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The Cabinet Office and Local Government Association have joined forces to get more local authorities improving life...
The Cabinet Office and Local Government Association have joined forces to get more local authorities improving life for older people.

Jack Cunningham, minister for the Cabinet Office, and Sir Jeremy Beecham, chairman of the LGA, have written to all local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, inviting them to join the Learning Network - a partnership to drive forward the government's Better Government for Older People programme. They have set a target that 50 percent of local authorities will be signed up by 2002.

Dr Cunningham said:

'In June, we launched the Better Government for Older People programme to encourage new partnerships to help older people. Telephone helplines, computer training, consultative forums on council services for older people, a goods and services exchange - these are just some of the innovative schemes being tried out at a local level in the 28 pilots throughout the UK.

'Now we want to bring Better Government to many more older people, by building on the excellent work of these trailblazers. We will create lasting partnerships to continue beyond the first stage of the programme. Every local authority should aim to draw up a long-term strategy for older people.

'The Learning Network will spread good practice to make a real difference to older people's lives. It is an example of the cross-sectoral partnership approach I will be building on in next spring's white paper to modernise government.

'Local authorities or other organisations wanting to get involved in the network should contact the Better Government for Older People team for more information.'

Sir Jeremy Beecham said:

'The LGA is delighted that older people are being given the maximum opportunity to contribute fully to the services they receive, as they have a vital role to play in their communities.

'Local authorities will be happy to be offered this chance to take a lead role in developing Better Government for Older People to deliver first-class services.'

The Learning Network will:

- bring local authority Leaders and Chief Executives together with voluntary organisations and older people themselves;

- build up a database of good practice in the delivery of Better Government to older people;

- enable partners to get involved in the events and workshops which will take the programme forward;

- offer the expertise of the Better Government for Older People team to local authority-led partnerships designing their own strategies for older people.


1. The Learning Network will be formally launched early in 1999. For further information on the Network and the Better Government for Older People programme, and for contact details of local pilots and older people who are benefiting from the schemes, please contact Martin Shreeve at Better Government for Older People on 01902 824276.

2. Local authorities or other organisations wanting to join the Learning Network should contact John Barker, the Programme Co-ordinator, on 01902 824276.

3. The aim of the Better Government for Older People Programme, launched in June 1998, is to improve public services for older people

by better meeting their needs, listening to their views, and encouraging and valuing their contribution, so they can fully participate in their communities. The programme will initially run for two years.

4. A small team headed by Programme Director Martin Shreeve is developing, co-ordinating, monitoring and evaluating the 28 local pilots. The pilots are each developing innovative ways of delivering services for older people. Each pilot is led by a local authority, but involves partners from central government and the voluntary, private and community sectors.

5. The programme is being sponsored and steered by a unique partnership of six organisations: the Cabinet Office, Age Concern, Help the Aged, the Anchor Trust, the Carnegie Third Age Programme and Warwick University. It is part of the Government's strategy for older


6. A powerful new ministerial group on older people was launched in June 1998, chaired by John Denham, minister of state at the Department of Social Security. On 23 November the Government published the consultation paper Building a Better Britain for Older People.

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