Government believes that there have been many successes in tackling deprivation nationally and locally characterised by substantial progress in tackling crime, educational underachievement and health inequalities at a local level. However concentrations of deprivation, in particular worklessness, persist in some neighbourhoods.
Working Neighbourhoods Fund (WNF) is part of the Government’s drive to tackle worklessness and low levels of skills and enterprise with a clear emphasis on areas of high deprivation.
WNF forms a distinct element of the Area Based Grant; a non-ringfenced general grant providing resources to local authorities.
In developing the WNF programme, Be Birmingham had regard to the guidance issued by DWP and CLG which stated that WNF would “…focus on the most deprived areas and which will support local authorities and communities in their efforts to tackle worklessness and the other elements of deprivation”.
The DWP/CLG Guidance states that tackling worklessness needs to be a multi-agency approach in order to create and sustain enterprise to drive demand for labour in and around neighbourhoods with high worklessness and address barriers that prevent people in these areas accessing jobs. Key to delivery are the targets and implementation plans that local areas agree in consultation with partners in the private, voluntary and community sectors. These targets are an integral part of Birmingham’s LAA.
The context for the use of the Fund is the Sustainable Community Strategy which sets out the overarching long-term vision for Birmingham 2026, with the Local Area Agreement (LAA) setting out 19 key local priorities for 2008/11 aimed towards delivering the first steps of the SCS.
Birmingham is highly committed to tackling worklessness and improving quality of life outcomes for all citizens particularly those living in the most deprived areas.
In line with the Government’s expectation, the LAA targets include NI 153, the specific National Indicator for Worklessness relating to working population claiming out of work benefits in the worst performing neighbourhoods (i.e. 187 Super Output Areas (SOA) (census unit of approximately 1500 people) with 25% and above rate). The target is to reduce this rate by three percentage points from 30.8% to 30.3% by March 2011.