Cabinet Office Social Exclusion Taskforce

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Context for social exclusion work


What do we mean by social exclusion?

Social exclusion is a short–hand term for what can happen when people or areas have a combination of problems, such as unemployment, discrimination, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime and family breakdown. These problems are linked and mutually reinforcing. Social exclusion is an extreme consequence of what happens when people do not get a fair deal throughout their lives and find themselves in difficult situations. This pattern of disadvantage can be transmitted from one generation to the next.

What is the role of the Social Exclusion Task Force?

The Social Exclusion Task Force (SETF) aims to extend the opportunities enjoyed by the vast majority of people in the UK to those whose lives have been characterised by deprivation and exclusion. The SETF does not have a delivery budget but works closely with departments across government to bring about change. In particular, the SETF works to provide joined-up, innovative solutions to supporting those experiencing multiple disadvantages.

To help tackle social exclusion, the Task Force has three roles:

Our long-term vision is to use the lessons from all our work, and the work across government to narrow gaps and address deep seated disadvantage.  By 2009, we expect to see results on the ground in the outcomes of  PSA16, and in the system reforms from the Families at Risk work.  Through our short studies programme, we plan to apply this learning to other aspects of social exclusion and new needs as they emerge.

Current areas of work

The SETF’s key areas of work are: the delivery of PSA 16 (Socially Excluded Adults) and the delivery of a programme of cross-Government Short Studies.

Public Service Agreement 16 (PSA 16)

Following the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review and the announcement of new Public Service Agreements (PSAs) in March 2008, PSA 16 is the first agreement that has focused specifically on the needs of the most vulnerable adults. It focuses on four client groups who are particularly vulnerable to poor life outcomes and multiple forms of disadvantage, and who may be negotiating a difficult transition. The client groups are:

It has two key aims for the four groups: to increase the rates of settled accommodation and of employment, education and training: ‘a home and a job’.

PSA16 is a cross-government commitment. It is led by SETF but is jointly owned by Department of Work and Pensions, Communities and Local Government, Ministry of Justice, Department of Health, Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills, and Department for Children, Schools and Families.  

More information on PSAs and PSA 16 can be found in Socially Excluded Adults PSA section.

Short Studies

The SETF has established a series of Short Study projects that involve intensive analysis and policy development work on cross-cutting, social exclusion related issues. The Minister for the Cabinet Office selects the study topics from proposals made by other government departments. The studies generally support major policy commitments such as PSAs, key strategies or policy action plans. As they are cross-cutting in nature, both the SETF and the departments who made the proposals provide resources.

The first short study project, ‘Aspirations and Attainment in Deprived Communities’, was published in December 2008. Policy recommendations were announced as part of the New Opportunities White Paper [External website], published in January 2009.

The Women Offenders Short Study was published in May 2009. The report brings together existing data and new analysis on women offenders, highlighting the complexity of women offenders’ needs, and draws out opportunities for further improvement in systems and support.

Further information on Short Studies.