The establishment by the incoming government in 1997 of a Social Exclusion Unit (SXU) indicates the extent of concern currently about those groups within society which are systematically ‘excluded’ from the benefits and opportunities to which most members of society have access. The SXU has been particularly keen to stress that social exclusion in this sense is a ‘joined-up problem’ and that, in the Prime Minister’s words, ‘joined-up problems demand joined-up solutions’ (Blair 1997). This constitutes a welcome recognition that deep-rooted social problems tend to have a multiplicity of causes and that single-strand remedies are unlikely to be successful. In particular, this has meant that it has become possible to see issues in apparently disparate areas of social and economic policy as forming part of a complex nest of problems which cannot be dealt with in isolation.