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SOCIAL INCLUSION IN THE 21ST CENTURY

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Deputy prime minister John Prescott today outlined the government's ...
Deputy prime minister John Prescott today outlined the government's

twin track strategy for delivering social justice: tackling low

incomes and improving public services.

In a speech to the Fabian Society in London today he spelled out how

on both incomes and services the government is adopting 'progressive

universalism' - raising standards for all, but providing more for

those who need it most.

Mr Prescott said that ensuring everybody has access to high quality

public services is the best way to lift those who find themselves at

the bottom of the ladder into the mainstream.

Mr Prescott said:

'We must seek to ensure that everybody can get to the starting line,

regardless of their status, but at the same time always strive to

move that starting line forward.

'Often the poorest services are in areas where people need them the

most. We have introduced floor targets, or minimum standards for

every area in the country and that means providing better schools,

improved health care, safer streets and better housing for those who

live in deprived communities.

'We have taken many important steps to address the issue of poverty

caused by low income by providing more help for those who need it

most. But social exclusion is not just about income it is also about

the public services that people need and use on a daily basis.'

Mr Prescott said his aim was to make sure the extra£43bn that

has been invested in public services does more to help communities

with the majority of problems and struggling public services. For

this to work social inclusion must be at the core of every

department's work.

Mr Prescott added,

'Real change is about making mainstream services work for everyone -

even the hardest to reach. Departments must work together to provide

accessible services that meet everyone's needs. This is an approach

that is beginning to work. Standards in schools for example, are

rising fastest in some of the poorest areas in the country.

'Departments cannot ignore social exclusion anymore - it is part of

their everyday work. It is the day to day business of every secretary

of state.'

Mr Prescott pointed out that this approach is beginning to yield

results: with more than 300,000 young people finding work through the

New Deal; rough sleeping down by two-thirds; teenage pregnancy

falling; and the rates of teenage parents in education or training

has doubled.

He also outlined how the work of the Social Exclusion Unit over the

last four years has contributed to a fundamental change in the way

government has approached the issues of social exclusion.

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