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Village Agent Scheme

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 20 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he plans to assess the effectiveness of the Village Agent Scheme operating in Gloucestershire; and whether he plans to extend it, with particular reference to the greater take-up of benefits amongst older people. (248162)

The Village Agents Scheme was part of our LinkAge Plus pilot project which tested a comprehensive approach for accessible joined-up services for older people; one which puts older people at the centre of policy making and service delivery.

The current LinkAge Plus pilots ended their funded activity in October 2008 and each pilot is current finalising their individual pilot evaluations. All eight pilots have in the main sustained their activity, have secured funding and mainstreamed their activity to continue to deliver improved services for older people.

The national evaluation of the project includes an objective of building “an evidence base that supports the economic, as well as the social case for fully joined up/holistic services for older people” and will report in the spring of 2009.

In addition local evaluators have been appointed by each pilot to test the success of the projects in local terms. Their evidence will contribute to the national evaluation.

We are already sharing lessons learned from the pilot activity in order to encourage continuing sustainable joined-up services for older people (for example through the new Social Care Reform Grant). This scheme has attracted considerable interest from other authorities who are currently in contact with Gloucestershire county council with a view to developing similar approaches.