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What’s Onward This Week

Nearly half of teenagers are worried about becoming parents in the future, a new opinion poll found this week. Yet it shouldn’t concern us that 16-18-year-olds aren’t all ready to be parents – after all, they’re busy worrying about A-Levels. Instead the real issue is that many adults who want children find it difficult to start families.

Dwindling homeownership, soaring childcare costs and stagnating wages mean many people feel priced out of parenthood. It’s no longer enough to be ready and willing – would-be parents face too many material barriers they can’t break through. This is the problem Onward’s New Deal for Parents campaign wants to solve, making it easier to start and grow families in the UK.

✍️ Research

Crime has fallen by two-thirds since the mid-1990s. But people don’t feel safer on the streets. Only half of the public think the police are doing a “good job”. Stubbornly high crimes like antisocial behaviour, theft and drug use make people feel unsafe – and declining neighbourhood policing means they don’t see the officers locally tackling these issues.

Onward’s new paper, Back to Basics, reveals how far local policing has declined and proposes a way back. Endorsed by 10 Police and Crime Commissioners and welcomed by the Home Secretary James Cleverly, it urges ministers to launch a new recruitment drive to hire 19,000 neighbourhood officers. That’s enough to put two extra uniformed officers on the beat in every ward in England and Wales, replenishing the fall in dedicated neighbourhood officers the Government’s recent recruitment drive couldn’t replace.

The uplift would reverse the plummeting numbers of police community support officers and special constables, which nearly halved and fell by two-thirds over a decade. Supported by “pop up” police stations in disused shops and 3,500 neighbourhood wards in every town centre, these officers will rebuild the bridge between police forces and communities, driving down local crime and restoring trust.  

📰 Media Mentions

Onward Director Sebastian Payne wrote in the i about why the Conservatives need a new “bobbies on the beat” pledge.

Deputy Director Adam Hawksbee warns against eroding parental responsibility by paying for middle class pupils’ school meals in CityAM

Back to Basics was covered by The Times, Daily Telegraph, Yorkshire Post, the Daily Express and the Daily Mail.

Deputy Director Adam Hawksbee spoke to Jacob Rees Mogg on GB News and to Tom Swarbrick on LBC about the proposals.

Onward’s Callum Newton talked to Talk TV and made the case for recruiting 19,000 neighbourhood police officers in Conservative Home

Katy Bourne, Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex, endorsed the paper on Times Radio.

Onward’s Head of New Deal for Parents Phoebe Arslanagić-Little spoke to LBC about why the UK needs to make it easier to start and grow families.

🌐 Onward Online

Can rebuilding neighbourhood policing restore trust in the police? Senior Researcher Callum Newton explains.

🗓️ Upcoming Events

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We are delighted to invite you to our upcoming panel event Pride in Place: How can Britain revive its ‘Little Platoons’ and rebuild its social fabric? 

How can Britain restore its sense of pride in place? Since Onward was founded in 2018, themes of community, place, localism, strengthening regional economies and boosting civil society have been core to our research on Levelling Up. 

Onward was pioneering in seeking to measure the strength of Britain’s social fabric, finding that in too many places community strength has become frayed. With nearly 4 million Britons experiencing chronic loneliness, the decline in ‘third spaces’ and ever more pressure for young people to move away from home, how can public policy further a renewal of civic participation, local pride and a shared experience of community?

This panel event is part of our series on the Future of Conservatism, Onward’s commission seeking to chart a course for the future of the British centre-right.  Led by the Minister for Housing Lee Rowley, we will discuss how to level up left-behind communities and restore social fabric. 

We hope you are able to join us.

Date: Tuesday 27th February 

Time: 18:30- 19:45

Location: UnHerd Club, Central Westminster 

To sign up for this event, please click here.

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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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