is not a conventional Westminster think tank. It describes itself as a "do tank"; championing and learning from the work of effective grassroots poverty-fighting groups throughout Britain.
The policy work is rooted in the experience and wisdom of the hundreds of small charities, social entrepreneurs and faith based groups that are having great success in tackling Britain’s deepest problems, where the best efforts of the state have failed. The CSJ Alliance of Effective Poverty-Fighters seeks to provide a link between these groups and senior politicians in Westminster and local Government, in order for them to share their hard won expertise. "We are constantly driven by the need to bring politicians face-to-face with the realities of social breakdown in Britain," they say. They run "inner city challenges" which bring MPs face to face with social breakdown. Read Ed Vaizey MP's diary of his own immersion.
The CSJ conducts evidence led and independent policy research that combines data, anecdotal evidence and polling (through YouGov). Through this they seek to gain an accurate picture of poverty in Britain, its causes and consequences, and to define the role the state and other players can and can’t play in its reduction.
The CSJ seeks to address the root causes of poverty, preparing policy proposals aimed at preventing social breakdown, rather than attempting to stabilise or manage social problems.
The CSJ has published reports on what they have identified as the five major drivers of poverty: family breakdown, educational failure, economic dependency and worklessness, addiction and personal debt. This early 'pathways to poverty' work was encapsulated in its Breakthrough Britain report. 'Breakthrough' contained a range of policy proposals intended to reverse the problems described in the earlier report, Breakdown Britain.
Further policy work has sought to build on these early papers, addressing other drivers of poverty such as gang crime, prisons, policing, courts and sentencing, early intervention, children in care, the benefits system, family law, asylum seekers and social housing.
As of November 2009 the CSJ has had thirty policies adopted by the Government and 68 by Her Majesty’s Opposition. This gives them a strong claim to be the most influential think tank – at least among the Conservatives. In October 2009, the CSJ won the Prospect Magazine ‘Think Tank of the
Year 2009’ Award (jointly with the Institute for Fiscal Studies).
David Cameron outlined the Conservative Party’s vision of government, which focused on fighting poverty and inequality, in this year’s Hugo Young Memorial Lecture. The CSJ's influence on his message was noted with proposals being taken up from their report, Dynamic Benefits: Towards welfare that works. The report called for a radical recasting of state support for the jobless and low-paid.
During the course of 2010, the CSJ will be looking at five new areas of policy and will seek to continue to build a cross party consensus on how best to tackle Britain’s most intractable social problems. They will also be holding their fifth annual cross-party Awards ceremony, which aims to reward and honour innovative and usually community-based charities.
During 2010 the CSJ will also host their third Abraham Lincoln Lecture, which provides a platform for high profile politicians to articulate their vision for social justice.
Approximate budget and number of staff.
Not disclosed although 25 staff members are listed on their website.