HL Deb 22 March 2001 vol 623 cc183-4WA
Baroness David

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made on tackling social exclusion. [HL1381]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington)

The Social Exclusion Unit has published a report,Preventing Social Exclusion, which sets out the Government's approach to tackling social exclusion and the results that have been delivered so far in preventing social exclusion, reintegrating those who become excluded, and delivering basic minimum standards. It is a long-term approach, but clear results are now coming through:

1 million more people are in work and claimant unemployment has fallen to below 1 million for the first time since 1975. Unemployment has fallen fastest in the most deprived areas;

educational achievement is improving—higher standards than ever before for 11 year-olds in English and maths, with a 10 and 13 per cent improvement in each subject respectively between 1998 and 2000;

More than a million children have been lifted out of poverty;

Overall crime is falling and burglary is down by a quarter since 1997.

Clear results are also coming through on the specific topics tackled by the Social Exclusion Unit:

a fall in the numbers of rough sleepers of over a third between June 1998 and June 2000;

a drop in school exclusions of nearly a fifth between 1997 and 1999. A third of all local education authorities provided full-time education for excluded pupils in 2000 and two-thirds plan to do so in 2001;

a fall of over 15 per cent between 1988 and 1999 in the numbers of 16 to 18 year-olds not in education, employment and training;

a clear downward trend in teenage conceptions and an increase in the proportion of teenage parents in training, education or employment, from 16 per cent in 1997 to 31 per cent in 2000;

progress in reducing the national truancy rate has been disppointing. Although some local areas have reduced truancy rates, the national rate has remained static since 1997. This is being urgently addressed;

the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal was finalised in January this year. This is an unashamedly long-term plan, laying the foundations to ensure that within 10 to 20 years no-one should be seriously disadvantaged by where they live.

The Social Exclusion Unit's future priorities are going to be: to complete the current project on reducing re-offending by ex-prisoners; to follow up initial work on young runaways, on which a background paper has been published; and to start two new projects on the educational attainment of children in care and transport and social exclusion.

An overall strategy for working with children and young people is being developed by the Children and Young People's Unit. As a first step, it has published Tomorrow's Future: Building a Strategy for Children and Young People, which sets out the Government's intent to work with children and young people and a wide range of stakeholders in developing the strategy.

Copies of all three reports have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.