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Social Exclusion

Volume 454: debated on Wednesday 13 December 2006

5. To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what contribution she expects personalised public services to make to tackling social exclusion. (108608)

The Government have made personalisation of services a key feature of public sector reform. We are stepping up efforts to personalise services for the most excluded through pilots of budget-holding lead professionals for children in care, health-led parenting support projects for disadvantaged families, and pilots to address the needs of adults with chaotic lives and multiple problems. These initiatives will provide more tailored support, empower the service user, and better enable co-ordination of services, thereby improving the outcomes of the most excluded.

7. To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if she will give an example of early intervention; what assessment she has made of the effect of early intervention on social exclusion; and if she will make a statement. (108610)

Early intervention is one of the guiding principles of the Government’s Social Exclusion Action Plan and is vital to breaking the cycle of disadvantage and deprivation. This is not only beneficial to the children and families concerned, but it also saves the taxpayer from the high costs of treatment and communities from the side-effects of exclusion.

The Nurse-Family Partnership is an excellent example of early intervention. It is a structured programme of home visits by trained nurses to disadvantaged families during pregnancy and the first two years. I visited this programme last week in the United States, where the model has been running for nearly 30 years and has proven to be very successful—particularly for families with complex problems.

8. To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what use the Government make of the definitions of relative and absolute poverty when developing policy on social exclusion. (108611)

This Government use both relative and absolute measures of poverty. Regardless of which measure is used, what is clear is that poverty has been greatly reduced since 1997. Since 1997 there are now 7 million fewer people in absolute poverty;2.4 million adults have been lifted out of relative poverty; and 700,000 children lifted out of relative poverty.

9. To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assessment she has made of the impact of the Government’s policies on poverty and social exclusion in Sheffield since 1997; and if she will make a statement. (108612)

Sheffield is the key economic driver for South Yorkshire. The Government have supported Sheffield through targeted funding for the regeneration of the city centre and through programmes such as new deal for communities (NDC) and neighbourhood renewal fund (NRF). This has had a significant impact. Between November 1997 and November 2006 the total unemployment claimant count dropped by 48 per cent. with the number of long term claimants falling by77 per cent. The number of long term youth claimants fell by 93 per cent.