Minister Phil Hope pleased with take-up of social exclusion targets

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Tackling social exclusion among adults will be a priority in half of English council areas over the next three years, a minister has revealed.

Phil Hope, Cabinet Office minister with responsibility for social exclusion, told Community Care that around 50% of councils, in conjunction with fellow local strategic partnership (LSP) members, have chosen at least one of eight social exclusion indicators as part of their three-year local area agreements.

LSPs and government regional offices are currently finalising negotiations on LAAs, under which each area will select 35 indicators as their top local priorities from a national set of 198 covering the full range of public service outcomes.

Last year, the government made tackling social exclusion among adults one of 30 high-level public service agreement targets for 2008-11.

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The eight indicators cover increasing the proportion of care leavers, offenders under supervision, secondary mental health service users and people with at moderate to severe learning disabilities in settled housing and employment, education or training (see table).

Last October, Naomi Eisenstadt, director of the social exclusion taskforce, expressed concern the targets would be seen as “unpopular and low-profile”.

Hope said he was pleased with the level of take-up, but accepted that the mental health and learning disabilities indicators had proved to be more popular than the care leaver and offender targets. He added: “This might be to do with the numbers of each group or because they are less popular.”

But he pointed out that other LSPs would have chosen related indicators – for instance on reducing offending or homelessness – while the Audit Commission will report on performance against all 198 in every area.

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