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What’s Onward This Week

The number of Brits having babies has plummeted to a record low – with each woman averaging only 1.49 children in 2022. The reason behind the fall is simple: more and more would-be parents feel priced out of parenthood. Stagnating wages, sky-high childcare costs and dwindling homeownership mean many who aspire to start or grow a family feel unable to.

There are practical policies that can make positive changes in parents’ and prospective parents’ lives and see more people have the children they want. Yet, squeamishness about debating family policy and the consequences of our low birth rate hinders efforts to tackle this head-on. The issue deserves to be as mainstream as climate change or the risks from artificial intelligence.


✍️ Research

Demand for heat pumps is on the rise. Applications for the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme in January jumped by 39% compared to the previous year after the Prime Minister increased grants to £7,500. While much-maligned by some commentators, heat pumps already keep two-thirds of Norwegian homes warm and over two-fifths of Swedish and Finnish homes. In comparison, Britain is one of the most gas-dependent countries in the world, with around 80% of homes using a gas boiler to heat their home.

The surge of interest is good news. Switching to low-carbon heating is crucial to meeting our net zero targets, but it will also reduce households’ exposure to volatile fossil fuel markets. As Onward’s 2021 paper, Going Green, laid out, Britain has a long way to go to encourage people to make the move. The public is concerned by the cost of clean technologies and is sceptical about their performance. However, the success of this grant shows support and information can help kickstart the transformation while companies work to bring down prices.


📰 Media Mentions

Onward Director Sebastian Payne wrote in the i about what should be in the Budget next week.

Deputy Director Adam Hawksbee made the case for more neighbourhood policing in The New Statesman

He also argued that Britain must still address the root causes of inflation in City AM and spoke on LBC Cross Questions about how intimidation is impacting British democracy.

The Guardian quoted Head of the New Deal for Parents Phoebe Arslanagić-Little on how the UK is pricing people out of parenthood.


🌐 Onward Online

Next week we are heading to Coventry Cathedral Quarter for Restitch 2024! See the full agenda here:

Why has South Korea’s birthrate remained low, despite the government financially supporting couples through pregnancy? Head of the New Deal for Parents Phoebe Arslanagić-Little explains.


🗓️ Upcoming Events

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We are delighted to invite you to Restitch: The Social Fabric Summit organised in partnership with Labour Together and Create Streets. Please register to attend here.

Following the success of Restitch: The Social Fabric Summit in 2022, Onward, Create Streets and our new partners Labour Together are bringing together key thinkers and practitioners in Coventry’s Cathedral Quarter on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th March 2024 to debate and discuss how to strengthen the ties that bind us and renew the places that give us roots.

The historic St Mary’s Guildhall and Drapers Hall will host the main day of panels featuring: 

  • Tom Tugendhat MP, Minister for Security
  • Carlos Moreno, initiator of the ‘15 Minute City’ concept
  • Steve Reed MP, Shadow Environment Secretary
  • Clare Wightman, CEO, Grapevine Coventry
  • Oliver Coppard, Mayor of South Yorkshire
  • Munira Mirza, CEO, Civic Future
  • Daniel Finkelstein, Columnist, The Times

To view the full event overview, please visit the website here. 

Date: Thursday 7th and Friday 8th March 

Location: Cathedral Quarter, Coventry 

Thanks to our generous partners, it is free to attend so register here to secure your place.

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We are delighted to invite you to our next Onward After Hours with Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP.

Onward After Hours is our event series for under 35s, connecting the next generation of centre-right political thinkers. These events bring together journalists, special advisers, parliamentary staffers and more, to inspire fresh thinking and build connections.  

This evening will be a great opportunity for a casual drink and a chance to discuss the policy agenda and what matters most for young voters.

We hope you are able to join us.

Date: Tuesday 12th March

Time: 18:00- 20.30

Location: Central Westminster 

To sign up for this event, please click here.


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