Government strategy fails to convince service users

inclusion strategies are failing to improve the lives of many
excluded people, according to two new polls commissioned by
Community Care.

Of a
sample of people living in the 10 most deprived areas of England,
one-third said their financial situation had worsened over the past
four years. Only 15 per cent reported an improvement and of these,
almost three-quarters put the improvement down to an increase in
benefits or pensions.

the millions of pounds already spent on the regeneration of
run-down estates, more than a third said their area was in a worse
state than before 1997. Only one-fifth noted an improvement.

Not only
has the government’s strategy failed to improve the lives of people
in disadvantaged areas, it has omitted many vulnerable groups
altogether, according to a random sample of social care workers.
They named children, young people, disabled people, older adults,
and people with severe addiction problems as being overlooked by
government initiatives. Staff also believe that social work values
have not been sufficiently incorporated by the government. And all
bar one said social workers were not receiving sufficient support
from the government in their work.

Back on
the rundown estates, two out of five of the sample had never heard
of four of the main initiatives – New Deal, Sure Start, the social
exclusion unit, and the neighbourhood renewal unit. Only 5 per cent
had heard of the SEU and just 14 per cent knew of the NRU. New Deal
and Sure Start fared better, with almost half knowing about the new
employment scheme and almost one-third saying they had heard of the
government’s programme to improve the life chances of children
under four.

survey shows that those living in the UK’s most deprived estates
have little faith in the government prioritising their needs. The
sample respondents were asked to place in order the government’s
priorities from a list of rundown estates, big business, and the
environment. Four out of five said they believed the government was
least interested in rundown estates. A total of 85 per cent put big
business at the top of New Labour’s priority list.

survey revealed high levels of crime – more than one in 10 of the
respondents had experienced a crime in the past month. Of those,
the main crime was harassment – affecting 36 per cent – with
burglary, robbery and vandalisation of property coming next.

living in the most disadvantaged estates regard the UK as an
appalling place to live. Almost three-quarters see it as a society
divided between rich and poor and more than half regard it as
violent. Almost a half said the country was lacking in community
values. Some 28 per cent said the country was disintegrating. Only
10 per cent said it was safe and fewer still – 7 per cent – said
the UK was a compassionate place.

So if
the multitude of social inclusion schemes have failed, what would
work? Almost 50 per cent said securing a job or an increase in
benefits would improve their lives. Almost one-quarter wanted to
move out of their area, or into better accommodation. Just 3 per
cent stated that investment in their area was the factor that would
most improve their lives.

Has social inclusion improved in your area during the last four
years? Are your service users any better off? This week’s web
survey asks: Are the government’s social inclusion initiatives
benefiting your service users? To make your vote count go to

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.