From education to employment

Social Exclusion Minister Hilary Armstrong Reorders Attack on Lingering Social Exclusion

Social exclusion is set to be addressed from a new angle following a reappraisal and reorganisation of the Government’s approach to the issue, it was revealed today.

The Minister responsible for Social Exclusion, Hilary Armstrong MP, has today announced a new taskforce to bring social exclusion into the spotlight and to takle the issues raised therein. Ms. Armstrong outlined her target, to reach the one million people in this country who continue to be at risk of suffering the effects of social exclusion, through the work of the latest Government taskforce to roll out of Whitehall; the Social Exclusion Taskforce.

The New Taskforce

The background of the new Taskforce stretches back to the first days of the Government. In 1997, the Government created the Social Exclusion Unit to demonstrate the commitment to taking a cross party approach to changing the experiences and difficulties faced by the most disadvantaged people in Britain. The unit can be said to have proven successful, if statistics are to be believed; the number of children living in poverty is said to have fallen by 800,000, rough sleepers have allegedly fallen by 75%, employment rates are up and teen pregnancies are down.

The Taskforce will draw on the experience of staff drawn from the former Social Exclusion unit based within the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). These will be joined by staff from the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, further demonstrating the Prime Minister’s avowed commitment to tackling exlcusion in society. In his letter of appointment to Ms. Armstrong, Mr. Blair made it plain that the issue would need to be above departmental turf fights. Hilary Armstrong’s role is therefore one of co-ordinating a united Government agenda on social exclusion.

The Taskforce will continue the work of the Social Exclusion Unit. One of the next steps is to establish an Action Plan ““ presumably followed by action. This will include identification mesaures for those most at risk, improving the experience of children in care, continuing the work already begun on reducing teen pregnancy rates, and ensuring that the mentally ill receive the best treatment and care possible.


Speaking after she had just chaired the first cabinet committee for social exclusion today, Hilary Armstrong said: “This Government has always been committed to delivering social justice and tackling social exclusion, and has made excellent progress since 1997 in lifting many of people out of poverty. Against this backdrop of success, we see more starkly a small number continuing to experience multiple disadvantage.”

She continued, saying: “Bringing this agenda to the heart of government by creating the Social Exclusion Taskforce reflects our determination to tackle the most deeply entrenched problems. We will build on the good work done by the Social Exclusion Unit and support government departments in breaking the cycle of poverty and exclusion.”

Jethro Marsh

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