Mixed news on poverty fight

Social services are supporting fewer older
people to live at home, according to a report released this

Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion
, published by the New Policy Institute and the Joseph
Rowntree Foundation, shows that the number of people aged 75 and
over who receive support from social services to enable living at
home has fallen by a third since its 1994 peak.

In 2000, 11 out of 100 older people households
were helped to live at home, down from 16 in 1994. Older people in
London, the metropolitan authorities and Wales receive more support
than those in county councils and unitary authorities.

The report also shows that four million
children, nearly one in three, still live below the poverty line
despite a fall of 300,000 since 1996-7. A further fall of 900,000
in 2000-1 is necessary for the government to have fulfilled its
claim of lifting 1.2 million children out of poverty by the end of
the last parliament (the figures will be released next year).

However, the findings do suggest that progress
is being made overall in tackling social exclusion in Britain. The
number of improved indicators over the past year clearly exceeded
the number that worsened – 24 to eight – for the first time since
the report was launched in 1998.

Peter Kenway, co-director of the New Policy
Institute and co-author of the report, said the social exclusion
picture was changing fast.

“The improvements in education and housing are
substantial. But the deterioration in social services for older
people, the situation of the homeless, and the poor health in
Scotland are all matters of concern.”

Another report by the Child Poverty Action
Group shows that families living in poverty struggle to have enough
to eat or are unable to eat healthily. Poverty Bites – Food,
Health and Poor Families
calls for improved incomes for
families with children, better support for community food
initiatives and the extension of free school meals.

– For copies of Monitoring Poverty and
Social Exclusion 2001
ring 01904 430033; for Poverty Bites
– Food, Health and Poor Families
ring 020 7837 7979.

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