Author Archives: Claire Tyler

Claire Tyler writes: Breaking through the class ceiling

Too often, success in accessing our top professions is down to the lucky accident of birth. Too often, structural inequalities mean that young children find themselves imprisoned on an inescapable path. By the age of five, there is a clear academic attainment gap between children from rich and poor families. This increases throughout school. The benefits of being born to wealthy parents do not just accrue to the talented – in fact, less-able, better-off kids are 35% more likely to become high earners than bright poor youngsters. The resultant domination of our top professions like medicine, law, finance and the arts by the elite and independently educated is staggering.

The case for social mobility is not just a moral one. It also makes business sense. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in 2010 found that failing to improve low levels of social mobility will cost the UK economy up to £140 billion a year by 2050. Some top businesses understand this, and are working hard to widen access.

More must be done to widen access to elite professions; on the part of schools, universities, businesses and the government. This is the conclusion of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Mobility, of which I am co-Chair, and which released its report this week. Titled ‘The Class Ceiling’, the report is the culmination of a detailed inquiry, with the help of the Sutton Trust, over the last year. The inquiry looked at the causes and extent of the problem, investigated what is currently being done, and recommended tangible policy actions.

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Baroness Claire Tyler writes…Commitment secured on mental health assessments for looked after children

In the last few months I have been fighting to secure an important amendment to the Government’s Children and Social Work Bill. I want to ensure there is a commitment for the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of children in the care system to be promoted; and to ensure children have an assessment of their mental wellbeing as soon as possible after they enter the care system. I am delighted that following discussions with ministers and officials at the Department for Education, this important change will go ahead.

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Claire Tyler writes…We need to invest in all our young people

When it comes to the big debates on education, invariably the focus is on schools and universities. It’s all about academic success, exam league tables and access to higher education. On the rare occasions that the focus isn’t on institutions, it’s on apprenticeships. The attention governments of all hues have paid to these flagship policies have obscured one very important fact: the majority of young people—53%—do not follow the ‘traditional’ academic route into work.

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Baroness Claire Tyler writes….A Liberal Britain has equality and social justice at its heart

Your Liberal BritainThree facts reveal starkly to me that we don’t yet live in a ‘liberal Britain.’ First, overall income inequality hasn’t fallen since the early 1990s, but share of income held by the top 1% has soared. Shockingly, the richest 1% of UK households have more wealth than the bottom half of the population put together. Second, at the top end, the majority of the Cabinet, senior doctors, judges and journalists still come from independent schools. And at the bottom end, 17% of Britons lived in absolute low income households in 2014 ( 23% after housing costs), while 19% of children still live in absolute low income households. Finally, new figures show that the zero hours workers now approaches one million.

My contention is that in a Liberal Britain we’d revolutionise policy by refocusing our party on equality and social justice and use the concept of individual wellbeing as a way to find new solutions to longstanding social problems. The preamble to our constitution sums up our fundamental and enduring values of liberty, equality and community.  My key message is that we mustn’t forget equality – and tackling inequalities – and need to talk more about it.

Being liberal means we have an ambitious idea of what freedom entails, the sort outlined by liberal thinkers such as Thomas Green and Leonard Hobhouse, which sees real liberty as a positive freedom—being empowered to make meaningful choices about the sort of life you want to live as well as contributing to the common good. It also means showing real compassion for the worst off. High levels of inequality in housing, education, employment and a sense of financial security are at odds with a society in which everyone is free and are bad for our health and well-being too As Wilkinson and Pickett demonstrated so powerfully in The Spirit Level, societies with the largest inequality between the rich and the poor tend to have higher levels of crime and less trust and social cohesion. In short, inequality damages our whole social fabric and sense of belonging.

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Paul Burstow and Claire Tyler write … Standardised tobacco packaging

Do you know only one in ten smokers in the UK started after the age of 19, and two in five of smoking habits started before 16?

Every year, more than 100,000 people die from smoking related diseases across UK; at the same time, 200,000 children aged 11-15 are risking their health and spending hundreds if not thousands of pounds a year on this toxic habit.

When smokers take up in their early years, they face more serious health impacts and find it harder to quit, so reversing this alarming trend has to be one of our biggest priorities in public health. And that’s why the Lib Dems have fought hard over years to get us all ahead of the curve. Thanks to hard work from colleagues across Parliament, in the past ten years the UK has banned tobacco companies from using most forms of advertising – including sponsoring sport teams – and put the display of tobacco products in shops under control while Paul was Health Minister.

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Baroness Claire Tyler writes: Why banning smoking in cars with children in can and should be enforced

I read with great interest Caron’s very balanced blog entry on Thursday about banning smoking in cars with children and the varied comments that followed. These showed a quite legitimate difference of opinion about how to apply liberal principles in an such an area , as illustrated when Nick Clegg shared his own personal views on Thursday’s Call Clegg.

Much of the ensuing media and blog debate -including on Lib Dem Voice -has focussed on whether it’s right to legislate about what people do in private cars and whether this isn’t too great an intrusion by the “nanny state” into …

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Baroness Claire Tyler writes…A victory for public health (and cross-party working)

Moving amendments to legislation in the Lords can often feel like an interesting and worthy – but ultimately pointless – activity as often nothing changes. Not so this week!. I was one of the cross party group of peers who moved an  amendment to the Children and Families Bill last week to introduce powers to bring in regulations on standard packaging for cigarettes. My fellow peers were Ilora Finlay (crossbench), Richard Faulkner (Labour), and Ian McColl (Conservative). In the Commons it has also been genuinely cross party endeavour, the campaign being led by MPs including Paul Burstow and Stephen Williams …

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Baroness Tyler writes… A strong charitable sector is at the heart of a fairer society

A lot of people are talking about what the challenge of creating a stronger economy and a fairer society means in practical terms. I’m going to focus here on the latter. As well as implementing key Lib Dem policies such as the Pupil Premium ,raising the tax-free personal allowance, making childcare more affordable and introducing the new single tier state pension, it’s important we recognise the role charities and voluntary organisations play in helping people going through difficult times as part of a broader approach to social justice. This country has a proud history of charitable activity to …

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Baroness Tyler writes… Developing character and resilience in young people

The Social Mobility All Party Parliamentary Group have been working since 2011 to get an in-depth understanding of what it is that enables some people to get ahead in life whilst others fall behind and aren’t able make the most of their abilities and potential.

What became glaring to us through our report on “The Seven Key Truths of Social Mobility” published last year was the importance of so-called “soft skills”, an area all too often neglected in the social mobility debate. To shine a spotlight on this neglected area we held a Character and Resilience Summit yesterday in Admiralty House …

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Opinion: The other care crisis

Wheelchair signs - Some rights reserved by Leo ReynoldsOver the course of this Parliament, social care reform could become the most distinctive area of Liberal Democrat influence in the Coalition.

The Party has the strongest foothold in an issue that is permeated by talk of ‘cross party consensus’ (although, to date, the rhetoric has led to precious little real agreement), with both Ministers for Social Care under the Coalition – and probably the biggest voices – being Lib Dems, in Paul Burstow and Norman Lamb.

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Baroness Tyler writes… A balanced working life consultation

Times are tough for people on low to middle incomes. As a group they have seen their quality of life remain stagnate even during times of sustained economic growth. The financial crisis of 2008 and ensuing recession has made getting by much more difficult for large numbers of people who are unable to make ends meet and with no savings to fall back on when the money runs out.

Which is why I was delighted when I was asked to chair the Lib Dem Working group on a Balanced Working Life. Our remit is to

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 5 Comments

Baroness Tyler writes… To improve social mobility, we need to shine a spotlight on early years

One of the fascinating things I have discovered since joining the Lib Dem group in the Lords last year is the profusion of all party groups in Parliament on virtually every subject under the sun. There are quite simply hundreds of them including some pretty bizarre ones ! About a year ago I decided to join the cross party group on social mobility – a key interest of mine since my time in central government as the Head of the Social Exclusion Unit. On Tuesday we launched our first report at a packed event in hosted by the Policy …

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Baroness Claire Tyler writes… Shining a spotlight on health inequalities

Today is Third Reading in the Lords of the Health and Social Care Bill. That this is one of the longest, most complex and contentious piece of legislation of this Parliamentary session barely needs restating. That it is unloved in many quarters is a statement of the obvious. And of course you only have to read the many articles and threads on Lib Dem Voice about the Bill to know that views still vary widely on whether it is necessary to address the fundamental challenges faced by the NHS.

Having been a member of the Lib Dem team in the Lords – working alongside far more experienced colleagues than I – I do know that the Bill has improved out of all recognition from the Bill we received from the Commons. Of course it does not bear the hallmarks of a Bill that has come from a Lib Dem stable – because it didn’t – but that is the nature of coalition government. And whilst I fully recognise that some in the party would rather part 3 of the Bill dealing with competition didn’t exist, I think it’s necessary.

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Tagged | 12 Comments
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