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LGA URGES GOVERNMENT: GIVE US JOINED-UP ANTI-POVERTY STRATEGIES

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The Local Government Association has urged the government to take a 'joined-up' approach to tackling poverty and so...
The Local Government Association has urged the government to take a 'joined-up' approach to tackling poverty and social exclusion.

This follows criticism in the cabinet office's Reaching Out report, published today, that the government's anti-poverty strategies are in disarray because of a lack of co-ordination between Whitehall departments.

Jeremy Beecham, chair of the LGA, said: 'LGA research shows current anti-poverty strategies are beset by too many conflicting and confusing initiatives from different agencies and government departments.

'Local authorities should be at the heart of delivering policies that tackle social exclusion, because they are best placed to assess needs at local level.

'We are urging a more joined-up approach to anti-poverty policies, so that those most in need are not lost between different initiatives and government departments.

'We believe that local authorities can lead the way on this, and we are actively investigating the most effective and responsive ways of delivering the highest level of services the communities we serve.

'We can also ensure that people are in receipt of all the benefits and income support to which they are entitled.'

NOTES

1) The LGA launched 'Supporting the Action Zones' in summer 1999, a full report of which will be produced in March 2000. It outlines a number of key points about area-based initiatives and 'action zones', and argues that in many cases objectives can overlap, lack local input and co-ordination.

2) The SAZ initiative has also raised questions about rural areas, where it is argued that not enough strategies have been targeted, and where it may be necessary to aim 'people' rather than 'area' based initiatives.

3) Other concerns raised are:

Important lessons learned on projects are often not disseminated on a wide basis

The timescale for some of the SAZs (approximately 18 months) was insufficient

The zones were set up as pathfinders but have been judged on short-term performance

Local partnerships set up for the zones have been jettisoned

There was a lack of willingness on the part of government departments to take risks or allow innovation

The bureaucracy was out of proportion to the two-year life of the zones

Partnership needs to be a working reality at national departmental level as well as local and regional levels

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