Headlines: December 10th, 2001

There are clear signs that progress is being made in tackling social exclusion in Britain, according to the annual monitoring report published by the New Policy Institute and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. For the first time since the report was launched in 1998, the number of indicators that have improved over the latest year substantially exceeds the number that got worse. But the number of households classified as poor remains virtually unchanged in the 1990s, having doubled in the 1980s.The report highlights more positive trends in education, where fewer children are leaving school without basic qualifications. The proportion of children finishing school without any GCSE ‘C’ grades or above fell by 20 per cent between 1991/2 and 1999/00. Even so, 150,000 pupils still leave school without a GCSE pass above grade ‘D’ and 25,000 getno grades at all. Around one in four 19-year-olds lack a basic qualification (NVQ2 or equivalent) compared with a third in 1995.

In employment the number of non-working adults who would like to have a paid job has fallen to 3.5 million from 5 million recorded in 1993. The number of 16- to 24-year-olds who are unemployed has fallen from one million in 1993 to 500,000. However, the unemployment rate of 10 per cent is double that for older workers.

Housing conditions have also improved, with levels of overcrowding, lack of central heating and extent of mortgage arrears all substantially lower than a decade ago.