A FAIR FUTURE FOR OUR CHILDREN. The Strategy of the Welsh Assembly Government for Tackling Child Poverty

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1 A FAIR FUTURE FOR OUR CHILDREN The Strategy of the Welsh Assembly Government for Tackling Child Poverty

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3 Foreword The Welsh Assembly Government believes that tackling poverty and inequality among children and young people is a fundamental component of its broader strategy to improve quality of life and promote social inclusion and equal opportunities in every community in Wales. No-one, especially children and young people, should be disadvantaged or prevented from achieving their full potential because of where they live or their family circumstances. The UK Government has set targets that child poverty will be halved by 2010 when compared with 1997, and eradicated by The Welsh Assembly Government wishes to play its full part in meeting that target. This Strategy sets out our contribution. This Strategy has been developed through collaboration between agencies and organisations working for the interests of children and young people in Wales and the UK; through consultation (including consultation with children and young people); and with contributions from experts in the field and an extensive review of research literature. The approach adopted by the Strategy reflects the findings of, and consultation on, the report of the independent Task Group on Child Poverty, chaired by Dr Charlotte Williams of Bangor University and advised by Professors Peter Townsend and Jonathan Bradshaw. I should like to pay tribute to the thoroughness and commitment with which the Group approached its task. The Strategy takes forward the Welsh Assembly Government s commitment to tackle poverty and inequality among children and young people. It sets out a long-term direction for the Assembly Government and our partners for combating child poverty. It will make a major contribution towards meeting the UK Government s challenge to eradicate child poverty in a generation and also to Health Challenge Wales as our new national focus for improving health in Wales. It will also link with the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services in Wales, which aims to improve the quality and reduce variations in service delivery throughout Wales through the setting of national standards. Income is a key factor in child poverty, and the Assembly Government has made representations to the UK Government on the non-devolved issues of Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit. The opportunities and quality of life of children and young people are also shaped by their education, their access to quality health services, by decent housing, by the security and environment of where they live and by their opportunity to participate in decisions about their lives. The Welsh Assembly Government has devolved responsibility for these key policy areas. We are determined that our policies and programmes across the board will take account of the needs of children in poverty. 1

4 In this document we set out the principles which we believe should inform our work on child poverty, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child. We identify a range of indicators by which our performance in tackling it can be monitored. Most importantly, we establish the key issues to be addressed in tackling child poverty in Wales and the ways in which we will meet this challenge. The consultations carried out by the Task Group with children and young people illustrated how poverty makes an impact across many aspects of children s lives. This strategy is correspondingly wide ranging. But among all the action to deal with child poverty, there is strong evidence that the earliest interventions are the most effective. This strategy therefore describes a major new initiative being taken for the early years of disadvantaged children, which will receive 50 million in and This will complement other initiatives for children, some universal such as the new Foundation Phase and others more targeted, such as Sure Start programmes. The Assembly Government Cabinet will monitor implementation of the Strategy through publication of an annual progress report. I know that Peter Clarke, as Children s Commissioner, will also take a keen interest in our work. But the Assembly Government cannot achieve its ambition alone. It will take forward our concerted efforts in partnership with local government as well as our partnership with the UK Government and a wide range of agencies to make this Strategy a success. We have the ideal mechanism for such joint work in the strengthened arrangements for local co-operation set out in the Children Act I call on all those involved with planning and providing services for children and young people to place the issues raised in this Strategy at the centre of their work. Rhodri Morgan First Minister Welsh Assembly Government 2

5 Executive Summary Guiding Principles In approaching this major task we were guided by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and by the findings of our Task Group on Child Poverty, who listened to the views and concerns of children and young people. We believe that eradicating child poverty ultimately benefits the whole community, leading, for example, to healthier, higher skilled adults and lower crime rates. We will tackle poverty through mainstream services, backing this up with specific targeted support where needed. In addition we aim to remove the myths and the stigma attached to poverty. Overall this plan aims to: fulfil children and young people s hopes and ambitions raise their standard of living and quality of life ease their worries about lack of money help them to share in making decisions and providing services combat discrimination that stops children achieving their potential Improve health and well-being and reduce inequality Help children to become independent citizens who can make choices 1. Income Poverty Low income denies children opportunities, and both children and adults agree that better job opportunities are the main route out of the poverty. The Assembly Government s plan A Winning Wales, sees 175,000 extra jobs being created by the year 2010 and our Wales Spatial Plan aims to steer these jobs to parts of the country where they are most needed. Access to Employment The new Skills and Employment Action Plan and other strategies will improve access to employment by focusing on: raising skill levels by boosting the quality of learning provision, getting more people into lifelong learning more educational choice for year olds re-engaging with year olds not in learning or employment tackling basic skills problems better and more affordable childcare community-focused schools a more flexible New Deal welfare to work - programme better public transport to help people get to where jobs are available work with employers to improve work/life balance and ensure equality 3

6 Financial inclusion and adequate income levels Through a range of measures, we aim to give families and young people access to adequate income and help in managing their finances. This includes: More effective PSE classes in school Piloting a new framework for Adult Financial Capability Tackling financial skills deficits via the National Basic Skills Strategy National Information and Advice Project for year olds, covering debt and related issues Continued support for the growth of the Credit Union network, An increase in the minimum wage from October 2004 A UK study on possibility of low interest loans for low income families Tax and Benefits Planned tax and benefit measures include: New Disability Living Allowance for carers of disabled children Reforms to link Housing Benefit with Working Tax Credit Local authority drive to encourage full benefit take-up GP scheme to refer patients to Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) on benefit issues. CAB bases in new and accessible community-focused schools New study of barriers to ethnic minorities gaining benefit advice. We have also made representation to the UK Government on the issue of Child Benefit levels. Grants for Further and Higher Education New measures improving young people s access to post-16 education are: Annual Assembly Learning Grants to help young people in low income households into further or higher education. Fortnightly Education Maintenance Allowance to encourage young people from lower income homes to remain in learning after Participation Poverty Children from poor families often feel left out of activities others enjoy. This can be even more acute for disabled and ethnic minority children. We are working to ensure that all children can participate fully in play, leisure, sporting and cultural activities as well as the full range of learning opportunities. Our plans are set out in the paper: Children and Young People; Rights to Action. 4

7 Leisure and Social Activity Initiatives to get all youngsters involved in leisure and social activity include: Local council discount cards for sports and leisure pursuits, Free swimming during school holidays. Community Facilities and Activities Programme grants to create or upgrade multiple-use community facilities Programmes to spread good practice for community action against anti-social behaviour by young people. 3.5m new investment in Safe Routes for cycling or walking to school Anti-Discrimination and Bullying We want to ensure children are not stigmatized at school because of their background or circumstances. Measures being considered include: Cashless school cafeteria to avoid embarrassment for pupils receiving free school meals Low interest loans or grants for school uniforms. Teachers equality training extended to classroom assistants New guidance for school governing bodies on policies regarding equality and keeping disadvantaged pupils from dropping out. Regional anti-bullying conferences Mentoring and friendship schemes for vulnerable pupils Head teacher training on Assembly Government anti-bullying guidance. Guidance for educationalists to maximise participation by groups such as ethnic or disabled people, travellers and young parents. Listening to Young Voices There are a wide range of forums through which children and young people in Wales can make their views known, locally, regionally and nationally. We are: Ensuring disadvantaged young people take part in these forums Preparing guidance so all groups can participate in school councils Taking the views of young carers into account through the Young Carers Advisory Panel and Carers Focus Group. Expanding young people s rights to an advocate to complain about public services and further improving the advocacy service 3. Service Poverty Public services play a key role in breaking cycles of poverty. The Assembly Government s draft National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services aims to ensure all sections of society have equal access to these services. Measures include: 5

8 Extra 50million from , for better provision for children in their early years, particularly in the most deprived areas. Cymorth Fund expanding childcare Children s Information Service to point parents towards local provision. New guidance to help schools get involved in providing these facilities. At least one Integrated Centre in each local authority area, providing a combination of childcare, play, early years education, community education and family support services. Appointment of a lead director for Children and Young People and a Children and Young People s Framework Partnership in all 22 areas. Support for accessible leisure, social and play activity in isolated areas, such as mobile youth clubs, toy libraries and day trips for youngsters. Parenting Action Plan to develop parenting skills Better access to health surveillance to spot delays in child development Ten-year All-Wales Strategy for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to ensure all professionals involved work closely together. Confidential advice for young people on emotional well-being Close monitoring of existing mental health service effectiveness New guidance for schools on promoting good mental health. Grant for confidential domestic abuse Helpline All-Wales Domestic Abuse Strategy for co-ordinated victim support Education to prevent domestic abuse. School Curriculum The Assembly Government wants an inclusive curriculum that motivates all children and young people and prepares them for life and work as well as continuing education and training. At present we are working on: Guidance to help education professionals identify and deal with child poverty issues in non-stigmatising ways. Learning Pathways providing wider curriculum choice for year olds, helping those from deprived backgrounds in particular Learning coaches to help reduce truancy, exclusions and drop-out Pilot projects to tackle truancy and bad behaviour including electronic registration and enhanced role for the Education Welfare Service. More freedom for Governors to provide community services from school premises and grants to encourage this Other important services to be improved and made more accessible include: Sure Start a comprehensive service delivering confidence and skillsbuilding support from mothers pregnancy through pre-school years including peer support on issues such as breastfeeding or childhood illnesses. The Cymorth fund, which includes Sure Start, is being increased by over 29 million, in addition to the 50 million for early years, between 2005 and

9 Security - 5million Assembly Government investment in hard-wired detection equipment in more than 60,000 social housing properties. Food and Fitness expanding the successful Free School Breakfast initiative to all interested primary schools by January 2007 Schools and Health expanding network of Health Promoting Schools to all parts of Wales Housing reduction and elimination of bed & breakfast and other temporary accommodation, new guidelines to social landlords on legal obligations and mediation for young people to prevent homelessness. Rural services - new Rural Development Plan , to spread prosperity, strengthen communities and improve public transport 4. Measuring and Monitoring Child Poverty To measure child poverty, we currently track the number of children living in households with less than 60% of the UK average income or those which lack certain household goods and services. However new measurements will combine income, unemployment data, benefit claims and other deprivation indicators. This will give us a clearer picture and a better basis for measuring our progress in the battle against poverty. Beating child poverty involves many different Assembly Government departments so an integrated effort is needed. Evaluation of progress will therefore be reported in detail to the full Cabinet each year and be available for public scrutiny. 7

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11 1. Guiding Principles 1.1 Wales is a country that includes areas experiencing pronounced deprivation. Figures for indicate that Wales has a higher proportion of children living in low-income households than most other areas of Great Britain. 30% of children lived in households with incomes below 60% of median income compared with 28% in Great Britain. In Spring 2004, 19.4% of children in Wales lived in workless households compared to 16.4% in the UK as a whole. The Welsh Assembly Government s policies and programmes are already aimed at addressing the underlying problems faced by both individuals and communities moving out of poverty. However, child poverty is a complex issue and its eradication demands special attention. Action taken now to tackle child poverty and related poverty in later generations will benefit society, and prove to be cost-effective in the long-term. The Strategy sets out how the Assembly Government can play its part in meeting the UK Government s Child Poverty targets: to halve Child Poverty by 2010 when compared with 1997, and eradicate it by The Strategy is built on a set of core values in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and in common with the Welsh Assembly Government Aims for Children and Young People: Children and young people in Wales should not be disadvantaged or prevented from achieving their full potential because of where they live or their family circumstances (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Articles, 3, 6, 18, 24, 26, 27,28,29,31 and 36); Children and young people in Wales should be able to exercise their right to participate fully in society and in all matters affecting them (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Articles, 12 and 13); All children and young people in Wales should enjoy equality of opportunity and access to appropriate services in an environment which respects diversity (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Articles, 2, 23, 24, 26, 27,28,29,30 and 31). Children and young people have fundamental rights to social security and adequate standard of living (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Articles 26 and 27). 1.3 The Strategy takes forward the main conclusions of the Child Poverty Task Group report and the key messages from children and young that informed that report. In so doing it adopts the guiding principles suggested in the report: 9

12 The Strategy, in common with the UK Government s strategy, while encompassing income poverty, is also widely focussed to include key aspects of poverty and social inclusion that undermine children and young people s capacity to participate fully in society and achieve their full potential; The Strategy is underpinned by a commitment to a rights based approach, consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and in common with other strategies; The Strategy is focused on action to achieve a significant and sustainable reduction in current levels of child poverty and includes action to support and enable children and young people who are in poverty to live fulfilling lives and to reach their full potential as adults. 1.4 Child poverty requires an inclusive and holistic approach, which cuts across Welsh Assembly Government portfolios and across the work of its partners. Our economic development policies and Spatial Plan support the creation of jobs and a skilled workforce that can offer sustainable increased incomes to families. Our investments in the youngest children will offer them improved life chances and help create a high skills workforce in the future and that investment continues throughout the education system. Our regeneration programme, Communities First, tackles poverty in the areas where multiple deprivation manifests itself. The Strategy links with and reflects other relevant strategies such as the Assembly Government s Annual Social Justice Report and the UK National Action Plan on Social Inclusion. It complements the range of Assembly initiatives that support children and young people, from free school breakfasts to Climbing Higher, our consultation on sport and active recreation. 1.5 We support the Task Group s view that child poverty and social exclusion in Wales need to be tackled in the mainstream. The UK Government s Child Poverty Review identifies the significance of mainstream services in contributing to the improvement of poor children s life chances and thus breaking cycles of deprivation. 1.6 Action to ensure that all children and young people in Wales are able to reach their full potential is set out in Children and Young People: Rights to Action. This includes those who are disadvantaged by poverty or in other ways. Rights to Action sets out how we take forward our seven core aims for children and young people in Wales, ensuring that they: have a flying start in life; have a comprehensive range of education and learning opportunities; 10

13 enjoy the best possible health and are free form abuse, victimisation and exploitation; have access to play, leisure, sporting and cultural activities; are listened to, treated with respect, and have their race and cultural identity recognised; have a safe home and a community which supports physical and emotional wellbeing; are not disadvantaged by poverty 1.7 As the Task Group suggests, the role of mainstream universal services is crucial in taking this agenda forward. However the Welsh Assembly Government believes that this must go hand in hand with a targeted approach which directs resources at the most deprived areas. Although it is true that only 26% of poor children live in Communities First areas, these areas account for only 12% of all electoral wards in Wales and so the incidence of child poverty in Communities First (and other deprived) areas is likely to be concentrated and higher. 1.8 Within a framework of universal services the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups will need positive action to promote equality. Cymorth the Children and Youth Support Fund aims to provide a network of targeted support for children and young people within a framework of universal provision, in order to improve their life chances. 1.9 As the Task Group report suggests, preventative programmes (such as Sure Start programmes), which support early intervention and support parents, have a crucial role to play in tackling child poverty. Currently these services are delivered on a targeted basis through Cymorth to reflect identified local need. There is a body of evidence, still emerging but robust in its key findings, that children s early experiences are crucial for their subsequent skills development and therefore for their eventual employment prospects. Getting a child s early years development right makes subsequent investment in education and training much more effective. We are putting substantial new funds into this area, complementing our initiatives for the early years which will be universal for example the Foundation Phase, free School Breakfasts and free access to swimming. We are developing a Play Strategy, building on our public commitment and action on this issue. Ensuring access to the opportunity to play deals with some of the direct effect of poverty on children We also recognise that some groups within society can face specific aspects of social exclusion because of discrimination and historical disadvantage. This includes minority groups and disabled children and young people. Simply providing the same service to all does not mean that everyone can have equal access to those services. We are taking 11

14 forward the equality agenda as a cross cutting theme, informing work across every area of government. We are also funding targeted services through Cymorth and other initiatives, to promote equality of access for groups of children, young people and their families who may face additional disadvantage because of ethnicity or disability. The promotion of equality will continue to inform the development of policy and provision The Task Group report highlights the way in which stigma and lack of understanding impacts on the lives of children and young people in poverty. The Welsh Assembly Government will consult with appropriate organisations and agencies to develop material for a public education campaign to dispel myths about poverty. We will also develop and issue guidance for distribution to all agencies and professionals working with children and young people, to raise awareness of the issues and to promote the delivery of targeted support in nonstigmatising ways The Welsh Assembly Government has already made representations to the UK Government in relation to a number of non-devolved issues which impact on child poverty, such as Single Room Rent. We have referred the other recommendations relating to the UK Government to the Secretary of State for Wales for a response The Welsh Assembly Government recognises that sharing good evidence-based practice is crucial to the development of quality services and will continue to invest in events and processes to disseminate good practice. The sharing and dissemination of evidence-based practice is an important part of our work to promote effective partnership working across Wales. Key Messages from Children and Young People in Wales The Task Group considered the findings of a series of consultations with children and young people living in Wales. They identified a wide range of areas through which poverty impacted on their experiences and the conditions of their lives. The issues they identified informed the Task Group report, and the Strategy reflects these areas of concern. In particular children and young people prioritised two areas for action: Education and schools Employment and training. The latter was particularly important for older young people In line with the broad aims of the Welsh Assembly Government (as reflected in Children and Young People: Rights to Action), and with the three cross-cutting themes of social inclusion, equal opportunities and 12

15 sustainable development set out in A Plan for Wales 2001, this Strategy aims to: Reflect the aspirations and expectations of children and young people living in Wales; Raise standards of living and quality of life; Reduce income insecurity experienced by children, young people and their parents living in Wales; Maximise potential and participation in decision making and service provision; Tackle discrimination which limits children and young people s opportunities and chances of reaching their full potential; Improve health and wellbeing and reduce inequality; and Build children and young people s capacity to become independent, make choices and participate in the democratic process. Tackling Child Poverty in Wales 1.16 The Task Group report identified three principal dimensions of child poverty: Income Poverty Participation Poverty Service Poverty 1.17 These dimensions provide a useful means for examining the complex and interrelated issues connected with child poverty. This Strategy describes the main programmes and activities that will support our drive to tackle child poverty with reference to these three dimensions. It does not include everything that the Assembly Government is already doing or will do in the future in tackling child poverty. Rather it concentrates on key areas in response to the over-arching issues identified in the Task Group report where action has commenced or will be focused. 13

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17 2. Income Poverty 2.1 Children and young people growing up in low-income households do not enjoy the same opportunities as their peers, and are more likely to experience poor outcomes which will impact on their ability to move out of poverty as adults. Although areas such as the tax and benefit system are non-devolved, there are many ways through which the Welsh Assembly Government can and does seek to improve the economic position of families. The UK Government has identified work as the best route out of poverty, and in the second Assembly term we will continue to focus on four key areas: helping more people into jobs; improving health; developing strong and safe communities; and creating better skills and jobs. The UK Government has now published its Child Poverty Review, which sets out action to be taken in nondevolved areas for tackling child poverty across the UK. 2.2 The Task Group report makes it clear that children and young people identify the importance of creating decent jobs and employment opportunities in Wales as a means of tackling child poverty. The Assembly Government has been working vigorously with its partners to meet the challenges set when A Winning Wales was published in Success would mean Welsh GDP per person rising to 90% of the UK average over the next decade, with the ultimate aim of achieving parity. To achieve this we need to modernise the industrial structure of the Welsh economy, to ensure that Wales has a higher share of employment in high growth, high skill and high-value-adding industries and occupations. We also need to ensure that more of our people have jobs and opportunities to benefit from new industries. This will mean action to break down some of the barriers to employment by improving childcare, improving access to skills, and supporting the development of transport infrastructures. 2.3 We recognise that some groups currently enjoy limited employment opportunities and face additional barriers to employment. There are a number of ways in which we are seeking to address this issue and to ensure that growth in the Welsh economy benefits people across Wales, including those who may currently be disadvantaged. Access to Employment 2.4 One of the successful outcomes which A Winning Wales set for 2010 is a 175,000 increase in the number of people in employment (including self-employment), with particular emphasis on communities and groups with low participation rates. 2.5 The Wales Spatial Plan offers the best opportunity for the Assembly Government to consider the scope for influencing the availability of jobs geographically. 15

18 2.6 The Assembly Government will work with its partners, including Jobcentre Plus, to remove barriers to participation in the economy. We have established a Steering Group to consider the best ways forward in tackling economic inactivity in Wales, which has identified the potential benefits of developing pilot approaches to test a return-to-work package in partnership with Jobcentre Plus in Wales. This model will need to be tested with the active involvement of DfTE. In addition to a range of measures to help people overcome the barriers created by low skill levels and work-limiting health problems, participants will, on moving into work, receive financial support to help their transition from benefits to paid employment. 2.7 The objective of making sure that people are not disadvantaged in the labour market because of where they live means making the most of programmes like the European Structural Funds. We need to ensure that currently under-performing parts of Wales are made more attractive to business. A balanced spatial approach also means that we take advantage of the opportunities offered in the faster-growing areas of Wales to help increase and spread prosperity. 2.8 The importance of ensuring that young people are not disadvantaged because of where they live is particularly pertinent to Welsh speakers living in traditionally (and predominantly rural) Welsh speaking areas. These issues are addressed in Iaith Pawb, the Assembly Government s National Action Plan for a bilingual Wales. In general, the Assembly Government s approach is based on the belief that the solution for disadvantaged Welsh-speaking communities rests with our national strategies for promoting economically and socially sustainable communities (particularly A Winning Wales and Communities First). As well as requiring Welsh language issues to be mainstreamed in these development programmes, Iaith Pawb acknowledges that for some areas of Wales it might be appropriate to devise and implement additional economic and social development programmes which are strongly targeted at Welsh speakers. 2.9 The most promising approach to tackling the economic inactivity problem in the long term is a coherent programme of pre-school early intervention to help children on to the right track from an early age as the. This issue is discussed in more detail in Chapter 4: Service Poverty We will implement and update our Skills and Employment Action Plan, which provides a structure to our policies and programmes on skills development, lifelong learning and employment. This will include improving mechanisms of workforce development and providing support so that entrants and re-entrants to the labour market have the skills employers need. 16

19 2.11 As part of the Skills and Employment Action Plan we will work with our partners to bring a new era to post-16 learning in Wales and a more coherent and flexible range of provision to suit all learners. Key priorities include sustaining a high quality network of learning providers which meets the needs of employers and learners, developing new approaches to bring people into learning, and working with partners to develop clear and flexible progression routes We will introduce a choice of learning pathways and learner support for year olds to ensure that all young people, including those living in low-income households, have the skills, experiences and opportunities to realise their potential, obtain good quality jobs and contribute to their communities. This will be a crucial element of work to re-engage the 10% of year olds in Wales who are not in any form of employment, education or training (referred to as NEETs) A number of other services have been or are currently available to 16 to 18 year old NEETs including the targeted outreach programme Youth Access Initiative (now part of Cymorth funded activity). Wales Youth Gateway, a short intensive course aimed to get young people to learn new skills, and initially targeted at 16 and 17 year olds, now also extends to year olds at risk of becoming NEETs The Keeping in Touch protocols being developed and implemented by Young People s Partnerships by March 2005 will identify young people not in employment, education or training, and assist them in securing a Learning Pathway to meet their needs. We will include monitoring of NEETs as a specific aspect of evaluation within Extending Entitlement (the implementation of Learning Pathways ) We will implement and review the Basic Skills Strategy for Wales, which includes a wide range of measures designed to tackle the problems of poor literacy and numeracy amongst children, young people and adults We are aware that some projects operating within local Children and Young People s Framework Partnerships are providing increased opportunities for lone parents to engage in training, and to access information about New Deal for Lone Parents and learning opportunities. Initiatives such as Integrated Centres are able to provide short-term childcare to support parents in accessing on-site support. This might include access to a New Deal advisor, further education taster courses and training. We welcome the development of such provision, and will review current provision and consider ways in which such practice can be expanded The development of community focused schools may also be of particular benefit to lone parents. These schools have the potential to provide facilities where lifelong learning, childcare and work with partners such as Action Teams for Jobs can be provided in the 17

20 community. This approach is currently the subject of a pilot being developed jointly with the Department for Work and Pensions in Torfaen We want businesses to employ a wider range of people, providing equality of opportunity for all, particularly those from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups and for disabled people. Further research and development is needed into whether current provision by Jobcentre Plus is sufficient to ensure that the particular needs of refugees and members of black and minority ethnic communities are treated sensitively and appropriately We welcome the UK Government s proposals for the evolution of the New Deal, Building on New Deal (BoND), founded on movement towards greater local flexibility and less central prescription. This extension of greater freedom and flexibility to front-line staff is intended to enable all groups, including people from ethnic minorities, to receive support more closely tailored to their individual needs. The UK Government intends to pilot this new approach through Pathfinder areas from late 2005, and the Assembly Government is working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions in the on-going development of BoND We will ensure that business support and advice provided by publiclyfunded services includes information on the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) Regulations Transport can act as a barrier to employment for people from some groups or areas, and we are committed to developing a sustainable and integrated transport network which includes improved public and community transport in all areas and improved accessibility for those who do not have a car. We will continue to financially support our scheme guaranteeing free travel to disabled and elderly people. This has allowed operators to safeguard and extend a number of existing services and also to bring forward their investment in more accessible vehicles. We will identify the practical difficulties that will need to be overcome to extend the free scheme to community transport When young people are consulted about issues that matter to them, transport is always high on the list. We are developing a scheme to guarantee half-fare travel by year olds on bus services, helping to promote learning, training and employment. Local authorities have powers to subsidise local bus services that are not being provided commercially by bus operators, but which in their opinion would meet a social need. Research has identified that local bus services are disproportionately important with lower incomes. It is certain that children will make up a significant number of those who use subsidised local bus services. 18

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