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  • Author or Editor: Ruth Lupton x
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The dynamics of neighbourhood decline and renewal
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Poverty street addresses one of the UK’s major social policy concerns: the gap between the poorest neighbourhoods and the rest of the country. It is an account of neighbourhood decline, a portrait of conditions in the most disadvantaged areas and an up-to-date analysis of the impact of the government’s neighbourhood renewal policies.

The book:

· explores twelve of the most disadvantaged areas in England and Wales, from Newcastle in the north to Thanet in the south, providing the reader with a unique journey around the country’s poverty map;

· combines evidence from neighbourhood statistics, photographs and the accounts of local people with analysis of broader social and economic trends;

· assesses the effect of government policies since 1997 and considers future prospects for reducing inequalities.

CASE Studies on Poverty, Place and Policy series

Series Editor: John Hills, Director of CASE at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Drawing on the findings of the ESRC Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion’s extensive research programme into communities, poverty and family life in Britain, this fascinating series:

Provides a rich and detailed analysis of anti-poverty policy in action.

Focuses on the individual and social factors that promote regeneration, recovery and renewal.

For other titles in this series, please follow the series link from the main catalogue page.

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The journey that led to this book began in April 1999, in Bridgefields, Blackburn, Lancashire. Bridgefields was not seen as a neighbourhood of choice for many people. Its residents faced the stigma attached to their address. This place was a story of decline almost since the birth of the estate in 1974, when it was the last public housing to be built in the town. The concentration of poverty had caused neighbourhood problems. The effect of poverty and the effect of place had become intertwined. The area-based programmes and New Labour’s policies are described. This book particularly presents a view of the areas before the New Labour government’s policies had begun to have an impact, and then again two years later, when changes had begun to be made. An overview of the chapters included in the book is given as well.

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This chapter explores the trajectories of poverty in more detail, highlighting the areas of primary deprivation. The decline had started in the 1960s due to the increase of crime and antisocial behaviour, decline in the sense of community, and the loss of shops and services. Underlying these changes were three consistent themes: economic restructuring, resulting in every case in enormous job losses; widening inequality (driven in large part by economic changes); and changes in the size and composition of the population. It is shown that these changes led in an increase in the rate of poverty. Council-housing areas were developing the most entrenched poverty concentrations. By the beginning of the 1990s, poverty concentrations were acute and inequality was wide.

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This chapter investigates how the 12 areas were selected, to represent poor areas more generally, and how the data was collected. These areas include West-City, East-Docks, Riverlands, The Valley, Middle Row, Overtown, Shipview, Kirkside East, Southside, High Moor, Fairfields, and Beachville. Their respective neighbourhoods are The Grove, Phoenix Rise, Rosehill, East Rise, Broadways, Saints’ Walk, Sunnybank, Southmead, Borough View, Bridgefields, Valley Top, and Sandyton. The characteristics of each area are explained. The combination of statistical data and intensive local fieldwork provided a rich picture of the changing area scenes, looking back in time, taking a snapshot of the present and hinting at prospects for the future. It is also shown that unemployment was three times the national average; levels of Income Support claims twice as high. Health and educational attainment were well below average.

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This chapter explores the policy responses, cataloguing attempts at regeneration, with a particular focus on the initiatives of the 1990s. The Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) was the only current major programme in England by 1999. Nine of the 12 areas had regeneration funding from this source. The examples show both the difficulty of making regeneration an inclusive process and the possibility for change, given sufficient will on the part of local authorities and other partners. Most of the SRB programmes failed to overcome the problem that residents were effectively excluded from real power in the decisions made about their lives. The SRB was an insufficient basis for regeneration. By the late 1990s, it was evident that a longer-term, more strategic approach to area regeneration was needed, within the context of broader policies to tackle the causes of area decline and polarisation.

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This chapter provides a discussion on the solutions for the problems of housing and labour. The major advantage of stock transfer was that it offered an unprecedented opportunity to improve housing conditions. Apart from the improvement of the existing stock, the other major development since the first acquaintance with the areas was the open discussion of the social and economic value of mixed-income and mixed-tenure neighbourhoods and the development of specific plans to break up poverty clusters. In the absence of stock transfer, funding housing improvements at neighbourhood level was difficult. Local authorities were also looking to reduce poverty concentrations by changing the tenure mix of neighbourhoods. The overall picture in 2001 was more optimistic than in 1999, and there were prospects of tackling housing-demand and -supply problems in the longer term.

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This chapter investigates the new policies of the New Labour government, including wider urban, regional, and housing policies. There have been two distinct phases of policy development in England: the introduction of a new range of area-based policies, and the introduction of the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal. The New Labour government’s area programmes, which became commonly known as area-based initiatives (ABIs), included both comprehensive area-regeneration schemes and specific programmes on health, education, employment, and early-years development. The Action Plan for the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal had five key elements. Building on this approach, it included over 100 specific elements, some of them new, some already being done. The New Labour government’s policy agenda for neighbourhood renewal was certainly broader than that of any of its predecessors, and seemed to have learnt some of the lessons of the past.

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This chapter provides a discussion on social interaction and neighbourhood reputation. One of the most striking features of the interviews with residents, who were mainly active within their neighbourhoods, was their allusion to the strength of community ties. Despite the evidence of strong community, it would be a mistake to portray the areas as single communities, socially cohesive and integrated. As communities shrank, residents found it increasingly difficult to exercise informal social control over neighbours’ behaviour and neighbourhood conditions. Community was also made up of myriad social networks and meant different things to different people. Defensiveness caused social networks to shrink and to be less effective in maintaining social norms and standards. Meanwhile, the extent of overlap with networks outside the neighbourhood was limited by poverty, local employment, or worklessness, and by the traditional strength of local social networks.

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This chapter provides a better understanding of the benefits of new money and having better partnerships of agencies. Most of the new activity was funded through special funding programmes, the ‘funny money’ as it was often referred to. This money draws attention to what was not happening, which was an increase in core local authority, police, or health services. Joined-up government took on a new prominence under New Labour and was a major theme in the National Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy. The new programmes all had an emphasis on community involvement, and provided new opportunities and better structures for local people to influence decisions. In every area, partnership working between agencies had improved. Thus, in the way that regeneration was being tackled, it appeared that some of the lessons of the past had been learnt. There were positive signs of change.

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This chapter discusses the failure of public services to manage the 12 small neighbourhoods effectively. It starts by addressing the problems with public services. The most obvious gap in service provision was in frontline services to maintain social order. There was a marked lack of low-level enforcement and deterrence. The interviews with residents in the 12 neighbourhoods indicated that the persistent failure of public management had become almost an expectation. The failure of local democracy to engage people in the governance of their areas and neighbourhoods is also noted. All of the neighbourhoods had some frontline provision. Over the years, the failure of public services to deal effectively with neighbourhood problems had become an expectation among many residents. Cynicism and mistrust created a barrier to engagement with services and to political participation.

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