Help 'forgotten families', says riots report

Panel says half a million UK families need support, and calls for penalties for schools that fail children

Half a million "forgotten families" who "bump along the bottom" need help to reintegrate them into mainstream society, the independent panel into the summer riots concluded in a report published today.

It was also scathing about the low educational attainment of some teenagers, calling for financial penalties for schools that fail to teach them basic levels of literacy.

The panel was appointed by David Cameron and Nick Clegg to explore the background to the riots that erupted in London, Birmingham, Manchester and other major English cities last August.

It suggested measures for helping to turn round the lives of the 500,000 most disadvantaged families. It called for specially-trained nurses to offer advice to all first-time mothers aged under 18 and for absent fathers to be contacted about their children by schools and social services. The panel said: "We must give everyone a stake in society."

Warning that action was needed to tackle the root causes of the disturbances, it said too many of the "most vulnerable children and young people are failed by the system" and pointed out that one-fifth of secondary school-leavers had a literacy level at or below that expected of an 11-year-old.

The panel said schools should be made to pay for English lessons for underperforming young pupils: "Given that we spend anywhere between £6,000 and £18,000 per year in each child's education, we believe no one should leave school without basic literacy skills. We recommend that schools failing to raise the literacy rate of a child to an age-appropriate standard should cover the financial cost of raising their attainment when they move on to a new provider."

The report found up to 15,000 people, mostly aged under 24, actively took part in the violence, with "countless more bystanders observing".

It suggested that the desire for designer brands fuelled involvement in the violence, concluding that the riots were characterised by "opportunistic looting". It said most shops that were targeted sold "high-value consumer products", such as mobile telephones, computers, designer clothes and trainers.

More than half of 1,200 people surveyed by the panel in six areas hit by the trouble feared there was a "growing gap between rich and poor" in their neighbourhood, with 85 per cent saying advertising puts pressure on young people to own the latest products.

Darra Singh, the panel's chairman, said: "When people don't feel they have a reason to stay out of trouble, the consequences for communities can be devastating – as we saw last August."

Enver Solomon, policy director of the Children's Society, said: "We know from our work there is a significant link between a child's material deprivation and their overall life satisfaction. The panel has rightly identified the need for services to more effectively work with forgotten families and support every child to achieve their potential."

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles welcomed the report, saying: "Just as the Panel has established that there was no single cause of the riots, it is clear that there can be no single solution. But many of the recommendations in the report chime with this Government's clear ambition to give power back to communities, reform and join up public services and extend opportunities for young people."

He added: "We should not forget that the strength of our communities was shown not by the actions of a criminal few determined to wreak havoc but by the actions of the majority of local people who pulled together in the aftermath, cleaned up the mess and supported their neighbours to restore pride in the places they call home."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'