Headlines: November 15th, 2004

Two projects have been launched to improve access to public services for the most disadvantaged members of society. One will look at ways to meet the needs of people with no settled home and the other will investigate how new technology can help in addressing inequality.”Better service delivery for disadvantaged people who move frequently” will concentrate on the needs of people who have no choice but to move frequently. The Social Exclusion Unit says an average person moves home only once in seven years but some people move often in a short period of time. That can make it more difficult to access public services and act as a barrier to work or training and disrupt the education of children.

The project will look at the impact of frequent moving on people, including those leaving the armed services, families who have broken up or suffered domestic violence, those leaving long-term social or hospital care, Gypsies, travellers and seasonal workers.

Research shows that: homeless people and asylum seekers are less likely to access primary care services to get the treatment and support they need and that children living in temporary accommodation are twice as likely to be admitted to hospital. Almost four in ten prisoners will become homeless on release from prison and up to 20 per cent of care leavers experience some form of homelessness within two years.

The second project – “Inclusion Through Innovation” – is based on the belief that new technology could be one way to address inequality and improve service delivery for the disadvantaged and it will investigate this idea. The possibilities include text messaging to remind people to pay a bill or to attend an appointment or remote sensors to detect an elderly person falling in their home.

Launching public consultation for the two projects, Minister for Social Exclusion Jeff Rooker said both projects would provide an opportunity for those with experience of the issues involved to have their say and he urged anyone with relevant personal or professional experience to make sure their views were heard.