Headlines: August 18th, 2005

The new action plans for Government Departments for tackling social exclusion will be based on feedback from almost 1000 people who were asked what public services could make a real difference to their lives. The research was part of the Social Exclusion Unit’s work programme to improve the life chances of the worst off in society. The Unit also asked those providing public services how they might make their services work more effectively for disadvantaged groups.Social exclusion is a shorthand term for what can happen when people or areas face a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, discrimination, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime, bad health and family breakdown. These problems are linked and each factor reinforces the other so that they can create a vicious cycle in people’s lives. The research provided an up-to-date picture of social exclusion and identified the key problems that are driving it. They are low educational attainment, economic inactivity, concentrations of worklessness, health inequalities, crime, poor quality environments and homelessness.

It also became clear that progress made by individuals can be fragile, and is not always sustained. Some 40% of participants who get a job after participating in the New Deal for Young People return to claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance within six months. Progress in other areas of life – like giving up drugs or turning away from crime , can also be undermined easily.

The Unit’s new work aims to find solutions to the problems and a series of Departmental Action Plans will be published over Autumn/Winter 2005-06.