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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 03/03/2003
Promoting Social Inclusion - Challenging Social Exclusion Fostering Community Cohesion



At an earlier Overview and Scrutiny Committee members asked for a report on the issues surrounding social inclusion/exclusion. This report:-

provides some background about these issues generally and how they relate to
Waverley;

details the SE Region Social Exclusion Statement;

recognises how the social inclusion/exclusion debate has moved on to include the
issue of “community cohesion”; and

identifies some of the activities that are being undertaken by the Council to promote
social inclusion and to address social exclusion.

As this is a scene setting report there are no officer recommendations.

There are no resource, environmental, Crime and Disorder, or “Opportunities for All” implications directly arising from this report.
APPENDIX I
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

COMMUNITY OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – 3RD MARCH 2003



Title:
PROMOTING SOCIAL INCLUSION – CHALLENGING SOCIAL
EXCLUSION FOSTERING COMMUNITY COHESION
[Wards Affected: All]


Summary and Purpose

At an earlier Overview and Scrutiny Committee members asked for a report on the issues surrounding social inclusion/exclusion. This report:-

provides some background about these issues generally and how they relate to Waverley;

details the SE Region Social Exclusion Statement;

recognises how the social inclusion/exclusion debate has moved on to include the issue of “community cohesion”; and

identifies some of the activities that are being undertaken by the Council to promote social inclusion and to address social exclusion.

As this is a scene setting report there are no officer recommendations.

There are no resource, environmental, Crime and Disorder, or “Opportunities for All” implications directly arising from this report.



Introduction and Background

1. At the November 2002 meeting of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee, members asked for a report on social inclusion/social exclusion. This report attempts to address this request. However, it is recognised that social inclusion/exclusion is a very wide subject and so this report is relatively brief and scene setting.

What is Social Exclusion?

2. Whilst there is not a universally accepted definition of the term “Social Exclusion”, the Government’s own Social Exclusion Unit uses the following description in its work:-


Social exclusion is a shorthand label for what can happen when individuals or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown.”

3. A key concern of the Government is that of “Social Exclusion” and this has been evidenced, for example, by:-

the Government is encouraging local authorities to address issues of poverty, deprivation and disadvantage;

the “Social Exclusion Unit” being established in 1997 under the direction of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office;

the Secretary of State for the Department of Social Security announcing in 1999 that the Government intended to introduce a “poverty audit” to ensure that poverty was being recognised and measured across the country; and

the Government placing duties on councils to promote social, economic and environmental well-being of their areas – outlined in the White Paper “Modern Local Government – In Touch with the People” (July 1998), and reinforced in the Local Government Act 2000 which introduced Community Strategies and Local Strategic Partnerships. This statutory duty requires local authorities to develop holistic strategies for their areas which will need to promote social inclusion.

The Homelessness Act 2002 which extended local housing authorities duties in respect of marginalized people/households who experience homelessness.

4. It has now been clear for some time that the Government expects public services to meet the needs of all sections of the community, including those who are less able to either access them or articulate their needs. A number of initiatives such as Best Value, Better Government for Older People, the Crime and Disorder Act and others, form part of the Government’s agenda for modernising local government and promote social inclusion.

5. It is important to recognise that the thrust of the Government’s response to social exclusion has been to identify areas, primarily inner cities and areas in the north of England, and, as a consequence capital and revenue resources have been directed to these areas. Evidence of this approach can be seen from the targeting of competitive funding such as Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) resources, the development of Education, Enterprise and Health Action Zones, as well as “New Commitment to Regeneration” and “New Deal for Communities” pathfinders to which funding is being prioritised – all being aimed at urban areas. There has been some better recognition more recently that rural areas are under strain and can experience social exclusion and there have been some funding programmes that help address such areas. Nevertheless, areas such as Waverley are perceived as being healthy, wealthy and affluent, and (not from want of trying) it remains difficult to attract nationally allocated resources to the Borough – and this experience has been found in health, social services and the voluntary sector serving the Borough.


6. Whilst it is true that Waverley is indeed a relatively affluent place, and it does not necessarily have large areas with multifaceted social problems, it does have issues surrounding poverty, disadvantage and deprivation that need to be addressed. Indeed, it can be considered a double disadvantage to be impoverished in an affluent area. The “Town and Country Finance Issues Group” (TACFIG) has been raising the profile of rural and semi-rural shire district councils at a national level.

Waverley’s Vision Statement and Corporate Objectives

7. Waverley’s vision statement “To enhance the quality of life in this green and pleasant Borough, now and for the future, through strong local leadership and customer focused service” recognises that Waverley is fortunate in being a green and pleasant place to live and that this can only be maintained by continually working to enhance the quality of life. The Corporate Objectives underpin the vision statement and give priority to a number of issues that support an agenda for social inclusion:-

o Ensure Equal Opportunities in every aspect of Council activity o Focus resources on what matters most to our residents o Ensure more affordable housing is provided o Maintain and improve Waverley’s social housing stock o Support homeless people o Provide an effective and efficient refuse collection service o Protect public health and safety o Improve parks and play areas o To work with the business community to maintain the level of business activity in towns and villages o Support local shops and services o Improve cultural and leisure facilities for all o Reduce fear of crime o Support activities which enable older people to live their lives to the full o Improve the opportunities for young people

Opportunities for All

8. In 1999, the Council acknowledged the role it had to play in challenging disadvantage and promoting social inclusion and adopted an “Opportunities for All” strategy. One of the planks of this policy was for Committee reports to outline how the proposals contained in a report would promote “Opportunities for All”. It may be a co-incidence, but since that time the Government itself has been using the term “Opportunities for All”.


Developing an Equality of Opportunity Action Plan for Waverley Borough Council

9. At its meeting on 5th February 2002, the Executive endorsed the action plan for implementing the key target areas for the development of the Council’s approach to equality issues which include:-

(a) racial incident reporting;

(b) training for Members and staff;

(c) consultation within the community and internally with staff;

(d) publicity to promote equalities;

(e) partnership working, e.g. with schools, police, religious groups etc and ensuring equality of opportunity is taken account of in contract procurement; and

(f) accessibility to Council premises.

Surrey Area Profile for Waverley

10. As part of its work, Surrey County Council has developed area profiles that show the relative positions of different parts of the Borough on the basis of statistical information in its possession.

11. The existing Waverley Community Profile is based to a significant extent on data drawn from the 1991 census, which is now clearly out of date. Material from the 2001 census is now beginning to appear, but ward-level data (along with that which is applicable to smaller areas) is only expected to be available from 2003.

12. Annexe 1 to this report contains the updated and interim Profile (titled the Waverley Community Profile 2002), together with maps and tables and a commentary on each map.

13. The data set out in Annexe 1 suggests the following broad conclusions:-

A number of predominantly urban pockets of relative disadvantage remain within Waverley, most notably contained in the wards of Godalming North East and South West and Farnham Upper Hale and affecting families with children.

A significant area of relative disadvantage appears to have emerged in south-western Waverley (Haslemere, Shottermill and Hindhead). This requires more detailed investigation.

Data now exists to show the extent of rural disadvantage within Waverley, particularly in relation to access to essential services and to employment opportunities.


South East Region – Social Inclusion Statement

14. On 26th June 2002, the “South East Region Social Inclusion Statement” was published. This is a jointly agreed Statement produced by the Government Office for the South East, the South East Regional Assembly, the Housing Corporation, NHS Health Development Agency, RAISE, South East England Development Agency, and Social Services Inspectorate. A copy of the Statement is available in the Members’ Room.

15. The statement does seven things:-

Commits the above named regional organisations and agencies to making social inclusion a priority

Sets out clear standards as to the way in which these organisation and agencies will work together to reduce deprivation and bring about social inclusion

Makes commitments about the way these organisations will work with the voluntary and community sector at a local level

Informs the Partners’ action plan which identifies priorities for regional activity over the next 12-18 months on key issues such as crime reduction, education, health, enterprise, housing, transport and other Quality of Life issues (e.g. arts, sports, cultural and recreational activity)

Gives a commitment to agreeing a methodology to measure whether social inclusion in the region is getting better

Acts as an introductory guide to the subject and a signpost for further information

16. The Statement’s aim is “To reduce the gap between the 119 most deprived wards and the rest of the region by 10% by 2010”.

17. The Statement recognises that whilst additional resources may be attracted to the most deprived areas of the South East - from European, national and regional sources – for most of the region deprivation will have to be tackled through setting local strategic priorities and targets and channelling mainstream funding power of the public sector to tackle those agreed priorities and targets. Some of this work, it considers, will be undertaken through Local Strategic Partnerships.

18. In order to make a success of tackling the issue of social inclusion, the Statement identifies the following as being critical:-

Strong community involvement – as decision makers

Effective private sector involvement

A clear vision for the future

Clear objectives

A commitment to working in partnership.

19. The Statement also identifies those groups which are most vulnerable to social exclusion viz:-

Young people

Older people

Black and ethnic minority groups

People with disabilities

Those physically isolated by poverty

20. According to the Statement, in the Waverley context, two wards feature as being in the top 10% of the “worst” nationally under the “Access Domain” of the Index of Local Deprivation 2000:-

Alfold and Dunsfold Ranking 169 nationally

Busbridge, Hambledon and Hascombe Ranking 460 nationally

21. The “Access Domain” covers access (or lack of access), for example, to a post office, food shops, a GP or a primary school. This aspect of deprivation focuses on people on benefits. Although access to services may not be such an issue for those who can afford to run their own transport, service accessibility is particularly poor in 302 wards in the region for those on low incomes. It is perhaps in these rural areas that individuals are most likely to feel isolated from the relative prosperity around them.

22. No wards in this Borough feature as being in the worst 20% nationally of any of the other Domains, which are: Index of Multiple Deprivation; Income; Employment; Education; Health; Housing; and Child Poverty.

23. What is a cause for concern is that at a regional level, Waverley is an area with relatively little deprivation. As members will be aware, there are areas of need in Waverley and there is a general issue of ability to access affordable housing across the Borough. However, as there is a growing desire on the part of the Government to target resources on areas of social deprivation and economic growth, this disadvantages Waverley when resources are being distributed.

Community Cohesion

24. The Local Government Association, Home Office, Commission for Racial Equality and the Inter-faith Network for the UK, have recently agreed guidance for all local authorities and their partners on strengthening and building communities.

25. Following the race riots in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley, reports into the causes of the riots pointed to a range of factors, none of which were unique to those towns. What was recognised as a general feature was the lack of social cohesion in the communities, and this is considered to be so for other areas. Government Ministers and national agencies awarding grant-aid are increasingly seeing “Social Cohesion” as being a significant factor in how communities need to develop and be sustained.


26. Community Cohesion is seen as an issue that applies to all authorities, regardless of the size of their ethnic minority populations. In fact, it goes far beyond the ideas of race equality and social inclusion. It is about the dynamic relationships between and within communities. A cohesive community is defined as one where:-

there is a common vision and a sense of belonging for all communities;

the diversity of people’s different backgrounds and circumstances are appreciated and positively valued;

those from different backgrounds have similar life opportunities; and

strong and positive relationships are being developed between people from different backgrounds in the workplace, in schools and within neighbourhoods.

27. The Government, Local Government Association and Council for Racial Equality are of the view that all local authorities need to consider the issue of community cohesion and respond accordingly. Whilst they consider it will be up to individual local authorities to decide for themselves the most effective mechanism for that response, the first step will be to conduct a baseline assessment of how effectively current policies and programmes promote community cohesion. Commentators say that community cohesion is an inescapable part of local authorities’ Local Strategic Partnerships and they have an important role to ensure that traditionally “hard to reach groups” are included in community consultation exercises.

28. It is likely that the Comprehensive Performance Assessment process will test local authorities on how they are doing on community cohesion regardless of the size of their ethnic minority populations i.e. authorities with low ethnic minority populations will also be expected to implement the guidance. Particular service focus should be on young people, regeneration, leisure & cultural services, education, housing & planning.

29. The issue of Community Cohesion is something to which the Council will need to give more consideration to in the coming years.

How the Council has been addressing disadvantage and promoting social inclusion

30. In 1999, the Council adopted an “Opportunities for All” policy that recognised that whilst Waverley is indeed fortunate in being a relatively affluent area in which to live, there still were people, whom the Council serves, who are have restricted incomes and opportunities. The Council recognised that being poor in an affluent area can indeed be a double disadvantage.

31. Detailed below are activities, initiatives or services provided by the Council, or in partnership with other organisations which help address social exclusion and promote social inclusion. The details are brief and if members need more information they should contact the named officer.


Subject
Lead Officer
Contact Number
Community TransportClive Parkinson01483 - 523037
Domestic Violence OutreachAnnette Marshall01483 - 523205
Day Centres for older peopleAnne Paton01483 - 523046
Exercise and Mobility SchemeGeraldine Dawson01483 - 523350
Bathing SchemeGeraldine Dawson01483 – 523350
Step-up/Step-down SchemeGeraldine Dawson01483 – 523350
Age Concern Waverley Handyman Service and Gardening ServiceGeraldine Dawson01483 – 523350
Sponsored Organisation SchemePaul Wenham01483 – 523238
Disabled Adaptations for tenantsSheila Goodall01483 – 523355
Passport to Leisure Card (Discounts)David Gill01483 – 523391
Team Waverley initiativeDavid Gill01483 – 523391
GP Referral to Leisure Centres SchemeDavid Gill01483 – 523391
Walking for health campaign (2003)David Gill01483 – 523391
Sport/health Promotion Officer (2003) – Bid to the Active Communities FundDavid Gill01483 – 523391
Live and Direct music workshops (2003)Linda Salway01483 – 523405
Stop Gap – mixed ability dance for people with and without disabilitiesLinda Salway01483 – 523405
Reminiscence Theatre (2003)Linda Salway01483 – 523405
Creative Communities (2003)Linda Salway01483 – 523405
On-site Mural Artist – St Marks School, Ockford Ridge, GodalmingLinda Salway01483 – 523405
Affordable HousingKaren Novell01483 – 523096
Affordable Housing in Villages/Rural AreasKaren Novell01483 – 523096
Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency (Private Sector)Susanne Robinson01483 - 523436
Home Improvement Grants (including home security)
Care and RepairGraham Holloway01483 – 523401
Links with GP PracticesSusanne Robinson01483 - 523436
Health Promotion Susanne Robinson01483 - 523436
Housing the HomelessEileen Bailey01483 – 523060
Meeting Housing NeedsJulie Grozier01483 – 523015
Special Needs HousingJohn Swanton01483 – 523375
Access to corporate premises – Disability Discrimination ActJacqueline Turner01483 – 523468
Community SafetyChristine Pointer01483 – 523207
Housing Benefit and Council Tax BenefitDebbie Blackman01483 – 523021
Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency (Council Housing)Andrew Booker01483 – 523076
Sandy Hill Community ProjectKatherine Scholes01483 – 523386
Ockford Ridge InitiativeNeil Deans01483 – 523043
Winterwatch ProjectEileen Bailey01483 – 523060
Furniture HelplineEileen Bailey01483 – 523060
Citizens Advice BureauxJohn Swanton01483 – 523375
Working in partnership with voluntary organisationsJohn Swanton01483 – 523375
Supporting the rural economyIain Lynch01483 – 523203

The above list is not meant to be exhaustive.

Progress in Relation to Equality of Opportunity Action Plan

32. Since the Executive agreed the proposals set out in the report presented to it on 5th February 2002, progress has been made as follows:-

(i) Racial Incident Reporting – a Lotus Notes database has been set up to record racial incidents. Procedures are being developed within the Housing Department to implement the ODPM and Housing Corporation’s good practice standards for tackling racial harassment;

(ii) Awareness-raising training on equal opportunities issues has been held for all staff;

(iii) Physical access to some of the Council’s offices has been improved.

Conclusion

33. When the Committee met in November, it asked for a report on the general issue of social exclusion. It is hoped that this report provides a broad introduction into this area of work and some of the more recent thinking at Regional and Government levels about the social exclusion debate.

Recommendation

As this is a scene setting report requested by the Committee, there are no recommendations.



Background Papers (DoH)

South East Social Inclusion Statement (2002): Jointly published by the Government Office of the South East; SE England Regional Assembly; The Housing Corporation; NHS Health Development Agency; RAISE; SEEDA, and the Social Services Inspectorate.

New Deal for Communities: Guidance from the Department of Health, October 2000

www.doh.gov.uk/healthinequalities/healthandneighbourhood.htm

Waverley Community Profile – Surrey County Council



CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Mr J Swanton Telephone: 01483 - 523375
Email: jswanton@waverley.gov.uk







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