Headlines: March 24th, 2003

Initiatives to improve the delivery of services across the public and voluntary sectors are to receive a total of 25 million pounds under the Invest to Save Budget. The successful schemes, announced by Paul Boateng, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, include helping refugees with health qualifications to re-qualify in this country and measures to pilot joined up ways of preventing ex-prisoners from offending again.In all 47 innovative projects will be rewarded. Others highlighted by the Treasury include a scheme to detect and deter illegal working by reducing passport fraud and an initiative for the rapid detection of the hospital infection, MRSA.

Paul Boateng said, “We are committed to encouraging innovation from the front line of public service provision – local schemes, run by local experts. The smallest ideas can become something that changes the lives of millions for the better. A solution developed at a local level can have applications that stretch much further.”

The projects receiving funding include the Refugee Health Professionals website, a voluntary sector led pilot project at Queen Mary University in London, to provide information and support for refugees who were health professionals in their native countries and who now wish to work here. Also rewarded is a joint approach to asylum and immigration which will involve an Immigration Service Investigation team working with the Department for Work and Pensions, Customs & Excise and the Inland Revenue to prevent illegal working and clamp down on fraud.

There will also be money for Restart, a resettlement project designed to break the cycle of re-offending and custody for adult offenders. It is a pre and post release service offering assistance with housing, employment and education and a mentoring programme.