Access to a free education is a cornerstone of 21st-century Britain, and yet many children are being badly let down, with the levels of literacy and numeracy still shamefully low. This leaves many young people are unable to compete in a job market in which the unskilled are being increasingly marginalised.
Much of this has to do with government investment and priorities. Yet schemes aimed to benefit the young, such as Sure Start and the Educational Maintenance Allowance, have been sacrificed, and child benefit and child tax credits squeezed. Even those with successful school careers will feel the pinch: with university tuition fees set to rise to £9,000 per annum later this year, the government subsidy for students is being radically pruned. After 2015, graduates may enter the world of work carrying debts in excess of £40,000.
Such issues raise a fundamental question: How valuable are our future citizens to us as a national resource? And what exactly are we doing about it? IF is carefully monitoring government initiatives, and investigating the long-term impact of its spending policies, in order to produce a paper in the Summer on just how toxic the increase in tuition fees is to the nation as a whole.