Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter and member of the Sounding Board which supported the Young Leaders in their work, says the Vision makes clear the lack of agency children and young people have in the housing system, and makes the case for their voices being properly heard.

She says the Vision's call that 'no child should be homeless' couldn't be more true - and yet it's striking that over 120,000 children are currently homeless. She agrees with the Vision that housing needs to be affordable, flexible and designed to meet families' needs.

Polly echoes our Young Leaders' comment on how young people are stigmatised in the housing system, with landlords taking a punitive approach to behaviour from young people who need support. The Vision for a ChildFair State calls for housing developments to incorporate services and amenities so that young people can grow up in a supportive environment.


Tom Pollard from the New Economics Foundation, who has researched the impact of the benefits system on mental health, says the ChildFair State Vision 'hits the nail on the head' regarding the effect of the UK's social security system on families' wellbeing, and strongly supports the Vision's call for new systems to be built on principles such as universality, equity and interdependence between people and services.

Dr Stephen Crossley, Assistant Professor in Sociology at Durham University and also a member of the ChildFair State Sounding Board, responded:

I think the work is incredible, and the fact that some young people are engaged with issues around welfare and collective wellbeing is truly heart-warming – if only some politicians were similarly engaged and well-informed. The prominent positioning of values was similarly encouraging.

I was really pleased to see the word 'safe', 'safety' and 'security' feature so frequently throughout the report. These are such key ideas – and they’re not even particularly radical – for welfare systems and especially for children and young people who are often not in a position to keep themselves safe or provide security for themselves or their families. Again, these are really important values that you don’t see very often in our current social policies and welfare provision. For similar reasons, I really liked the explicit attention paid to interdependence which stands in stark contrast to the 'welfare dependency' narrative that so often gets trotted out by politicians seeking to limit the reach of the welfare state.

Some questions for the Young Leaders to reflect on:

    • What would 'work' look like in the ChildFair State? The availability and accessibility of good, meaningful, secure work is so important to young people, their futures, and their families that a radical vision of Childfair labour market might be a very powerful development.
    • What can we learn from other countries? Our Young Leaders could perhaps look outside the UK for examples of how some of their proposals are already working in practice or where similar ideas are being implemented. Start organising for a world tour, or at least a Scandinavian one.
    • Finally, I really like the inclusion of 'neighbourhoods' which recognises the importance of place and community and belonging in people’s lives – and speaks to issues of safety and security as well. Which other pillars or branches that aren’t in the original welfare state could be included? Care? Families? Leisure? (the last one is rarely spoken about in relation to the welfare state – but it speaks to children’s right to play, for example)


John Tizard, independent strategic advisor, says:

This report is excellent.

The young leaders, who produced the report, deserve a huge congratulations on their insights and policy proposals. They are the leaders we need now and, in the future, if we are going to create a fairer society and economy. Their voices must be heard and listened to.

I very much hope that the report will influence politicians, officials and policy curators across the political parties, government, local government, and wider public sector.

Anyone and everyone with responsibility for public services, education and the welfare system should read the report and explain how they are going to address its insights and recommendations.