Blunkett praises 'quiet redistribution' of wealth

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The Independent Online
A NATIONAL consensus including both rich and poor is the only way to tackle disadvantage, David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education said yesterday.

In a lecture on social exclusion in Southwark Cathedral, south London, Mr Blunkett said that the Government had to persuade the middle classes that the whole of society benefited if the lot of the poorest improved.

He spoke forcefully of the ways in which the Government is bringing about the redistribution of wealth - a subject that New Labour has sometimes shied away from.

As a result of the Budget, the poorest half of the country would have more to spend - that was "quiet redistribution". Redistribution would also come when the Government's plans for the minimum wage were implemented.

Mr Blunkett rejected the notion that there was "some sort of battleground between the worst off and the best off".

Children at The Arches, an afterschool club in nearby Camberwell, where more than half the children and adolescents arrive having been expelled from school, would benefit from redistribution.

Many have a history of gang activity and 68 per cent have been arrested by the police. These are the truants who the Government promises to do something about.

After spending time at The Arches, their attitudes change. Every member returns to education, many with ambitions to become barristers, artists or accountants.

The options at The Arches are indeed many, as Prince Charles found out when he paid a visit yesterday afternoon. Besides the activities - art, music, sport, drama - there are counsellors on site and special needs teachers who can help with schoolwork. There is a pool table too, where the Prince of Wales potted a red.