Select Committee on Health Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Social Exclusion Unit (PH 94)






  1.  This memorandum has been prepared for the Health Select Committee for their inquiry into Public Health. It provides the Committee with the information requested by e-mail on 17 November 2000.

  2.  The Committee asked if the Social Exclusion Unit would provide answers to three specific questions. The questions and answers are set out below.

What work is the Unit doing that impacts upon health and public health?

  3.  Poor health is one of a range of interlinked issues which contribute to social exclusion. All the Unit's work has therefore included consideration of health issues. The table below shows the main topics the Unit has worked on so far and examples of the health issues examined. Copies of the Unit's four published reports and the framework version of the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal are enclosed with this memorandum (Annexes A-E). The National Strategy Action Plan will be published in January 2001 and a copy will be sent to the Committee.
Truancy and School ExclusionTargets to improve educational achievement for children in care and care leavers;

DoH and DfEE joint guidance for local authorities on the educational attainment of looked after young people.
Rough SleepingAdditional funding for social care for rough sleepers who are physically and mentally ill;

Targeting funding on areas with the most acute substance misuse problems amongst rough sleepers.
Teenage PregnancySetting up Teenage Pregnancy Unit;

Area teenage pregnancy co-ordinators to work across local authority boundaries.
Bridging the Gap: New Opportunities for 16-18 Year Olds not in Education, Employment or Training Pilot schemes to look at specific needs of young people with disabilities or who are teenage parents;

Prioritising support for young people in care.
Neighbourhood RenewalParticipation of health bodies in Local Strategic Partnerships;

The quality of health service provision in poor areas.
Reducing re-offending by ex-prisoners (due to report in Spring 2001) The SEU is currently consulting a range of stakeholders on prisoners' health issues asking what should be done to:

ensure that prisoners' physical and mental health, and any substance misuse, are quickly and accurately assessed, and that this information is passed on as they move through the system;

pick up and track any illnesses they develop as they pass through the system;

improve the quantity and quality of treatment and support on offer;

ensure that prisoners continue to receive sufficient treatment and support on release.

What does the Department of Health input to the SEU?

  4.  Department of Health (DoH) Ministers and officials have worked closely with the Unit on our projects and their follow-up. In particular:

    —  Steering Groups—DoH Ministers have participated in the various ministerial groups responsible for steering individual reports. The Cabinet Committee on Children and Young People (Misc 9) and the Cabinet sub-Committee on Children and Young People (Misc 9B) have now superseded most of these groups. The Department is represented on both new committees and on the ongoing Ministerial Committee on Rough Sleeping.

    —  The Teenage Pregnancy Unit—a cross-Government Unit located within the DoH which was set up to implement the SEU report on teenage pregnancy.

    —  Ministerial Network on Social Exclusion—a DoH Minister sits on this group which was set up by the Prime Minister to chase progress across Government on implementation of past SEU reports and act as an informal sounding board for the Unit's future work programme.

    —  18 Policy Action Teams (PATs) were set up to work on solutions following publication of the SEU's preliminary report on Neighbourhood Renewal. DoH actively participated in the PATs and published PAT 13—Improving Shopping Access for People Living in Deprived Neighbourhoods.

    —  The PAT reports and recommendations were distilled into a framework document, the National Strategy for Neighbourhood renewal. DoH Ministers participated in the Ministerial Champions Group and officials in the inter-departmental group set up to steer the national strategy.

    —  A great deal of informal liaison took place between the Unit and DoH.

    —  The SEU currently includes three members of staff on loan from the DoH. This is on a par with loans from other government departments.

What experience and problems the SEU has had as a cross-departmental body. Has joint working been problematic?

  The SEU's experience of working as a cross-departmental body is one of the matters covered in the review of the Unit's first two years, published in December 1999. A copy is attached at Annex F.

December 2000

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