Headlines: October 1st, 2003

Many councils and other local public service agencies are failing to recognize the potential of floor targets to create better neighbourhoods and improve service delivery to poorer communities. The Neighbourhood Renewal Unit is concerned that three years after the targets were introduced there is still confusion about the benefits they can bring because managers have not sorted out how they relate to the raft of other targets they are expected to achieve.Traditionally, targets are designed to raise standards and they focus on where most can be achieved, rather than where most help is needed. This results in successful areas improving and poor performers doing little better. In contrast floor targets set minimum standards which must be achieved nationally. They focus on where help is needed.

Areas covered by floor targets include employment, education and health. The targets put into effect the cross cutting principle and focus on people’s lives. Tackling education and employment for example is also tackling crime and health. They are seen as a counter to the fragmented approach to neighbourhood renewal based on separate initiatives such as New Deal for Communities and single issue action zones.

The targets come down from central departments to local organizations such as councils and primary care trusts who then mobilize ground level delivery agents such as schools, health centres, Job Centre Plus and crime reduction partnerships.

The Neighbourhood Renewal Unit has published ‘Aiming High’ in an attempt to de-mystify floor targets.