S. Collard and E. Kempson
Bristol: Policy Press, 2005
Access to credit is severely constrained for people on low and insecure incomes, and they often have to borrow at APRs typically ranging from 100 to 400 per cent. Study examined the scope for widening access to more affordable credit. Concludes that the most appropriate solution for the poorest people lies in increasing the Social Fund budget, either through taxation or by using capital provided by the banks. Not-for-profit lenders also have the potential to meet borrowing needs. Moves towards larger, more professionally run credit unions and regional community-based loan schemes run in partnership with banks seem particularly promising.
The Guardian, Mar. 17th 2005, p.20
A million volunteers will be recruited over the next five years under the UK's first national community service scheme, Gordon Brown has announced. A £150m national framework for youth volunteering is intended to see 16 to 25-year olds offered a range of opportunities within their local communities, elsewhere in Britain or overseas. The service, designed to formalise the existing network of volunteering schemes, will allow participants to choose between short-term, part-time or full-time volunteering. They would offer their time and skills in areas including health, heritage and culture, community safety, conservation and education.
(See also Financial Times, Mar. 17th 2005, p.15)
Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
Report identifies the factors that combine to drive an area into decline. These are: low levels of economic activity and concentrations of worklessness, poor living conditions, and low performing public services. It then sets out a package of measures aimed at tackling all these issues in an integrated fashion, recognising the linkages between them. Measures include tackling barriers to work for individuals such as low skills and lack of access to childcare, and encouraging public and private investment in the area. Measures needed include improvements in the allocation and management of social housing to minimise excessive concentrations of deprivation, improvements to the physical environment through the use of neighbourhood managers and wardens, ensuring that people in deprived areas benefit from wider public service reforms, and supporting local residents in holding service providers to account.
Public Finance, February 25th 2005, p. 28 - 29
Drawing from U.S. idea of "special purpose governments" or "special districts", Downing Street favours the "neighbourhood board", single-purpose agency approach to improving local public services using local stakeholder involvement. This article considers the implications for local administration, the finance and performance of public services, community development and citizen empowerment.
Public Servant, issue 21, Feb.25th 2005, p. 19
Reports from the Sustainable Communities summit in Manchester, focussing on the challenges of regenerating declining and poorly-serviced communities in order to avoid population flight and over-development in the countryside.