Headlines: May 22nd, 1998

 A key element of the Better Government White paper due in the Summer will be a focus on the needs of people for all the public services they receive. This focus will result in removing traditional boundaries between public service bodies.

Dr David Clark, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has announced that the first programme putting this principle into practice, Better Government for Older People, will be launched on 5 June. There will be 28 pilot projects covering the whole of the UK. The projects will cut across traditional boundaries to combine the services of central and local government as well as the private and voluntary sectors. An important feature of the programme is that older people will be encouraged to have a greater say about their needs and the services they receive.

As this is the first programme of the new approach, close attention will be given to see how the planning was done and how it is implemented. Although there is nothing new or novel about public bodies working in partnership the scale of the programme is such that it is clearly breaking new ground. Securing agreement on objectives will be difficult and managing budgets across frontiers is likely to be fraught with hazards.