Headlines: November 20th, 2001

Whitehall departments are joining up to bring improvements to the most deprived areas of the UK. This drawing together of policy aims, backed by funding, will give a boost to local strategic partnerships which bring together providers and the communities they serve. The partnerships will take the lead locally in implementing neighbourhood renewal.Details of plans and funding for involving social landlords, including local authorities and housing associations in raising the standard of social housing were described in Publicnet Briefing yesterday. DTLR now plan to change the distribution of housing capital resources to ensure that a significant proportion of the money goes to deprived areas. The DfES has set targets for education authorities to have no fewer than 38 per cent of pupils achieving 5 GCSEs at A-C by 2004. The previous Target was to have at least 20% of pupils achieving this target. The Lord Chancellor’s Department in collaboration with the Law Centres Federation is working to ensure that people from vulnerable groups have access to legal services.

For the first time, public services will be judged on how they improve the worst hit areas, rather than on an overall average. The new floor targets are central to neighbourhood renewal. The floor targets focus on tackling deprivation in the poorest communities and they provide a cross-Departmental vision for narrowing the gap between deprived areas and the rest of England, so that within 10-20 years no one should be seriously disadvantaged by where they live.